THERE is an endearing contradiction between Sebastian Fundora the man, and Sebastian Fundora the fighter. This feeling becomes more evident the longer one spends engaging with the mature, well-mannered 22-year-old. His appearance isn’t that of your typical combatant. His 6ft 6ins tall, skinny figure makes 154lbs with baffling ease and his beaming smile and almost geeky appearance make it easy to forget what he does for a living.
Then he opens his mouth.
“I love to fight and I love to break faces,” Sebastian Fundora, 15-0-1 (10), tells Boxing News. The up-and-coming contender is speaking from the confines of his Coachella home in California, USA, ahead of his December 5 co-feature bout with Habib Ahmed on the Errol Spence Jnr-Danny Garcia card. This will be the third outing for Fundora in 2020 and the second on a pay-per-view platform.
“Every fight I get is an opportunity to showcase what I can do at the weight,” he continues, “we are serious about taking over this division.”
Fundora’s stock is growing rapidly at super-welterweight. An August stoppage victory [rsf 6] over the seasoned Nate Gallimore punctuated his potential, stopping a fighter who had previously taken Julian Williams, Patrick Teixeira and Erickson Lubin the distance. “This was a real breakout fight for me,” he explained. “We did what we needed to do against a guy that was regarded as an elite fighter. We’ve put the rest of the 154-pounders on notice. We ain’t just a fluke.”
Fundora lives a quiet life in the heart of the Coachella desert. It’s how he likes it. He’s assembled a ring in his back yard and chops away at hanging heavy bags to sharpen his tools under the heat of the Californian sun. Pressure as a youngster to follow a path in basketball or athletics is all but a distant memory. His mother, a former fighter herself, does his paperwork and meal preparation while his father, Freddy, plays the role of coach and manager. It’s a very much a family affair; a family that understands what is required to succeed in the sport.
“Home life is pretty peaceful, we’re not in a big city or anything,” he continued. “I don’t take long breaks from camp, so there’s not much I do when I’m not boxing. Probably the only things I do is eat and get some good rest without having to get up at 5am to run.”
He chuckles as I mention his unique selling point. The 22-year-old southpaw, measuring close to two metres in height, dwarfs all of his competition in his weight class with his promoter Sampson Lewkowicz introducing the moniker “Towering Inferno” a few years ago. “My physique and height definitely help sell me,” he adds candidly. “But then again I feel my fights are enough [to help sell me] as well. I don’t feel like I have to do anything crazy with my personality – you won’t see me calling guys out on Twitter or anything. My actions inside the ring do my talking for me.”
And he’s right to suggest that. Fundora’s preferred style spits on the page of any boxing textbook, displaying a distinct appetite for inside fighting. “I think at first most opponents were surprised that’s for sure,” he added. “I’m so used to fighting smaller guys that I’ve been able to work on that side of my game for a while. If I feel like a guy has no power I’ll want to get on the inside and walk straight through him. As we get deeper into the division, I’m sure they’ll [my coaches] start to think of plans for more of an outside game. That’s fine as I am comfortably in utilising my reach, but right now I just love to bang.”
Often compared to Game of Thrones, the super-welterweights have been jostling for position over the past few years unable to settle on a rightful ruler. Jermell Charlo staked his claim in an eighth-round TKO of Rosario in September to collect three of the four recognised trinkets, with Brazil’s Patrick Teixeira holding the WBO’s version.
“I never pick the opponents I fight, but I always want to be fighting the best,” he explained. “It’s up to my promoter, Sampson, but we’ll be ready for everyone and anyone. Who wouldn’t want to see someone come and take over the division and be the true king of 154? There’s no reason why that can’t be me.”
Fundora has a wise head on young shoulders; a born fighter in a body perhaps more suited to slam dunks than hooks and slips. “I used to get nervous doing interviews, but I am getting a lot better and confident now,” he concludes, explaining how he has managed to adapt to the growing spotlight that has been put on his career. He is walking proof that you should never judge a book by its cover – especially a book with so many more chapters yet to be written.