In his victory last night over Leonard Bundu, Errol Spence Jr takes one step closer toward a world tile shot.
The bout started with Bundu on the march forward and Spence throwing combinations, hitting Bundu’s guard. The Sierra Leone native now fighting out of Italy, tried to put pressure on the young and talented star but it immediately became apparent the gulf of difference that existed between the pair.
Bundu, a predominantly European level fighter, briefly had a foray onto the world stage in a bout vs Keith Thurman who beat him via unanimous decision. At a ripe 41 years of age, Bundu is marketed as a “late bloomer” in the sport, who’s dedication to his body and training keeps him able to compete effectively – commentators neglecting to write on set of narrow boxing skills, limited to front foot pressure and a marauding style.
It cannot possibly be a surprise then to see Spence, box behind a jab consistently, leaving his unimaginative opponent to switching stances and throwing optimistic leather in hopes of magically unlocking the key to the front door of his opponent. His rough, bull-headed tactics did not fare him well to begin the bout, but occasionally the volume of his work in spots found a home. For his part, Spence Jr maintained his poise, continued to box behind his jab letting the marauder march forward onto his punches.
The shorter, slower, Bundu had little choice. Either he gave chase and tried to close the distance set in place by Spence’s jab, inevitably leading him onto receiving punches, or he would try to be classier and counter the leads thrown by former U.S Olympian to little effect. At times when Spence elected to hold his feet inside the pocket of his opponent, Bundu let his gloves go but rarely found the mark cleanly.
The third began with Bundu charging forward behind a barrage of body blows. Spence momentarily stationary, quickly re-applied distance with his jab and slowed the action back down. The odd looping hooks of Bundu caught the guard of Spence who sensing he was falling into the trap of showing too much respect to his brutish opponent, began forcing his way into a toe to toe battle with Bundu at short range. The correct tactics here now employed, forced Bundu onto the rear foot, his defensive attributes not negating the attacks of Spence who landed with several good punches to the midriff of his man.
The jab of Spence never failing to land when thrown with conviction fostered greater confidence in Spence as he pushed his opponent back. Bundu, adept at hitting a heavy bag, tried throwing punches at Spence but more often than not landed on the fast moving guard of the American or missed completely hitting only thin air left in Errol’s wake.
By the fifth round, Spence had not seriously managed to hurt his opponent, and had instead boxed with care, unwilling almost to meet the charge of Bundu with fire. However, this changed at the start of the round as he backed up the well-matured fighter onto the ropes, and began to let rip with a volley of body shots. Bundu retreating with his exemplary ring craft into a corner, found himself on the receiving end of straight shots by Spence who after landing cleanly applied the brakes and allowed his opponent forward yet again.
A lapse in concentration by Spence permitted Bundu his best success of the bout so far, landing two thudding punches that swayed Spence to the side. Working back behind the solace of his jab, Spence walked his opponent to the ropes before landing a thunderous left uppercut onto the chin of Bundu that dropped him for his first count.
Staggering to his feet and with the action resumed, Spence pounced on Bundu throwing a combination, who fought back in kind trying to fend off Errol’s pressure. His instincts over-riding his disciplined game plan and leading him onto the final path of the bout, Spence unloaded a series of hard clubbing hooks that pummelled the head of Bundu, who collapsed onto the canvas and backwards through the ropes, the referee jumping to wave off the uneven bout.
A nice knock out stoppage to add to his collection, against an over-matched opponent on the wrong side of forty, who could not come up with an answer for the former Olympian.
What can be gleaned of Spence from this bout? Not much besides he has a solid jab that he is willing to work behind with patience, and the power to stop his opponent when he has him hurt. He has done one better than WBA Welterweight champion Keith Thurman with the stoppage, but proceeding to judge them against an opponent such as Bundu only leaves the question of who is the better welterweight moot.
Victory in this bout has earned him a shot against IBF Welterweight Champion Kell Brook who faces Gennady Golovkin on September 10th. The orthodox boxer vs southpaw boxer will lead to an intriguing matchup if it happens down the line.
Both fighters have quick hands, accurate punches and it will largely come down to who can assert their will upon the other. If the fight is fought on British soil, the edge would have to be given to Kell, the current IBF Welterweight champion.
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