May 24, 2017
May 24, 2017
Leonard Bundu

Premier Boxing Champions/Ryan Greene

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WITH ‘The Truth’ looming ever closer for Kell Brook, Boxing News spoke to Errol Spence’s last opponent, Leonard Bundu, about this weekend’s huge showdown.

Bundu fought Spence last August in the Italian’s second big American fight after two separate reigns as undefeated European champion – in 2014 he lost a one-sided but creditable decision to the excellent Keith Thurman in Las Vegas. That Thurman fight, in which a frustrated and wary Bundu was never really able to get close to his elusive but always coiled adversary, played a part in influencing how he approached the Spence fight. Determined not to let the rounds get away from him, Bundu put in a spirited effort against Spence and had the occasional success. Nonetheless he was outgunned and outworked in every round before being razed to the ground by a huge right hook in the sixth.

Reflecting on that fight, Bundu gave his thoughts on what Brook can expect when he gets into the ring with the touted Texan.

“Spence is good technically and he’s powerful”, said Bundu. “He hits hard with every type of punch and is equally dangerous with his right and left. He always has you under pressure and you begin to feel the pace. The accumulation of his punches over the rounds wears you down. Then when he gets into range he’s very, very accurate [according to Compubox Spence landed a scary 63.9% of his power punches against Bundu]. The right hook that knocked me out landed perfectly on the chin.”

When asked what he would do differently if he fought Spence again, the 42-year old joked, “If I had to fight him again, I’d do it when I was ten years younger! Seriously, I’d be more careful. I’d still try and press but I’d be more cautious. I’d look to counter and take advantage of the openings he leaves.”

During our interview Bundu noted several times that Spence’s appetite for destruction makes him relatively hittable.

“He fights like he’s on a mission but when he attacks, he does leave himself open. I caught him flush several times – he can be hit.” In fact, the Compubox numbers show that Bundu landed with 51 punches (25.6% success rate) over almost six rounds compared to just 62 (19.5% success rate) over the full twelve against the fleeter Thurman.

He feels this could be a factor in Brook’s favour. “We saw against Shawn Porter that Brook can box carefully against an aggressive fighter yet still land his hard punches. Spence is a good boxer but he does take risks and this fight should tell us a lot about his chin.”

Bundu also feels that Brook might be helped by the Golovkin fight. Rather than being weakened by dropping back down to welterweight or apprehensive about the eye he damaged in that fight, Brook might now actually be further hardened by having stood up to a bigger fighter seen by many as the most devastating fighter in the sport. That clash also gave him valuable experience in how to deal with the pressure and scrutiny of a truly massive fight.

Overall, however, he finds it very hard to split the two fighters. “I see it as a fifty-fifty fight. They’re evenly-matched – they are both fresh, excellent boxers and dangerous punchers. I expect them to start slowly, cautiously, then try to impose themselves so I think the second half of the fight will be decisive. A key question of course will be how well they take each other’s power.”

A potential fight for the winner could be a unification with Thurman, a boxer Bundu rates as marginally better than Spence.

“Thurman surprised me in our fight. I was expecting more of a close quarters battle. I did get close to him in the first round but he knocked me down straight away! He’s got very good legs and he uses the ring really well. He wasn’t easy to hit at all. I would favour him over Spence. Thurman is almost complete – he can box very well, he’s a big puncher and he’s a little bit faster.  Spence is not slow by any means but I could see most of his punches. Thurman could be slightly disadvantaged if Spence was able to get into close range – I think Thurman works best at medium to long range, where he can get more speed and power on his punches. He’s got the style and power however to take advantage of Spence’s openings.”

Though Spence has the higher knockout percentage, albeit against a lower level of opposition, Bundu feels that Thurman is the purer puncher of the two.

“Although Spence knocked me out and I went twelve rounds with Thurman, I think Thurman is the bigger puncher. Spence is heavy-handed but Thurman has that snap. Clearly Spence can turn your lights out if he lands clean”, laughed Bundu, “But I felt shockwaves through my arms whenever I blocked Thurman’s punches. He’s definitely got more snap on his shots.”

Leonard Bundu

And how would Brook fare against Thurman?

“That would be a great fight, very technical. It’s hard to pick a winner in that one. They are both fast, hard punchers who seem to work best with a bit of distance. It might not be as exciting as a fight involving either of those two with Spence but any combination of these guys would be a marvellous fight – we’re talking about three fighters who are the best of the best in the division.”