By Jason Pribila, ringside in Atlantic City: Friday Night Fights returned to the ESPN2 airwaves on Friday Night as Philadelphia’s Hammerin’ Hank Lundy faced Raymundo Beltran in a lightweight attraction at the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Lundy had expected to get a title shot after he defeated Dannie Williams on the very same airwaves in March. That title shot did not come so Lundy chose to stay busy by fighting Beltran, who entered the bout winning only three of his last six bouts.
The fears of those who felt Lundy took this fight lightly soon became a reality. Beltran used his height to control the distance and continually force Lundy to the ropes. Lundy threw single punches, but failed to land anything early. He seemed slow, and his punches seemed to lack any snap on them. The whispers of him having problems making weight seemed to be based more on fact than rumor.
Action reached its peak in round three when Beltran again trapped Lundy against the ropes. Lundy squared up and tried to fight off the ropes flat-footed. Beltran took advantage and landed rights and lefts as Lundy slumped into the ropes. Lundy then landed a desperation left hook of his own that landed on Beltran’s chin. Beltran caught his balance and came forward to hug Lundy as a sign of mutual respect as the round ended.
Lundy recovered from the scare in round three and began to fight a much smarter fight. When Beltran would come forward, Lundy was more effective at slipping punches and using his legs to escape.
The bout soon fell into a pattern fight. Beltran came forward, but threw punches at air. Lundy was able to slip punches and catch Beltran with shots to the head as he escaped. Lundy evened the score on my card through six.
Lundy took the lead on my card in the seventh. He was now using the ropes at his back to his advantage. He seemed to be setting traps for Beltran who was now coming forward minus the steam on his punches.
To his credit, Beltran never showed signs of frustration and continued to fight coming forward. Stretches where he may not have been effective, he was appealing to judges who favored aggression. Lundy seemed to have a false sense of security and no when he would force Beltran to miss, he no longer made him pay.
I had the bout even after eight, while many in press row had Lundy slightly ahead. Veteran boxing scribe Ken Hissner remained the lone voice supporting Beltran’s aggressiveness.
The final six minutes would determine if one fighter would get his title shot and the payday that went along with it; while the other’s career lied in the balance. However, rather than drama we saw action that inspired veteran writer Jack Obermeyer to ask, “Does anyone wanna win this fight?”.
The answer appeared to be Beltran who was at least trying to win. On the flipside, Lundy fought as a guy who simply did not want to lose.
When the judges ‘cards read: 95-95, 96-94, 96-94, many thought Lundy had done enough to escape with a victory. Instead, Lundy was harshly reminded of the danger of letting his fate in the hands of the judges.
The loss is devastating to Lundy, whose career will likely be set back at least another year; without the guarantee of a six figure payday ever coming his way.
The in-house crowd had to wait for 45 minutes from the time the final untelevised bout ended and the ESPN cameras began to roll. At times it seemed as super middleweights Farah Ennis (20-1, 12 KO) and Richard Pierson (11-2, 8 KO) were content to make them wait for 40 minutes longer.
Ennis was viewed as the better boxer prior to the belt and he showed just that when the opening bell rank. He was responsible for what little action there was early. He scored with his jab and found success when he chose to dig punches to Pierson’s body. Pierson seemed stiff while looking to land a big punch.
After four easy rounds to score, Pierson finally got on the board by landing a pair of big right hands. Ennis seemed stunned for a moment, and would go down to the canvas on what was ruled a slip. If Ennis’ legs were betraying him, Pierson missed out on his opportunity to find out. Rather than letting his hands go, he let Ennis off the hook and allowed the final minute of the round to tick away.
With Ennis comfortably ahead on the cards, he fought cautiously throughout the second half of the fight. If the tide would turn, it would be up to Pierson to force it to happen. He momentarily caught Ennis against the ropes in the ninth round, but his window was again shut.
Ennis remained out of harm’s way as the final bell rang. The judges’ cards reflected the action that took place in the ring (which is not always a given in New Jersey), and Ennis was a unanimous winner by scores of: 99-91, 98-92, and 98-92.