Herrera-Lundy, A Hidden Gem Awaits

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Mauricio Herrera (21-5 7 KO) is not a gatekeeper. There have been a few fighters over the past year who have foolishly selected him as an opponent thinking that was the case and right or wrong have escaped with a victory. 

Nicknamed “El Maestro”, meaning “The Teacher”, Herrera has been known to school an opponent or two only to see the decision go against him. The problem is, the judges have viewed Herrera more as the student, and themselves, a non-flexible school board voting against a referendum they dislike no matter how good it looks leaking a stench of political bureaucracy.

In his last fight eight months ago, Herrera faced undefeated rising prospect and boxing prodigy, Jose Benavidez. Giving up several inches in height and reach and twelve years in age, Herrera was thought to be a tough “test” for the kid with the solid amatuer pedigree, but not good enough to upset the apple cart…oops.

Herrera controlled the large majority of the rounds by walking down the youngster with excellent head movement and a stiff jab while destroying his body and landing big power shots as they presented themselves. Not surprisingly, according to Compubox, Herrera landed more and was the busier fighter connecting on 295 out of 870 compared to Benavidez, 250 out of 647.

After the scores were tallied, Herrera had lost his interim WBA light welterweight title which he had won in defeating Johan Perez. The scorecards for Benavidez were preposterous, the first, a mind boggling “what the hell fight were you watching- “ score of 117-111 , and two cards of 116-112. The kid had a few moments but surely not enough to take the title and warrant the scores that he received. Most everyone seated on press row had the fight for Herrera by a wide margin.  Consider the apple cart annihilated.

Two fights prior to the Benavidez fight, Herrera faced Philadelphia’s undefeated WBA/WBC light welterweight champion Danny Garcia in Puerto Rico. Garcia, of Puerto Rican descent, would be fighting in front of a partisan crowd but would need to be dominating. Again, enter Herrera, just the type of opponent that would be needed, a tough rugged pugilist who would be just dangerous enough to make for a good fight but not dangerous enough to pose a serious threat to the champion….right? 

Oops… Herrera, un-gatekeeper like, frustrated Garcia for most of the night with surprisingly fast hands, an active jab, committed body work, and sneaky power shots while negating Garcia’s signature left hook. Herrera appeared to do better than two of the judges gave him credit for but there he was again, a majority decision loser, 114-114, and 116-112 X2. Although Garcia outlanded Herrera in power shots, their percentage landed was roughly the same. Herrera almost tripled Garcia in jabs landed and held a slight edge in total punches thrown and landed.

This Saturday night airing on HBO Latino from the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Herrera faces another Philadelphia fighter, “Hammerin” Hank (Henry) Lundy (25-4-1 12 KO) for the vacant NABF Super Lightweight title. 

Lundy, like Herrera, has also seen his share of close bouts, albeit not as controversial. Lundy’s last fight was also in December where he lost to Thomas Dulorme by split decision and missed out on a chance to capture the WBO junior middleweight title. In the fight against Dulorme, Lundy showed his mettle after being knocked down early and battling back gallantly almost capturing the victory.

Back in 2013, Lundy lost a close unanimous decision to Viktor Postol, and prior to that fight a majority decision loss to Raymundo Beltran. Lundy’s first loss came by way of stoppage back in 2010 to John Molina Jr. by TKO in round 11, a fight he was actually winning handily at the time of the stoppage. Lundy is 3-3 in his last six fights and we have to wonder if the real “Hammerin” Hank will ever stand up. 

Interesting to note here is the history of the reach advantage/disadvantage as it relates to each fighter. For Herrera, he seems to struggle against fighters with a shorter reach as all of his losses (with the exception of Benavidez, which was arguably a win) have come against fighters with a shorter reach and those closely resembling that of Lundy. By comparison, all of Lundy’s losses with the exception of Beltran, have come at the hands of fighters with a longer reach, closely resembling that of Herrera. That said, whoever establishes their jab, which both fighters use to great advantage to set up the other aspects of their game, may be an early tell on how the fight may progress. 

Both fighters are mirror images of each other in some aspects. They both like to move forward and bang when needed while using an active jab, and committing to the body. Lundy will have the speed advantage, Herrera the higher work rate, Herrera the faster starter, Lundy stronger late. 

Herrera could benefit from backing Lundy up and asserting himself early while banking rounds and tipping the score cards in his favor. Lundy, moving inside the length of Herrera to throw punches in bunches and then defensively moving to defend against the relentless counter attack of Herrera may allow him to control rounds.  

Said Herrera-
“I feel great. I feel prepared and ready to beat Lundy and if he wants to brawl, box or do whatever, I’m ready. I feel there is a big possibility that I can stop him.”

Countered Lundy-
“He [Herrera] may have beaten another Philly fighter, Danny Garcia, but he’s got to realize I’m another type of animal. I’m a throwback fighter and on Saturday, Herrera is going to see what Hammerin’ Hank is all about.”

This could be a close fight and another scorecard fiasco. If this fight is a draw after the final bell,  they need to invoke the ESPN Boxcino tiebreaker format. Fight one more round for all the marbles and if it still is a draw, the fans decide the winner via social media vote. Just saying.

Herrera and Lundy are what is right about boxing, hard working blue collar fighters who work on their craft and come ready to give their all from the opening bell. 

A true crossroads fight for both and one that has the makings of something special. The “styles make fights” idiom can be used here with no apologies. When you pit two hungry fighters in against each other, each searching for that one career defining win and searching for respect, we may get something special.

The winner catapulted to contender status in the division, the loser, well, there’s always work for a gatekeeper, buyer beware.

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