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Errol Spence Jr. vs. Leonard Bundu in IBF 147lb eliminator

By Scott Gilfoid: After failing to get any of the top six guys for an IBF welterweight eliminator, #2 IBF Errol Spence Jr. (20-0, 17 KOs) is reportedly now facing #7 IBF Leonard Bundu (33-1-2, 12 KOs) in the IBF 147lb eliminator bout, according to Fight News. Spence and Bundu have given the green light for the fight to take place.

The fight between Spence and Bundu is expected to take place in August. The fighters’ management have until next month on July 22 to come to an agreement otherwise it’ll go to a purse bid. Spence’s manager Al Haymon is working on a deal with Bundu’s promoter Mario Loreni to put the fight together.

The winner of the Spence-Bundu fight will be the new #1 IBF ranked contender.

Bundu has won his last two fights since losing to Keith Thurman by a 12 round decision in December 2014. That was the fight that Thurman spent much of the contest running around the ring after getting nailed by some hard shots from Bundu early on. Thurman did knock Bundu down in the 1st, but the fight became difficult afterwards for Thurman when Bundu failed to fold.

After the fight, Thurman was booed loudly from the boxing fans, who weren’t happy with his constant movement during the fight. Bundu has since beaten Pablo Munguia and Jussi Koivula. The win over Koivula earned Bundu the vacant EBU welterweight title that he had previously held. Bundu has past wins over Frankie Gavin and Lee Purdy. Bundu fought in the 2000 Olympics for Italy, and was eliminated by Daniyar Munaitbasov or Kazakhstan in his second fight in losing 13-4. Bundu defeated Daniel Geale in his first fight by a 4-2 score.

You can argue that this step is hardly necessary after Spence beat Chris Algieri last April by a 5th round knockout. That fight seemingly should have been enough for Spence to be locked into a world title shot at the IBF belt, but for some reason the International Boxing Federation is making Spence jump through one more hoop by facing Bundu before he can get a shot at IBF champion Kell Brook. Hopefully, we don’t see the IBF creating another eliminator after this one to keep this thing going because it’s tiresome to see fighters having to jump through hoops just to get a title shot.

The IBF made it easy for Brook’s last two IBF mandatory challengers Kevin Bizier and Jo Jo an to get locked into a title spot. For Bizier to become the IBF #1 mandatory challenger, he only needed to beat Fredrick Lawson last November. At the time, Bizier had lost two out of his last five fights. Why on earth the IBF allowed a struggling fighter like Bizier to fight in an eliminator is hard to understand.

I think Bizier shouldn’t have been ranked in the top 15, period. That’s me though. I believe in fighters should be doing well in their respective careers when fighting in eliminators. As for Jo Jo Dan, all he needed to do for him to become the #1 fighter was beat Bizier. It’s all quite sad, really. Why Dan didn’t need to fight any of the talented contenders like Spence or Shawn Porter in an eliminator is unknown. I mean, I wouldn’t setup a fight between Jo Jo Dan and Bizier for an eliminator bout, because I would have already seen that Dan had been twice between by Selcuk Aydin in the past.

Aydin is a fine 2nd tier fighter, but not someone deserving of a top 15 ranking in my view. The fact that Jo Jo Dan was twice whipped by Aydin should have resulted in Dan not getting selected in an IBF eliminator. The IBF made it too easy for Brook in his two mandatories he’s had since winning the IBF title in 2014. Now with Brook about to be stuck with a dangerous Spence – or Bundu – as his next IBF mandatory, Hearn is saying Brook will be moving up to 154 next year. The timing for Brook is perfect, isn’t it?

There were a number of fighters that were ranked above the 41-year-old Bundu, and I’m not sure why they didn’t agree to face the talented Spence. Of course, I can speculate that they might have not fancied the idea of getting in the ring with the young 26-year-old Spence and risking suffering a bad knockout. Spence is like a freight train right now moving at full speed through the welterweight division.

It’s probably not a good idea to get in his way at this time. IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn said this week that Brook will for sure be moving up to junior middleweight in 2017. That means that Spence will probably not get a crack at Brook if/when he beats Bundu.

Here are the guys that are ranked above Bundu:

#3 Konstantin Ponomarev
#4 Jeff Horn
#5 Lamont Peterson
#6 Samuel Vargas

At only 5’6 ½,” Bundu will be giving away three inches in height to the 5’9 ½” Spence and another four inches in reach. That’s not good for Bundu because he’s going to be up against it anyway due to the much younger and more powerful Spence having a huge advantage in the power and youth department. It just looks really bad for Bundu because he’s going to be facing such a good fighter at the wrong point of his own career.

Bundu has never been knocked out before during his career, but I have a feeling that he’s going to be stopped for the first time by Spence. The only way I can see Bundu surviving for the full 12 rounds is if he runs. Thurman had the power to stop Bundu, but he wasn’t willing to get in the trenches with him do what he needed to do in order to KO him. Spence won’t shy away from going for the knockout, and he’ll walk though any everything Bundu throws his way so that he can take him out. Bundu will need a great chin for him to survive the distance. The thing is Spence throws to the body, and there’s no way you can prepare for those types of shots. Bundu can have the best chin in the world, and it won’t help him if Spence’s focus is to the body.

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