Spence stops Bundu, calls out Brook
By Patrick McHugh: #2 IBF welterweight contender Errol Spence Jr. (21-0, 18 KOs) became the first person to KO #6 IBF Leonard Bundu (33-2-2, 12 KOs) during his career in knocking him out in the sixth round on Sunday at the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island, New York. It wasn’t a surprise to many boxing fans that Spence got the knockout, but it was a pleasant surprise to see how good he looked in doing the job on the 41-year-old Bundu in this fight.
Referee Johnny Callas stopped the fight at 2:06 of the round. Spence called out IBF champion Kell Brook after the fight, saying that he’s going to have to fight him or vacate his title.
(Photo credit: Ryan Greene/Premier Boxing Champions)
An energized Spence came out strong in the 6th round and knocked Bundu down twice with left uppercuts to the head. The referee started to count after the second knockdown but he then quickly abandoned the count when he saw that Bundu was badly hurt. After the first knockdown in the 6th, the referee was heard to say that the knockdown didn’t count.
It looked like a legitimate knockdown, and was assumed to be legit by the boxing fans at ringside. Spence certainly treated it as a real knockdown because went right after Bundu when the action resumed after he got back up. Bundu didn’t last long, as Spence caught him with a left followed immediately by a right hand that dropped him for the second time.
The win for Spence puts him in as the mandatory challenger to International Boxing Federation welterweight champion Kell Brook. Now it’s up to Brook to decide whether he wants any part of fighting Spence after he gets done with middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin next month on September 10.
Today’s Spence vs. Bundu fight was televised by Premier Boxing Champions on NBC.
“I thought my performance was great,” Spence said about his win. “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 wasn’t really shaky. He looked like he wasn’t ready to stay letting his hands go the way he needed to for it to be an easy fight for him. Instead of Spence unloading on Bundu with big power shots in the first two rounds, he fought cautiously by jabbing and throwing single power shots. This caused a role reversal with the small, weaker, an older Bundu being the one that was pressuring Spence. It was as if Spence had forgotten who he was, because there was no way that Bundu should have been the one doing the attacking. Bundu didn’t have any power or size going for him, and yet he was able to back Spence up frequently.
Spence did improve on the performance that Keith Thurman did in beating Bundu in 2014, but it took him a while to get his offense in gear. Spence didn’t really turn up the heat on Bundu until the 4th, when he hurt him with a left uppercut to the head. That was a round where Spence fought from the start to finish like he had in his last fight against Chris Algieri. Bundu wilted quickly from the power shots that Spence was throwing in the round, and he was ready to be knocked out towards the end of the round.
Spence let Bundu off the hook in the 5th round by going back to boxing him rather than looking to pressure him with big power shots. In fact, it was Bundu who landed the best shots in the 5th round when he hit Spence with two big right hands late in the round.
“This is a title eliminator so I definitely want my shot at the IBF title,” Spence 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.”
Spence might not get a fight against Brook, but he’ll definitely get his title shot at the IBF belt. It might be vacant though. The good news for Spence is he’ll have a great chance of winning the IBF belt against whomever the IBF lines up for him to fight, because there are no contenders in the IBF’s top 15 that would appear capable of troubling him other than Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson.
You have to favor Spence over both of those fighters, as good as they are. Spence is on a different level right now and his punching power and ability to box would give those guys fits. It would be interesting to see how Spence does against those fighters if Brook chooses to vacate his IBF title rather than trying to melt back down to 147. Even if Brook does come back down, he’s going to take his time about doing it. Brook won’t likely fight Spence in 2016. He’ll wait until 2017 before he comes back down and tries to defend his belt. By slowly getting his weight back down, Brook will have a better chance of taking the weight off slowly and not being hurt in the process by taking it off too quickly.
“With Keith, every (punch) is a power punch,” Bundu said after the fight via RingTV.com. “You feel them. Errol threw more but they didn’t all hurt.”
What Bundu says is irrelevant. He should have been knocked out in the 4th round when he was hurt by a shot from Spence. The referee saved Bundu by letting him have his mouthpiece put back in, which he had lost after getting hit.
Thurman didn’t knock Bundu out though. He was loading up on single shots rather than looking to box Bundu the way that Spence was. However, you could tell Bundu was bothered by Spence’s shots when he would load up with his left hand uppercuts, which were clearly the best shots he was throwing in the fight. Spence’s left hooks, straight lefts and right hooks weren’t nearly as powerful.
At the time of the stoppage, Spence was ahead 50-45, 50-45 and 50-45 by all three of the judges’ scorecards. They saw Spence winning every round. You can say that Bundu deserved to possibly win the 1st round, but that was it. Spence was outworking and out-boxing him in rounds two through five. Spence hurt Bundu in the 4th, and the fight could have ended in that round if the referee Johnny Callas had let Spence land a few shots after Bundu either lost or spit out his mouthpiece after getting caught with a big uppercut.
Bundu lasted one more round than Spence’s last opponent Chris Algieri, who Spence knocked out in five rounds last April. Spence probably could have knocked Bundu out in two or three rounds if he had attacked him a full assault of uppercuts and power shots. Spence focused on boxing Bundu too much and this kept him from being stopped earlier.
It’s good news that the fans finally know who Kell Brook’s mandatory challenger is. Spence will be a tough adversary for Brook. It’ll look bad on Brook’s part if he chooses to avoid the Spence fight by vacating his IBF title to keep from facing him.
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