Hype is a fickle beast, and in no sport is this more obvious than in the realm of boxing. Going into his Jan. 25th bout against Jose Hernandez (14-6-1, 6 knockouts), Tony Luis (15-1, 7 knockouts) seemed poised to become the next great talent coming out of Canada. With names like Lucian Bute (31-1, 24 knockouts) and Jean Pascal (27-2-1, 16 knockouts) having suffered defeats, it seemed obvious that Luis would be the next fighter to claim the throne atop of Canadian boxing. With a main-card spot on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights series, the world was ready to get a glimpse of what could be another young talent on the rise. Instead of the great Luis performance many had expected, fans witnessed Hernandez pick Luis apart before finally forcing the referee to stop the bout in the eighth round. With Luis trying to piece together what had gone wrong, Hernandez’ relished his moment as the underdog who overcame adversity.
“I’m not the type to make excuses”, Luis said, “No, my performance could have been better for technical reasons, but it had nothing to do with my conditioning. I was in good shape and I was ready to go. The only setback in training was that I was fighting a shoulder injury in preparation for that fight. There were about three weeks in that camp where I couldn’t take much contact during sparring so I had to depend on very light, more technical drills. We managed to get back on track since I still kept up my and kept working on my legs, but there were some fundamental mistakes I was making that I’ve been getting away with for a long time so I had to get back in the gym and brush up on [them] for this fight.”
By coming up short in what was deemed his most significant fight to date, it seemed as if the Luis hype-train had been de-railed. Although, some thought Luis’ career was dead in the water, the loss may prove to be just the jolt the young fighter needed.
“It helped me grow in the sense that I had to go back for several nights, thinking and getting back to the art of the game. It’s not just about speed and power, but defense, ring generalship, conditioning, balance, all that stuff. I just really had to get back to the science of the game again. That sort of forced me to come back and really appreciate the art of the sport.”
What Tony Luis hopes will be a phoenix-like rise back into the hearts and minds of fans and media alike, begins with a drop in weight. In a fact that was obvious when comparing the size of Hernandez and Luis during their match, Luis has decided that he’s much better off challenging fighters in a weight class that is much closer to being a natural fit for him.
“I’ve always been a natural lightweight, and the reason I’m coming back down is because I weighed under in my last fight. I came in at 138, two pounds under the limit, for my last fight, and I have to have a light breakfast that morning just so I wouldn’t come in too light. Even with that light breakfast I still came in two pounds under, so that was my body telling me that it’s time to go back down to lightweight.”
With a new outlook, new weight class, and new opponent in front of him, Tony Luis is more than prepared to make up for any lost ground. This all begins with a May 17th fight against journeyman, Maurycy Gojko (21-37-2, 7 knockouts). Although many question Gojko’s legitimacy as a(n) competitive opponent, Luis is all too aware of what could happen if he took any opponent lightly. It’s this newly found focus and dedication that leads Luis to acknowledge the immense pressure that is on him as everything is seemingly riding on this fight.
“I know what I have to do. I can’t just come back like I did the last time, but I do have to look good and blow the guy away. I have to make a statement.”
Regardless of what outcome Luis may face on May 17th, the sting of that Hernandez fault will always be felt in the back of his mind. Considering that Hernandez is the only blemish on his record, Luis seems keen on eventually avenging the lone loss on his record.
“I would love a rematch with Hernandez. We could do it at junior welterweight, or we could always meet at a catch-weight, either or; but I would absolutely love a rematch with Hernandez.”
For Tony “The Lightning” Luis, all roads have the chance to begin or end with Maurycy Gojko. It’s a rare thing for a previously undefeated fighter to ever recover the hype that ever came with the -0 at the end of a record, but Luis seems set to prove that this will be a case in which “The Lightning” does manage to strike twice.