At this time four years ago, Errol Spence Jr. was preparing for a trip to London to compete in the Olympics. A month from now, Spence will be competing in a world title eliminator at the close of this year's Olympics.
Having finally reached the doorstep of accomplishing a lifelong goal, Errol Spence Jr. (20-0, 17 KOs) will battle Italian contender Leonard Bundu (33-1-2, 12 KOs) on August 21 in a 147-pound title eliminator (5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT).
The 12-round bout will follow NBC’s coverage of the Olympic gold medal men’s basketball game, and will be the first boxing event held in the new Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, New York.
The fight with Bundu represents Spence’s second consecutive headlining opportunity on NBC, following his spectacular fifth-round stoppage of former champion Chris Algieri on April 16, also in Brooklyn.
“Headlining a major event four years after my Olympic run is exciting,” said Spence, 26. “Bundu is an older fighter, but he’s tough and has a lot of experience. He fought well against [147-pound champion] Keith Thurman. Thurman outboxed him, but couldn’t knock him out.
“I think I can make a big statement in the division if I can stop him, as I did with Chris Algieri.”
Spence has been making nothing but big statements since debuting as a professional in November 2012. The southpaw from Desoto, Texas, owns 17 knockouts—including an active streak of seven in a row—and three completely lopsided unanimous decisions.
Algieri was the most recent opponent to feel Spence’s power, as he was dropped three times, including twice in the opening minute of the fifth and final round. That gave Spence his 16th stoppage win inside of five rounds.
The only fighter to last more than eight rounds against Spence was Ronald Cruz, who lost a 10-round unanimous decision in shutout fashion in June 2014.
Now it’s Bundu’s turn to try to solve Spence.
A native of Sierra Leone now living in Toscana, Italy, Bundu has been fighting professionally for more than 11 years, with his only blemish coming against Thurman in December 2014. In that contest—his only world title fight—Bundu rose from a first-round knockdown and became just the third man to take Thurman the distance.
Unfortunately for Bundu, a two-time European champion, that was his only highlight that night, as he lost all 12 rounds on all three scorecards.
He’s since rebounded with a pair of victories over Pablo Munguia (unanimous decision in June 2015) and Jussi Koivula (ninth-round TKO in April). But neither of those opponents—in fact, none Bundu faced other than Thurman—are as gifted as Spence, who will have 15 years of youth on his side against the 41-year-old Italian.
However, Bundu is confident his experience will be the difference against Spence. If he's correct, he'll earn his second world title shot, as the winner will become the mandatory challenger for the 147-pound championship currently held by England’s Kell Brook.
“When I fought Thurman I ended up being overcautious, but that will not be the case this time,” said Bundu, who is three inches shorter than the 5-foot-9½ Spence. “I know it’s now or never for me, and I won’t let this chance slip away.
“Spence will come forward, but that will work to my advantage because I love fighting on the inside. I’m going to show Spence a few things that he hasn’t seen before.”
For a complete look at Spence vs Bundu, visit our fight page.