Errol Spence Jr. has gotten into the habit of delivering dramatic and devastating knockouts. So the fact the 147-pound contender obliterated veteran title challenger Leonard Bundu on Sunday with a vicious sixth-round right hook wasn’t exactly shocking.
The reaction from some of boxing’s biggest names to both Spence’s performance—which was a ratings blockbuster on NBC—and his standing in one of the sport’s most stacked divisions? That’s another story.
Virgil Hunter, who trains undefeated 175-pound star Andre Ward, raved about Spence’s “IQ and versatile intensity.”
Abel Sanchez, the cornerman for unbeaten 160-pound knockout king Gennady Golovkin, called the southpaw “the next great welterweight.”
And two-division title winner Paulie Malignaggi praised Spence for delivering a “statement KO,” while ESPN’s analyst and legendary trainer Teddy Atlas said the talented Texan has “no technical deficiencies.”
Errol Spence Jr. (21-0, 18 KOs) became the second fighter to defeat Leonard Bundu (32-2-2, 13 KOs) and the first to knock him out, doing so before 3,723 at Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, New York. Spence also scored big with television viewers on NBC, as his eighth consecutive stoppage victory—all of which have occurred inside of eight rounds—was the highest-rated Premier Boxing Champions bout to date.
The telecast, which immediately followed the U.S. men’s basketball team’s gold medal-winning victory over Serbia on the final day of the Rio Olympics, averaged 4.8 million viewers, with a peak of more than 6.3 million. That makes it the biggest television audience for boxing in 18 years.
"I knew this would be the most important fight of my career, and the goal was to not just win, but to put on a spectacular, one-sided performance," Spence said. "It felt good to go out there and give everyone watching a great show, and to do it in front of such a large television audience makes it even better."
The millions who tuned in saw Spence admittedly struggle early to figure out the switch-hitting Bundu. But once he solved the puzzle, the 26-year-old from Desoto, Texas, put on a masterful performance, finishing things off with a pair of head-swiveling knockdowns—the first off a short left uppercut and the second the result of a pinpoint right hook to the jaw.
Spence’s ability to dissect Bundu greatly impressed Hunter.
"Spence said, ‘I’m burglarizing your house not through the front door, but picking locks and entering windows,’” Hunter said. “‘I may absorb some punches coming at you, but my body shots will soften you up before I blast you out.’”
“ Spence isn’t yet a Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao in a promotional sense ... but I don't think anyone in the welterweight division is in a hurry to fight him. ” Teddy Atlas, longtime trainer and ESPN analyst
Bundu, a 41-year-old from Italy, was two fights removed from a 12-round shutout loss to undefeated 147-pound champion Keith Thurman in December 2014. He insisted before the fight that he would give a stronger showing against Spence, but instead, the opposite happened.
“It was a calculated, poised balance of patience, intelligence and killer instinct,” said Malignaggi, who is a regular ringside analyst for Showtime and PBC broadcasts. “As for [being a top] pound-for-pound fighter, Spence has that ability and talent.”
No less an authority than Atlas—who has trained the likes of current and former champions Timothy Bradley, Alexander Povetkin and Michael Moorer—concurs.
“Errol Spence is big, strong and athletic with speed and power in both hands,” he said. “He isn’t yet a Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao in a promotional sense ... but I don't think anyone in the welterweight division is in a hurry to fight him. He has so much talent.”
Spence has now handed six consecutive opponents their first stoppage loss. And by beating Bundu, he’s in position to challenge 147-pound champion Kell Brook (36-0, 25 KOs) of England. Brook is mandated to face Spence after he moves up to 160 to challenge Golovkin on September 10.
Whether Brook agrees to fight Spence or ends up vacating his title, this much is known: Nearly four years into his pro career, Errol Spence Jr. has earned his first shot at a world championship. And it’s unlikely to be his last.
“Errol truly believes he’s the division’s best by far,” said Derrick James, who trains Spence. “He just wants a chance to prove it by unifying the titles, starting with Kell Brook.”
Said Spence: "My time is now. This is just the beginning."
For a complete look back at Spence vs Bundu, be sure to visit our fight page.