Standing at two inches tall, Sebastian Fundora has a reach advantage over Oleksandr Usyk, who holds the IBF-WBA-WBO Heavyweight titles. Fundora, who is 24, holds the interim WBC super welterweight title.
He’s been boxing’s biggest matchup problem in years. On Saturday, when he meets Carlos Ocampo at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. in the main event of a card aired on Showtime, Fundora will have a six-and-a-half inch height advantage and a seven-inch reach.
But these days, he’s not the only member of the Fundora family creating nightmares for opposing boxers and trainers. Fundora’s 20-year-old sister, Gabriela, is also fighting in Carson on Saturday.
She is 5-9 and has an 8 inch height advantage over Naomi Arellano Reyes who is 5-1. But the fight will be fought at flyweight, where a giant like Gabriela is rarely seen. Claressa Shields, the pound-for-pound best woman in the world, is 5-8 but will fight at middleweight on October 15.
There are many benefits to having such an advantage in height and reach, but squeezing a physique this big into those weights isn’t always easy.
“It’s just hard work,” Gabriela said of the weight. “We train to make the fight look easy. We try to stay graceful and use our reach. And just our boxing makes it look like a dance. That’s it.”
Nobody ever accused Sebastian of dancing in the ring. His April 9 fight with Erickson Lubin in Las Vegas is the front-runner for Fight of the Year and was a brutal, vicious bout that Fundora won by stoppage after nine tough rounds.
The strategy against long arm fighters like the Fundoras is to push them and take away their punching space, but Sebastian and Gabriela have seen that so many times and have been able to adapt.
They’ve spent time perfecting their inside game with their father, Freddy Fundora Sr. They know what to expect when they step into the ring. But it’s also a natural talent for the sport that they have that not everyone has.
“Of course I had to work on it,” said Sebastian. “But it was easy to work on because that’s how the fighters would want to fight me. They would come closer. And instead of getting away from it, why not invite it in and learn how to fight that way?”
The Fundoras are competitive in pretty much every aspect of their lives, both in the ring and among themselves. They’re close, but when it comes to singing or karaoke, the competition is fierce.
However, in the ring, Sebastian is Gabriela’s biggest fan and vice versa. But despite the sometimes brutal nature of boxing, neither gets too nervous when the other is fighting.
They know how hard their sibling has worked and trust in his/her talent.
Even when Sebastian was not doing well with his convincing victory over Lubin, Gabriela remained calm and confident.
“I already knew [he’d be OK because] I train with him,” said Gabriela. “So I know what he’s got and what he’s capable of. So it was good while it lasted. But you know, he’s strong for what he is. I was confident then. I was confident that he would do his thing and come out victorious at the end of the night. And he was.”
Sebastian Fundora agreed to take on Ocampo, who is 34-1, as a sort of fight that stays busy. He’s focused on big things and would love to have a fight with undisputed world super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo.
In boxing, these types of fights rarely come together quickly, so Fundora agreed to face Ocampo in hopes of landing the big ones.
“Just like my sister, I also want to keep busy,” said Sebastian. “We need these tough fights to keep growing. Just like the last few fights, they were all tough fights. Another ranked fighter added to my tally I think is great for me. Just keep the same formula and we will keep growing.”
The word he might have chosen was development as both Sebastian and Gabriela develop talents with limitless potential. But keep growing? Well, if they get a lot bigger someone might try to implement a rule to force them to go up a division or four.