The most feared fighter in boxing’s 135-pound division closed out another stellar season of “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN and, quite possibly, wrote the final chapter of David Diaz’s outstanding career.
Philadelphia’s “Hammerin’” Hank Lundy (21-1-1, 11 KOs) defended his North American Boxing Federation (NABF) lightweight title in his first attempt Friday, knocking out Diaz 37 seconds into the sixth round of their scheduled 10-round nationally-televised co-feature at The Venue at the Horseshoe Casino.
Friday’s event, promoted by Hitz Boxing in association with Banner Promotions, was the season finale of ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” series.
After getting knocked down early in the fourth round courtesy of a hard right by Diaz (36-4-1, 17 KOs), Lundy switched back to his traditional southpaw stance and closed out the former world champion with an overhand left that sent Diaz to the canvas and sent Lundy to his third consecutive victory.
“There’s something about those straight punches,” Lundy said. “When you land those straight punches, you don’t even have to look. You know once you connect, it’s done.
“Everyone can get hurt,” he continued. “Even with gloves on, it doesn’t matter. You can get touched in the right way and go down, but it’s how you finish the fight. Like the scriptures say, ‘We fall down, but we get back up.’ It’s all about how you finish, and God gave me the power to get up and finish.”
Lundy looked sharp in the first three rounds, switching between his southpaw and right-handed stance to keep the 35-year-old Diaz off balance. Lundy jabbed effectively throughout the fight, which allowed him to utilize his overhand lefts and occasional uppercuts to build an early lead entering the fourth.
The fight remained one-sided until Diaz cracked Lundy with an overhand right that sent the defending champion stumbling to the canvas. Diaz picked up the pace in an attempt to finish the fight, but eventually wore himself out instead.
“I think that was my mistake,” Diaz said. “I should’ve been more calm because my legs were still wobbly.”
Toward the end of the fourth round, Diaz suffered a brutal cut over his right eye that left him covered in blood for the remainder of the fight. Diaz claimed an inadvertent elbow from Lundy caused the damage, whereas Lundy attributed the wound to his “stiff, fast, power jab.”
The ringside doctor examined the cut at the beginning of the fifth and again midway through the round, but decided to let Diaz continue. Lundy eventually finished the fight himself, catching Diaz with the knockout blow just 37 seconds into the sixth.
“[The cut] got him frustrated,” Lundy said. “I’ve been cut before, so it all depends on your career. Some guys see their own blood and fold under pressure and get a little tentative. I know when I get cut I’m going to see my own blood, but that makes me work harder.”
“It blurred my vision a lot,” Diaz said. “It was just coming down, but you’ve got to push through. That’s what I tried to do.”
The real key to victory for Lundy, aside from finishing the fourth round unscathed, was his decision to switch back to southpaw in the fifth, which slowed Diaz’s momentum.
“I broke him down a little bit,” Lundy said. “They know I’m a switch hitter so when I turned it right-handed I said, ‘OK, I’m going to try to go southpaw and try to land that overhand left.’
“I feigned him with the jab, he clinched, and then the left hand came over the top that he didn’t see. He was out. [My trainer] Sloan [Harrison] has been helping me turn those punches over. Everyone on the Lundy team has been working hard and that’s what we’ve been doing – turning those punches over.”
“My mistake was going to my right,” Diaz said. “I should’ve gone to my left and stayed away from the left hand that was coming.”
Friday’s loss will temporarily stall Diaz’s comeback attempt as he aims for his second world title in the lightweight division, but he’s willing to continue fighting and, perhaps, step back into the ring with Lundy for another shot at the NABF belt.
“I would love to have a rematch if he would accept it,” Diaz said. “This is boxing. [Stuff] happens. You get hit, you get hurt, you get cut – if you don’t, then it’s not boxing. Back in the old days, guys used to get knocked out everyday and come back in a month or two and start fighting again, so it’s no big deal.”
Lundy, meanwhile, is once again aiming for the top of the 135-pound division, patiently waiting for his opportunity to showcase his talents in front of a worldwide audience. With another impressive win in the books, a shot at a world title might be looming on the horizon.
“You know what? Any guys in the 135-pound division that’s willing to fight me – [Robert] Guerrero, any of these top guys – let’s go,” Lundy said. “If not, I’ll go up to 140.
“I was fighting at 140 making a statement. Most of my knockouts came at 140, so I can bang with the big guys. God willing, anybody that comes my way, let’s get it. Let’s get it.”