By Lem Satterfield
Before achieving his championship status, IBF junior middleweight champion Cornelius Bundrage had to navigate a long, treacherous road prior that has been comprised of as many starts and stops as might a packed street during rush hour in his native Detroit, Mich.
Bundrage was 21-0, with 13 knockouts when he, himself, was stopped in the first round by Sechew Powell in May of 2005.
Over his next four bouts, however, Bundrage participated in Season II of the Contender Series and somewhat jump-started his career.
Bundrage scored five-round, majority, and, unanimous decisions, respectively, over Michael Clark and Walter Wright in on Jan. 17, and, Feb. 3, of 2006, only to be defeated on Feb. 10 by five-round unanimous decision against Steve Forbes, the eventual tournament runner-up to Grady Brewer.
Bundrage rebounded with the dogged determination exemplified by his "K9" nickname, with a seventh-round stoppage of Norberto Bravo in September's Contender series consolation finals.
Bundrage then won three straight, two by knockout, before, himself, being stopped in the eighth round by Joel Julio in July of 2007.
Bundrage reeled off two more wins, comprised of an October, 2007 fifth-round stoppage, and a March, 2008, 10-round, unanimous decision over southpaw former world champion, Kassim Ouma, owner of an August, 2006 unanimous decision over Powell.
In succession, Bundrage then endured a November, 2008 split-decision loss to Brewer, rebounded a month later with a fifth-round knockout of previously unbeaten Zaurbek Baysangurovm (19-1, 14 KOs), and was frustrated during a June, 2009, no-decision against Yuri Foreman (28-2, eight KOs), a man who won the WBA's crown in his next bout with a November, 2009, unanimous decision overDaniel Santos.
The 37-year-old Bundrage (30-4, 18 KOs) did the same, 14 months after the fight against Foreman, dethroning IBF titlist Cory Spinks (37-6, 11 KOs) by dominating him from the start to the finish of an August, 2010, fifth-round knockout battering before Spinks' hometown fans at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
Bundrage was trained for the fight by Emmanuel Steward, whose other fighter, Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs), dethroned Foreman as WBA junior middleweight champ by ninth-round stoppage in June of 2010, and who stopped ex-champion, Ricardo Mayorga (29-8-1, 23 KOs) in the 12th round on March 12.
In this Q&A with BoxingScene.com, Bundrage trying to make the most of his championship status by calling out the likes of Cotto, WBA middleweight "emeritus" champion, Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs), eight-division titlist, WBC junior middleweight champ, Saul Alvarez (36-0-1, 26 KOs), WBO welterweight belt-holder, Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs), unbeaten six-time titlist Floyd Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs), and, even former junior welterweight king Ricky Hatton (45-2, 32 KOs) or retired former multi-division champion, Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs).
BoxingScene.com: With all of this activity in the junior middleweight and middleweight divisions, where do you feel that you fit in?
Cornelius Bundrage: I'll tell you, but I have to find and be sure that you're not a member of Golden Boy Promotions who is trying to find out if I'm in shape or not. That's kind of the way that it's gone with me, you know? People want me to take fights on short notice if I'm not in shape to put me at a disadvantage.
So I have to make sure that you're not with Golden Boy or somebody else who is trying to get an easy fight, you know? That's what it seems like. They only want to fight K-9 on two or three weeks notice. Or two or three days or something like that. You know, because, during my career, I've been approached by a ton of people that way who try to do that to me.
BoxingScene.com: Is there a Golden Boy Promotions fighter that you would like to fight, like, maybe Saul Alvarez?
Cornelius Bundrage: I'm not saying that someone like Canelo [Saul] Alvarez is afraid of me, I'm just saying that I would love to glove up with him, because he's got the WBC belt. But he would be a really nice challenge at my weight.
BoxingScene.com: So who would you like to fight next?
Cornelius Bundrage: Well, I would like to fight Oscar. He's been saying that he wants to come out of retirement. I've got a friend, right, who is in the marine corps. And Oscar just did a tour oversees. My friend said that he saw Oscar, and that he had Oscar sign something that I was on and that had me calling Oscar out.
And he said that Oscar had called me out because I called me out. So, you know, yeah, I will call Oscar out. I'll call Oscar De La Hoya's fighters out. I actually talked to my promoter, Don King, and he actually let the dog off of the leash.
Don King told me to just go ahead and start calling people out, so that's why the dog, you know, that's why I'm barking.
BoxingScene.com: So, if you could pick who you wanted to fight, in order, who would the fighters be?
Cornelius Bundrage: I always want to fight the best. You know, money isn't an issue. I'm going to make money. I'm a world champion. I've got a few things that I have lined up business-wise.
So I'll be alright after I am finished boxing. I'll be doing okay, especially where I've come from. So I wouldn't mind fighting Floyd, or Sergio Martinez or Manny Pacquiao. They would be my ideal fights. I think that a fight with Floyd Mayweather would make sense because he hasn't fought in a long time and he might figure that he would have a good chance against me.
I know that they're already trying to set up the big fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, but, you know, Manny Pacquiao is already fighting Shane Mosley in May. So he might as well come and try to take the belt from K-9. That's a big fight. I've got a big following in the United
Kingdom, so if he wanted to do a big fight oversees, or over in Africa, that would be great. I think that he needs what he would consider to be a really good tuneup, and it would be easier for him to come back at 154 pounds as a junior middleweight.
And what better way to do it than to come back at 154 and face the dog, you know? Face the K-9.
BoxingScene.com: What about Sergio Martinez?
Cornelius Bundrage: Well, it seems like Sergio Martinez can never find someone who wants to fight him. He can never fight the right opponent that wants to fight him now. He just best a junior middleweight champion in [WBO titlist] Sergiy Dzinziruk, why not take the top junior middleweight fighter, K-9, who has the IBF, who is going to give you a real, serious fight.
I mean, everybody would tune in and they're going to see a real dog fight. So why not fight the dog. We can fight for my belt, or however he wants to do it. I would teach him how to speak English.
BoxingScene.com: Don King was the promoter of Ricardo Mayorga, whom he paired with promoter Bob Arum's Miguel Cotto for Cotto's 12th-round knockout of Mayorga. Do you have any hopes that Don King would pair you with Miguel Cotto?
Cornelius Bundrage: You know, listen, that made me so mad, you know? I was a mad dog. I was at the Mayorga fight and they're already talking about Cotto fighting Antonio Margarito. Margarito don't got a belt. He's lost his last fight. Why is he getting that title shot? How can you disrespect the IBF champion when you have a WBA champion and they could unify the belts?
They next time that I fight, we're going to put the Tupac Shakur song on that sings, 'All Eyes On Me,' because the K-9, the dog is in the house.
BoxingScene.com: How did you recover from the losses in your career?
Cornelius Bundrage: Every time that lost, I came back with bigger wins. Did nobody beat me and I stayed beat. God is responsible for me being where I am. I earned my way. I never had anybody put a fight in my pocket like it was an easy fight. I had to slip and fall to get where I'm at. But every time that I slipped and fell, I got back up.
I ran more miles, I did more push ups, I prayed more. I did everything that I had to do to get into my position. That's the best feeling in the world, to know that I've come back on my own. Now, I've got the best promoter in the world, Don King. I've got the best manager in the world, Manny steward. My trainer is Sugar Hill, Manny's nephew.
Don King has been my promoter for eight months after the Cory Spinks fight. Before that, I was with the promotional team of the Contender.
BoxingScene.com: What happened in the Yuri Foreman fight?
Cornelius Bundrage: I'm glad that you brought that up. I was the blueprint for setting up Miguel Cotto's win over Yuri Foreman. I felt like I was coming on in that fight. But then, Yuri Foreman pulled me into a clinch and as you noticed, he got a cut worse than me. I know that his corner told him that if it goes four rounds, then it's a fight, and it's going to end in a knockout for me.
So it wound up being a no-decision because he knew that I was catching up to him. He ran in with his head and I guess that he was trying to cut me, and it ended backfiring on me. So it went to a no-decision. But you know, he was just acting like he couldn't see. But, you know, I have the way to beat all of those guys.
They know it, and they don't want to fight me. If I beat Floyd, or if I beat Manny Pacquiao, then the networks lose a lot of money. So they're being really careful who they put me in there with because they know they don't want to lose money if those guys lose to me in a fight.
BoxingScene.com: What about the loss to Grady Brewer?
Cornelius Bundrage: That was a set up. How do I beat Kassim Ouma, and then lose to Grady Brewer. I took that fight on three weeks notice. The Contender was promoting me and Grady Brewer, and I hadn't fought in a long time. So they were telling me that I had to take that fight. Grady Brewer and I had become good friends.
But he won the Contender and hadn't fought in a long time. That was a hard fight to take, I couldn't get up for the fight. I wasn't comfortable with the situation at all.
BoxingScene.com: What about the Joel Julio fight?
Cornelius Bundrage: I wound up having to lose something like 37 pounds in three weeks to take that fight. I was eating a pizza when I got the call. I wasn't training. I wasn't in any kind of shape. I was at 187 and had to lose 37 pounds in three weeks. But the Cory Spinks fight did everything for my career. Cory Spinks' camp was ducking me because I wanted that fight badly.
It was a fight that was canceled three times, but it was my chance to show that I'm one of the best fighters in the world. Cory had been on the internet barking about what he was going to do to me, but I told him that he was going to go to his dressing room and that was going to be the last time that he held that belt.
Because I was in shape for that fight. I knew that was not going to be a night when I was going to lose. It was my time to shine. I was in the best shape of my life for that fight, mentally, spiritually and physically. He was sharp, he was prepared, he was ready, but I beat him in his own home town.
He was ready to fight Floyd and those guys, and Floyd was there in the front row with Don King, doing business. Man, that was my fight, my night, no matter what. I don't care who he was that day. He was in trouble. He could have been Muhammad Ali, and he was going to lose that night.
BoxingScene.com: Is there anyone else that you would consider fighting?
Cornelius Bundrage: If Ricky Hatton wants to come back, which he's talking about, I would now give him the opportunity to fight for the IBF junior middleweight title. I wouldn't mind going over there to England, whatever his home town is over there to defend my title. They way that they sing, 'There's only one Ricky Hatton,' you know, I'll have them singing, 'There's only one K-9.'