ITALY’S 39-year-old Leonard Bundu, well known to UK fans for his exciting wins over Lee Purdy and Frankie Gavin earlier this year, is a big underdog entering his clash with the likewise unbeaten Keith Thurman. But Bundu, 31-0-2(11), is not concerned with the betting odds any more than he is concerned with his age.
The man known as “The Lion” is ready for a tough fight and a win in what will be his U.S debut on December 13 in Las Vegas.
Q: How highly do you rate Keith Thurman and which of his fights have you seen and been impressed by? Is he worthy of the hype he’s been getting?
Leonard Bundu: “He is a promising prospect, with proven skills and power – he’s got it all. Of course, people say he needs to be tested but he is definitely one of the best guys around today at 147-pounds. Let’s see what he can do against me. Let’s see what happens in the fight against me. Anything can happen in a boxing ring. As far as his fights; I liked the fight he had with [Diego] Chaves and also the points win he had over Jan Zaveck, where he proved he can go 12 good rounds. He showed toughness, skills and power in that fight. But I will be trying not to get hit too much when I fight him (laughs).”
Q: Thurman says he is the most avoided fighter out there. What does that say about you, who agreed to fight him?
L.B: “I’ve been here for ten years as a pro and this is my opportunity. This fight was offered to me and I accepted happily. It’s a risky fight but it is my chance to show the world that I am one of the top guys too. I’m not scared, like being the underdog, that doesn’t bother me. I think he is one of the most avoided fighters. Most guys would rather fight someone else. He has everything needed to become a real world champion. Most guys, they don’t want to take the risk. I’m at risk of losing and of being knocked out (laughs). But I’m coming. I want to see how far I can reach, how far I can go. It’s a test for me too and I’m in the gym every day. I’m not a lamb to the slaughter, I’m coming to fight and to win.”
Q: You have been in some exciting action fights and Thurman has as well. Is this fight can’t-miss action in your opinion?
L.B: “It will be a good fight, a great fight, but I can’t afford to stand and trade with him. I have to be smarter, and use my experience. That’s what I have over him: I’m older, have been around the game longer than he has and I have more experience. I will use all of that. He’s coming with punching power, I’m coming with experience and technique.”
Q: This will be your first fight in the U.S, and in Las Vegas at that. Are you excited or nervous?
L.B: “I’m super-excited! It’s really great to be fighting in America. I went out in August, to the Kell Brook fight [against Shawn Porter] in California, and I was at the Floyd Mayweather-Maidana fight. So I know what it’s like, the atmosphere and how electrifying it will be. I’m prepared for that. This time, I will not just be a spectator.”
Q: Is it possible Thurman and his team do not know too much about you and are perhaps underestimating you?
L.B: “Well, I hope they are underestimating me (laughs). You know, boxing is a world sport, with fighters from all over the world competing. In America the schooling is better, but we do our thing over here [in Italy] too. I have experience at having fought some good guys. I hope he is underestimating me and that he gets a big surprise in the fight.”
Q: You are 39 and he is 25. You are in great physical condition, as you proved in the Lee Purdy and Frankie Gavin fights. What would you say to a critic who brought up your age as a negative thing?
L.B: “To me, in my mind, I’m young like Keith Thurman. Of course he’s fresher, but I don’t even consider myself to be a 40-year-old guy. Whenever I read about an upcoming fight [involving myself], I say, ‘who is that 40-year-old guy!’ But I never consider my age to be a problem. I know some people are talking about my age on the internet, but to me it’s no big deal. I’m in shape and I feel like I did when I was younger. And I’m looking up to guys like Bernard Hopkins, who is 49. I’ve got a few years to offer yet.”
Q: You are competing in a great weight class. Who is the best welterweight in the world right now in your opinion?
L.B: “Oh, the very best is Floyd Mayweather. I really like him. A lot of people go against him, but he wouldn’t still be here at the top if he wasn’t that good. I know people like a slugfest – and I’ve been in a few myself – but Floyd Mayweather is the perfect example of what boxing should be. It’s a sport, not a massacre, you know.”
Q: Another big fight is the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri fight. How do you see that one going?
L.B: “I go with Manny Pacquiao. He’s another top guy of course, who I really love. I think he will get the [Algieri] fight over with. I saw Algieri’s win over the Russian guy, [Ruslan] Provodnikov and I don’t actually think he deserved the win. But he boxed well and he showed that he has a chance to go against guys like Pacquiao. But I take Pacquiao to win.”
Q: And of course you’d love a chance to fight Manny Pacquiao?
L.B: “Oh, boy! Of course. I want everybody but right now I’m concentrating on Thurman. Let’s see what happens and then see what happens afterwards. I want all the top guys but I have to get myself in line and prove that I can do it.”