The Breakdown from SHOWTIME Boxing Analyst Steve Farhood
It’s just not done this way.
On Friday night in Cleveland, Cuban lightweight Angelo Santana, coming off a stoppage loss on ShoBox 10 months ago, tackles Philadelphia’s Hank Lundy.
What makes this ShoBox main event so unusual: Lundy is a better fighter than Bahodir Mamadjanov, the fighter who upset Santana last April.
Tune-ups? Apparently, Santana doesn’t need no stinkin’ tuneups. After struggling in the shallow end of the pool, the powerpunching southpaw is diving head-first into deep waters.
If he doesn’t swim to safety, his decision to return against as challenging an opponent as Lundy will be viewed as career-suicide. After all, Lundy is a battle-tested contender who holds wins over current titlist Richar Abril, former titlist David Diaz, and contender Olusegun Ajose.
Santana is only 25, and time is not an issue. So why is he choosing to risk so much? A decidedly Freudian analysis: As top-level fighters are apt to do, he’s rationalized his sole loss. In his mind, it never happened. That’s because Santana had weakened himself by dropping 38 pounds in six weeks. Moreover, he was battling back and knee injuries, and dealing with the death of his grandmother.
“I never imagined I was going to lose that fight,” he said. “But that is in the past.”
Photo: Tom Casino / SHOWTIME
Are we talking the recent past or the distant past? The answer will be determined by the outcome of the Lundy fight.
I consider Santana-Lundy one of the most intriguing and meaningful main events in ShoBox’s 13-year history. The stakes are enormous: Should Santana rebound to win, he’ll be in position to challenge for a world title in the relatively weak lightweight division. The same goes for Lundy, who more than once has been a single win away from securing a shot at a world title.
And if Santana should lose? He’ll likely be forgotten, as was the case with heavily hyped Cubans Ramon Garbey, Jorge Luis Gonzalez, and Yan Barthelemy.
Against Mamadjanov, Santana was dropped three times and halted in round nine. By taking this fight, he’s insisting he’s better than that.
You have to love a young fighter who bets his last dime on himself, especially when he has other options.
Santana just better be right.
In the opening bout on ShoBox, blue-chip junior welterweight prospect Amir Imam looks to build on the momentum he established in his series debut: On the card that was headlined by Mamadjanov-Santana, Imam scored a did-you-see-that one-punch kayo of his toughest opponent to date, Jeremy Bryan.
Photo: Tom Casino / SHOWTIME
Now 12-0 with 11 kayos, Imam faces another unbeaten prospect, Jared Robinson.
To date, 113 fighters have suffered their first loss on ShoBox. Number 114 will likely come on Friday night.
Tune in to ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday, February 21 at 10:45 PM ET/PT