“[Keith Thurman] is a promising prospect, with proven skills and power – he’s got it all… he has everything needed to become a real world champion.”
Those are the words of crafty welterweight Leonard Bundu, a veteran of 39-years-old, 31 fights and 207 rounds. He is also a fighter who, like his December 13 opponent, is unbeaten.
Bundu has clawed his way to the head of the 147-pound division the hard way. He campaigned exclusively in Italy until 2013 picking up national titles and the EBU welterweight belt, before being invited over to Britain to defend his European honours against Lee Purdy, whom he stopped in the 12th round after dropping the younger man with a right blow to the brain-case.
The performance had such an impact that the Italian boxed once more in Britain. This time against the country’s only gold medalist at the World Amateur Championships – Frankie Gavin. Again, Bundu upset the odds as he eked out a split decision nod over the Birmingham boxer, who was left knocked down and cut up.
Bundu is now 2-0 up against British fighters and the wins generated a good deal of international noise as The Lion features prominently on the MGM Grand, Las Vegas bill next month, as he collides with Thurman and shares the bill with Amir Khan and Devon Alexander.
“It will be a good fight, a great fight, but I can’t afford to stand and trade with him,” Bundu said to Boxing News, in a clear acknowledgment of the might in Thurman’s mitts.
The American, at 25, is 14 years Bundu’s junior and has pummeled his way through the fringes of the weight class, stopping all but two of his 23 opponents.
Bundu will not risk embroiling himself in warfare with One Time: “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,” he said, breaking down the fight.
“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 try not to get hit too much when I fight him.”
Bundu is a part of one of the most competitive weight-classes and is looking forward to the Macao showdown on Saturday between Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao and WBO welterweight title challenger Chris Algieri.
Bundu “loves” Pacman and foresees an early finish for the southpaw: “I go with Manny Pacquiao. He’s a top guy of course, who I really love. I think he will get the fight over with [this weekend]. I saw Algieri’s win over [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.”
With another underdog triumph next month, this time over Thurman, Bundu would break into all of the top ten rankings and could even have an outside chance of gaining a shot at one of the division’s elite-level competitors. And he would welcome a challenge from Pacquiao.
“Oh boy, of course [I would fight Pacquiao]! I want everybody.”
But who is the best?
“The very best is Floyd Mayweather – he is the perfect example of what boxing should be.”