Wednesday, March 22, 2023  |



Spence nearly knocks Bundu out of the ring, calls out Kell Brook

Errol Spence Jr. (L) and Leonard Bundu. Photo by Ed Diller/ Premier Boxing Champions


The biggest question entering Errol Spence Jr.’s fight with Leonard Bundu on Sunday wasn’t if Spence would win. It was a foregone conclusion that Spence would prevail against his 41-year-old opponent. Spence is that good.

No, the dominant issue was whether Spence could rout Bundu in more impressive fashion than welterweight titleholder Keith Thurman, who went the distance and won a dominant decision in 2014.

Spence nearly airmailed his answer, sending Bundu through the air with a vicious left uppercut in the sixth and nearly driving him out of the ring with a sizzling right hand. Referee Johnny Callas took one look at Bundu, his head sagging off the stage after dropping from the bottom rope and waived off the bout at 2:06 of the sixth round at the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn in a PBC on NBC card in a world title eliminator for the IBF welterweight title.

“I thought my performance was great,” Spence said afterward. “I was shaky in the first and second rounds, but was able to get into a rhythm the rest of the fight. Once I was able to catch his rhythm and break him down, I knew I had him.”

Spence dropped Bundu with a windup uppercut in the sixth that wasn’t called a knockdown for some reason and was ruled a push instead and finished him with the right. He was up by scores of 50-45 (Glenn Feldman), 50-45 (Larry Hazzard Jr.) and 50-45 (Don Trella) at the time of the stoppage before an announced crowd of 3,723 fans. Bundu said that Spence (21-0, 18 knockouts) was more “precise” with his shots than Thurman had been when they met. “With Keith, every (punch) is a power punch,” Bundu said. “You feel them. Errol threw more but they didn’t all hurt.”

The last ones surely did. After he became the first fighter to stop the durable Bundu, Spence walked around the ring smiling in the open air arena, making a motion with his hands as if he was placing a belt around his waist. The bout was an eliminator for the right to vie for the title currently held by Kell Brook, who faces Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight championship on Sept. 10.

“This is a title eliminator so I definitely want my shot at the IBF title,” the 26-year-old left-hander said. “Either this year or early next year but hopefully it’s this year. I want to fight Kell Brook. He has the IBF world title. I paid my dues and it’s time to fight for the IBF.”

DiBella said Bundu (33-2-2, 12 KOs) was headed to a local hospital to get checked out for precautionary reasons. He also suggested that Sunday’s fight could be his last after an 11-year career. “This is probably it for him,” DiBella said. “He’s probably going to retire after this. He’s had a hell of a career.”

If this is Bundu’s swan song, then he went out with an aggressive, risky performance that ultimately backfired. Bundu charged out of his corner and tried to swarm Spence; he found some success, especially in the fifth when he seemed to briefly stun Spence with a pair of flush right hands. He tried to catch Spence off guard by continuously switching from orthodox to southpaw.

“I was never hurt but I was confused,” Spence said. “Just his herky jerky style and how he jumps in and out.” But he eventually figured him out in a patient, methodical performance.

Spence dominated the first round, digging to Bundu’s body and whipping shots at his shorter opponent. Spence nearly fell out of the ring in the second when he lost his footing as he back-pedaled. Bundu had a little more success in the second, landing a couple wild shots as he barreled in, catching Spence a little off guard. But Spence was dominant again, landing some hellacious body shots, the sound of fist slapping skin clearly heard in the outdoor air.

Spence stunned Bundu in the fourth with a one-two combination. Bundu nodded his head, acknowledging the blows as he skirted backward. Moments later, Bundu lost his mouthpiece after Spence landed a wicked left uppercut. Spence went after Bundu, thinking he may be hurt, and the two stood toe to toe in the middle of the ring trading haymakers.

Bundu landed a pair of flush right hands in the fifth that glanced off the side of Spence’s face. Bundu followed that up with a left that seemed to buckle Spence slightly. It was Bundu’s best round of the fight; Spence was taking the the round off to get his second wind, saving himself for an exciting finish.

“He’s as complete a fighter as there is,” DiBella said. “He doesn’t have any weaknesses. Bundu is a tough guy and he’s never been stopped and look what Spence did to him.”

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