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Malignaggi impressed by Spence’s win over Bundu

Errol Spence Jr Paulie Malignaggi

By Allan Fox: Former two division world champion Paulie Malignaggi was highly impressed with what he saw on Sunday with unbeaten #2 IBF 147lb contender Errol Spence Jr. (21-0, 18 KOs) stopping a very game Leonard Bundu (33-2-2, 12 KOs) in the 6th round in an IBF welterweight eliminator bout at the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York. Malignaggi liked the way that the 26-year-old Spence thought his way through a somewhat difficult fight against the 41-year-old Bundu.

It wasn’t that Spence was losing the fight at any time, according to Malignaggi. It was the constant pressure that Bundu was creating that made Spence have to think his way through the fight. Malignaggi liked what he saw from Spence, and he feels that he’ll be in a big fight either by the end of 2016 or in early 2017.

Malignaggi doesn’t think IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook will be coming back down to the welterweight division to defend his title after he faces IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin on September 10.

Brook’s recent 30-day weigh-in weight of 176lbs for that fight has Malignaggi thinking that he won’t be coming back down to defend his IBF crown against Spence, because he’s become too heavy for the division to make weight.

“He made a statement,” said Malignaggi to about Spence. “I didn’t see that one coming. He showed a lot of character. Leonard, he wasn’t winning the fight, but he was making Errol work, he was making him really think. Leonard is a guy who creates havoc and panic, even when he’s not winning. Errol had to really think his way through it, and then get the knockout. I was really impressed, not only with the knockout, but how he went about his business in getting to the point where he got the knockout. It really looked like a savvy veteran in there the way he handled his situation tonight,” said Malignaggi.

Bundu was putting pressure on Spence with the way he was coming forward and trying to throw a lot of punches. Bundu wasn’t landing with a lot of accuracy with his punches, but he was still able to connect with something nice every now and then to get Spence’s attention. Bundu has better power than he’s given credit for. He caught Spence with some really big shots in the fight both to the head and the body. Spence kept his cool though and didn’t start flinging shots in a wild way like some fighters do when they get clipped by a big power shot. Spence would always back up and start jabbing and throwing power shots in a controlled manner.

When asked when Spence would get a big fight, Malignaggi said, “He’s with Al Haymon, they’re coming. By the end of the year, or early next year, he’s going to get a big fight. Errol will be in a big fight or a title fight. With the IBF title, I don’t see Kell Brook coming back to welterweight. Kell’s a big welterweight and that 30-day weigh-in for the [Gennady] Golovkin fight kind of showed me that he’s got no shot at making welterweight anymore. So the IBF title might go vacant. He’s the mandatory. I believe it’s going to be Lamont Peterson and Errol.. Now it’s for the IBF world title. There’s more on the line. There’s more money now on the line. Everybody has a price. Even if you don’t want to do something, for the right price, you’re going to do something,” said Malinaggi.

You have to see former IBF light welterweight champion Lamont Peterson (34-3-1, 17 KOs) as a very likely opponent for Spence to be fighting for the IBF title if Brook vacates the belt. Peterson is ranked at #5 by the IBF right now. The IBF will offer the fight to the Top Rank promoted #3 Konstantin Ponomarev first. If he or Top Rank turns it down, then the next fighter that will get a shot is #4 IBF Jeff Horn. Those are decent fighters, but they might not want any part of Spence.

If they do take the fight, it’s hard to picture them doing well against him because they’re not big punchers or pressure fighters. Peterson at least is a pressure fighter that likes to throw a lot of body punches. He might make for a more exciting fight than anyone else that the IB has ranked in their top 15 at this time. The 32-year-old Peterson recently beat Felix Diaz by a 12 round majority decision last October. Peterson hasn’t fought in 2016 yet. He’ll have been out of the ring for an entire year in October. That’s not normal for Peterson to miss a lot of time like that. A fight against Spence would be perfect.

Spence’s promoter Lou Dibella says that he’ll be back inside the ring before the end of the year.

“He’s [Bundu] going to the hospital. He’s never been knocked out before. He obviously didn’t have his bearings,” said Dibella to Fighthype. “He’s a real professional fighter; he’s had a hell of a career. He’s a 2012 Olympian. I think the Commission made a decision to send him to the hospital and his people were 100 percent behind it to get him checked out. He’s talking, he’s fine. He’s in his dressing room. It also says a lot about the young Mr. Spence. He’s a beast. His nickname is ‘The Truth,’ and I must say that’s an accurate nickname. As a very young fighter, I haven’t seen any holes in his game. I don’t see where his vulnerability is. Spence wants the IBF belt. Spence did this on national broadcast TV, following the Olympic basketball game. I think we’re going to see more of that because he has so much talent. He certainly wants a fight before the year’s end. It’s going to have to be for the IBF belt. I have a weird feeling when Golovkin is through with [Kell] Brook, I have a hard time seeing Brook coming down for this. Kell Brook is a very good fighter. He can go to 154 and be a real good fighter at 154. So my guess is the kid is going to wind up fighting for this IBF belt before the end of the year, I think,” said Dibella.

I think Dibella is right about Brook vacating his IBF welterweight title after the Golovkin fight. It’ll be too hard on Brook to take all the weight off to get back down to 147, and it’s the wrong fighter for him to be draining to get down to the weight. If this was an easy opponent that Brook could beat with ease, then it would be worth it for him to come back down. If this was Amir Khan, then Brook obviously would take the weight off to fight him because the money in a fight between those two guys would be huge.

Brook can make decent money fighting Spence, but the risk might not be worth it. Brook will be getting a really big payday in the Golovkin fight on September 10, and he might not be too excited at taking a large pay cut to fight a guy almost as damage in Spence. I think Brook will vacate his IBF title and either campaign as a junior middleweight or move up to middleweight.

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