Boxing’s preeminent throwback fighter just added another 5,000 miles to his weathered travel log and now hopes to add an elusive world title to his resume.
Philadelphia’s "Hammerin’" Hank Lundy (29-6-1, 14 KOs) returns to the ring Friday night in Russia to face undefeated WBC Silver Lightweight World Champion Zaur Abdullaev(9-0, 6 KOs) in a 12-round bout as part of a stacked fight card at the Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, less than 1,000 miles east of Moscow.
The event is promoted by RCC Boxing Promotions, owned and operated for two decades by German Titov. Originally named Titov Boxing Promotions, the promotion merged with the Russian Copper Company, a state-of-the-art copper mining company in Yekaterinburg, in 2016 to form RCC Boxing, which helped launch the careers of Russian stars Ruslan Provodnikov, Dmitry Pirog, and former cruiserweight world champion Grigory Drozd.
RCC also co-promoted an event in Yekaterinburg with Main Events in 2016 featuring two-time light heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev
, and is now working in conjunction with CES Boxing, which launched Lundy’s career in 2006 and has helped guide the 34-year-old Philadelphia lightweight
to two regional titles in addition to a shot at the WBO world super lightweight title in 2016.
"In an era where fighters dodge fights because they don’t want to travel outside of their hometown or they worry about judges, officials and things they cannot control, Hank Lundy is what this sport needs," CES Boxing president Jimmy Burchfield Sr. said.
"There is no one more deserving of this opportunity. The one thing about ’Hammerin’’ Hank is he never quits. He doesn’t listen to the critics. He stays in the gym and remains focused on winning a world title and he won’t rest until he’s the No. 1 fighter in the lightweight division, and we sure as hell won’t rest until we help him accomplish that goal. We’re fully confident we’re leaving Russia with the title and we’re excited about what lies ahead."
This is Lundy’s second trip to Europe, preceded by his 2013 showdown with former 140-pound world-title holder Viktor Postol in the Ukraine. The well-traveled Lundy has fought everywhere from Memphis to Montreal, including fights in Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, Cleveland and Los Angeles, earning the reputation as boxing’s most feared road warrior.
Chelyabinsk, Russia is merely another postcard to add to the collection as Lundy aims to bring a world championship back to Philadelphia, a city rich in boxing tradition with the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Joe Frazier and Sonny Liston, all of whom won multiple world titles during Hall of Fame careers.
The landscape in Philadelphia has changed in recent years with Hopkins’ retirement, ushering in a new cast of rising stars hoping to claim the throne as the city’s best. As one of the area’s elder statesmen, Lundy has the opportunity to add even more clout as a world title-holder with a win over Abdullaev on Friday, which would no doubt be the biggest of his career.
"This fight for me is very big, and when I win it, it’ll put me back on top in the race for the big, green belt," Lundy said. "The WBC Silver belt will change me and my family’s lives and I’m more than ready. I will not let this slip through my hands."
The "big, green belt" Lundy is referring to is, of course, the WBC World Lightweight Championship, currently held by undefeated Mikey Garcia. The Silver belt was established by the WBC in 2010 to replace its interim title, and the WBC typically matches its interim champions with its world-title holders, meaning a victory for Lundy on Friday could set the stage for a future showdown with Garcia, a fight Lundy has coveted for quite some time.
"Mike, I’m coming for you," Lundy said.
But first, Lundy must solve the 24-year-old Abdullaev, recognized as one of the top Russian prospects who competed in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing before making his official professional boxing debut in 2017. In just his eighth pro fight, he captured the WBC Youth Lightweight Title with a knockout win over Ardie Boyose and then added the Silver lightweight title to his collection two months later with a win over Deiner Berrio.
Born in Dydymkin, which is south of Chelyabinsk, Abdullaev comes from a long line of European fighters who’ve made quick climbs to the top of their weight class. Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko fought for a world title in just his second pro fight and won it in his third, albeit with 397 amateur fights under his belt. Abdullaev amassed an amateur record of 16-8, beginning at the age of 16, before his first World Series of Boxing match in 2016 and then turned pro a year later, making his rapid ascension in the lightweight division equally remarkable.
None of this fazes Lundy, who boasts a resume unlike most in pro boxing and has certainly been forced outside of his comfort zone more so than Abdullaev has in his short career. Lundy’s legendary track record, both at lightweight and super lightweight, includes bouts against pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford, Thomas Dulorme, Mauricio Herrera and Raymundo Beltran, who recently fought for the WBO World Lightweight Title.
Lundy also ended the career of former world champion David Diaz in Illinois and knocked off former WBA title-holder Richar Abril in 2010. He enters Friday’s fight fresh off a three-fight win streak, including a dominant performance over former WBO world champion DeMarcus Corley in his hometown in February.