SEBASTIAN FUNDORA insists he’ll prove he is more than just a boxing beanpole by ruining the 22nd birthday celebrations of Manuel Zepeda in Iowa tonight (Friday), live on BoxNation.
Records have the undefeated California man as standing 6ft 7in, but when measured this week he stood at 6ft 5 1/2in - the tallest boxer ever in the super-welterweight division.
Fundora, who has won all 12 fights, accepts that his outrageous height is more of a talking point than his skills, adding: “It’s not going to go away and I understand why people talk about it. If anything, it helps me get more publicity so it’s a good thing.
“I usually bring the fight to my opponents. I think the best defence is a good offence. It’s natural for me to fight on the inside because that’s what my father taught me when I was younger.
“This fight is just another stepping stone for me. It’s just another step to get higher in the rankings and get closer to a title shot.
“I’m expecting fireworks. We’ll take it round by round but I know what the fans like, and that’s knockouts.”
Zepeda isn’t a small man and stands six feet tall, making him the tallest fighter Fundora has faced professionally.
And he warned that he will make it win number 18 on a birthday to remember, and says: “Everybody is talking about Fundora’s height but it’s not that important to me. They are putting so much attention on it but this is a 50-50 fight.
“Fundora has a Mexican style of fighting. He likes to come forward so I think the fans will be in for a great fight. I’m going to use my intelligence and my ability to box.”
In the opening bout of the triple-header which boasts six fighters with a combined record of 90-1, undefeated prospect Yeis Solano will face former Argentine lightweight Champion Elias Damian Araujo.
The Argentine slugger thought he was going to be following in the footsteps of his nation’s great soccer stars, but quickly got the boxing bug when he went to a show as a fan.
He explained: “Soccer was my passion for most of my life; I wanted to be like Lionel Messi. But that changed the very first time I went to a boxing match.
“A friend of mine invited me to his amateur fight in Rufino, Santa Fe and that was it. I fell in love with boxing.
“I started boxing at 25, that’s late for a boxer but I have been an athlete my entire life. I don’t feel I’m at a disadvantage.
“I was offered this fight a few weeks ago, and I took it, of course. I’ve been in training camp with Sebastian Fundora, the main event of this card. This is my time to shine.”
Colombian Solano, who has knocked out ten of his 14 victims, said: “Araujo stands in front of you and comes forward. I like that. He’s a good match for my style.
“I can pack a punch. I have power and a mean left. I’m not concerned about Araujo”
Dominican Republic’s Michel Rivera will be the fancied man when he takes on Mexico’s Rene Tellez Giron over eight rounds at lightweight.
It is his American debut and one he dare not throw away against Giron who has won all 13 and upset Aram Fanilan in Kiev last October to claim the WBC Youth silver super-lightweight title.
“I love the Dominican Republic but the opportunities are not the same over there,” claimed Rivera.
“That’s why I’m slowly moving my training camp to Miami. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been training with Luis Ortiz’s trainer, German Caicedo.
“Giron is a strong boxer but nothing that I haven’t seen before. He is a Mexican and he is always looking to fight.
“He’s small but he’s a warrior. I am prepared for every scenario. I don’t think he has enough skills to counter me. I believe I’m the better fighter and that I can win this fight.”