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Errol Spence: I want Kell Brook

Errol Spence Jr Kell Brook

By Allan Fox: Welterweight contender Errol Spence Jr. stopped the game but limited Leonard Bundu on Sunday in the 6th round, and then immediately called out IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook for his now mandated title shot.

Spence came into the fight against the Italian based Bundu saying he wanted to knock him out to improve upon the performance Keith Thurman had in his 12 round decision win over him two years ago. That’s exactly what Spence did in knocking Bundu out in the 6th after dropping him twice in their IBF eliminator fight at the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.

(Photo credit: Ryan Greene/Premier Boxing Champions)

As far as Brook goes, he’s got a fight against a really tough customer in Gennady “GGG” Golovkin on September 10 at middleweight, and it’s hard to imagine Brook coming back down to 147 to fight someone as ferocious as Spence. Brook really bulked up for the Golovkin fight and recently weighed 176lbs for the 30-day weigh-in for that fight. The likelihood of Brook taking the weight off to get back down to 147 is remote.

One thing that could diminish the interest that Brook has in coming back down is the fact that Spence is now his IBF mandatory. This isn’t like before when the International Boxing Federation was making it easy on Brook by first making the light punching Jo Jo Dan his mandatory challenger, and then turning around installing Kevin Bizier as Brook’s second mandatory.

Those were two mediocre fighters in a row that the IBF gave for Brook to defend against in mandatory defenses. If the IBF kept installing poor welterweights as Brook’s mandatory challengers, he wouldn’t have to worry about being weight drained if he were to return to the 147lb division to continue to defend his IBF strap. Even Brook at 20%, he could beat guys like Bizier and Dan. However, against a fighter like Spence, it’s a much different story.

“I want a shot at Kell Brook as soon as he’s done with GGG,” said Spence. “If he’s not going to fight me, he needs to vacate and I’ll fight somebody else. But I definitely want that IBF title shot this year.”

We’ll find out what Brook is going to do shortly after his fight against Golovkin. The IBF is going to want a decision from Brook within two weeks after his fight against Brook. If Brook loses badly enough to Golovkin, he might decide in coming back down to the welterweight division in order to continue to have a weight advantage over his opponents down there. If Brook stays at middleweight, he would need to fight tough guys like Daniel Jacobs, and he might not have the talent to beat guys like him.

It would be academic that he can’t hang with Golovkin if he gets knocked out by him next month. Brook could go after WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, but even that belt isn’t safe because Golovkin wants a crack at it. Sure, Brook could beat Saunders and then put Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler on permanent ignore for the remainder of his career so that he can just sit back and defend the WBO title over and over against the World Boxing Organization’s contenders.

Spence’s knockout of Bundu in the sixth round was a vicious one, as he hurt him with a hard left uppercut and then finished him with a right hook. Bundu looked like he was going to go down from the left hand, but the right hand that followed it made sure that he wasn’t going to get up. Spence had knocked Bundu, 41, down previously in the sixth.

“He certainly lives up to the hype,” Bundu said about Spence via espn.com. “He looked fresh in every round. He was really good [and] remained in control. I really tried to get up and I couldn’t. I am OK, though. I feel good.”

Spence was going slow with his attacking of Bundu. Compared to Spence’s previous fights, he played it cautiously with Bundu in the first three rounds. Spence hurt Bundu with a left uppercut that caused him to lose or spit out his mouthpiece. Bundu was there for the taking, but referee Johnny Callas stopped the fight immediately to have his mouthpiece put back in. Callas was quick to stop the action during a very crucial time in the round, and he unwittingly helped Bundu survive the round because he was badly hurt.

Spence could have been better. It was far from a perfect performance from him. Spence was too cautious for his own good, and this enabled Bundu to hang around a lot longer than he should have. Spence had the power, size, youth and talent to get Bundu out of there quickly if he had wanted to, but he let the fight get to the sixth by giving the 41-year-old too much respect. The kind of respect that Spence was showing Bundu was the kind of respect you’d see for a much better fighter like Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman. It didn’t make sense for Thurman to treat Bundu with the same kind of respect.

“That’s what you want. That’s what you look for,” Spence said in talking about his KO of Bundu. “That’s what I want to do every time I come to the ring. I was going for the knockout. I was fighting on NBC and I wanted to put on a great performance in front of these beautiful fans.”

The knockout was Spence’s eighth consecutive knockout for him. Bundu was really no tougher than guys that Spence had knocked out previously like Alejandro Barrera and Chris Van Heerden. You can argue that those fighters were more competitive against Spence because they had more punching power and were taller than Bundu.

If Spence can KO Kell Brook this year or in 2017, it would be a very impressive accomplishment. If Spence has to fight someone else for the vacant IBF title like Lamont Peterson, it will still be a great accomplishment if he can knock him out to win the IBF title. Peterson is arguably a better fighter than Bundu.


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