Tonight at 10 p.m. EDT on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com, Hank Lundy will face Raymundo Beltran in a 10-round lightweight bout that has a lot more on the line than we knew just a few days ago, as Lundy is now reported to be the leading candidate to face Adrien Broner on October 6 in Atlantic City.
That fight would be huge for Lundy, a 28-year-old Philadelphia fighter whose climb up the ladder has been widely seen on the Friday Night Fights program. Over time, we've seen him, as Teddy Atlas says, morph from a really reckless sort into a better, more complete professional fighter, and in his last fight against Dannie Williams on March 30, he put on his best performance to date, dominating another good young fighter and flat-out taking Williams to school over 10 rounds.
It seems like a long time ago that Lundy (22-1-1, 11 KO) was caught and stopped by John Molina on FNF, his lone career defeat. At that time, his chin was questioned, and so was his style. Since then, he's made steady improvements, and become a contender in the lightweight division.
But if he's going to get to Adrien Broner, he'll have to go through a tough veteran tonight in Raymundo Beltran. Beltran (25-6, 17 KO) hasn't scored many notable wins over his 13-year pro career, but he's a tough out and nobody to play around with. His most recent two losses came to unbeaten prospects Sharif Bogere and Luis Ramos Jr, and in both fights, he had an argument for the win. I actually scored both fights for Beltran, but I didn't think he was robbed in either bout -- he just came up short on the cards.
The 31-year-old Beltran isn't afraid to make a fight rough, and given Lundy's prickly demeanor, that could mean a nasty fight tonight. Both the Bogere and Ramos fights featured plenty of blood, particularly the Bogere battle, and Beltran isn't shy about using his head. Lundy will have a speed advantage, but Bogere had a big one, too. It will be up to Lundy's power and ability to stay at distance, where Beltran can be neutralized. If Raymundo gets inside, all hell can break loose. Not only is he willing to get his hands and head dirty, but he's also just a pretty good fighter.
It's also worth noting that Lundy took four attempts to make weight yesterday, originally coming in at 136.2 pounds on his first try. Eventually, the NABF stepped in with their rule book and frankly gave Lundy a bit of a break, with the fighter finally weighing 134.8. If that took a toll on him, this could be a really dangerous fight.
Lundy, though, says he's ready for the call from Broner:
"If they call me, we're ready to fight. ... It's like this, he's trying to take a shortcut up and go straight to the top. You work your way up, like the oldtimers. When you fight the best, you can call yourself the best. I've fought bettter competition than he has. Let this be a lesson to you Broner, sometimes you come in [overweight] but you have to bite down and make that weight. ... I'm the real deal. I didn't have handpicked opponents."
If Lundy wins tonight, it looks like he might be headed to the HBO spotlight. But don't count Beltran out, either. And truly, this is a Friday Night Fights worth tuning in to see -- not only might you be seeing Adrien Broner's next opponent in the main event, but the fight could be a damn good one, too.
I'm assuming Lundy isn't messed up by the weight issues yesterday making this pick, so keep that in mind. I like Lundy in this one, and I think he should be able to win without any questions about the scoring. Beltran is a good, tough fighter, but I believe Lundy is a good bit ahead of Bogere and Ramos. He's faced better opposition, been through tougher battles, and proven himself capable of coming back from adversity.
I also do believe Lundy will be able to maintain some distance if he fights smart the way he did against Dannie Williams. But there's a chance Lundy's natural instincts will kick in and he'll get into a pure throwdown, too. Either way, I think he's the better fighter, and I think we're going to see him back in Atlantic City on October 6. And if he gets there, I think Adrien Broner might be getting more than he bargained for, too. Lundy by decision.