By Keith Idec
There is plenty at stake Sunday for Errol Spence Jr.
If the 2012 Olympian defeats Leonard Bundu, he’ll become the mandatory challenger for the IBF welterweight title, currently owned by England’s Kell Brook. The unbeaten southpaw from DeSoto, Texas, also will headline a national broadcast that’ll immediately follow NBC’s telecast of the gold-medal men’s basketball game from the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 p.m. PT).
That game is likely to include a United States squad full of NBA All-Stars, thus Spence (20-0, 17 KOs) couldn’t ask for a stronger television lead-in for his 12-round “Premier Boxing Champions” main event inside Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn (NBC; 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT). That’s what makes winning his 21st professional fight in fantastic fashion, similar to the way he demolished Chris Algieri (21-3, 8 KOs) four months ago, so important to the emerging knockout artist’s fast-expanding brand.
“I’m a rising star and I want to look spectacular against him and get a knockout, [but] the main goal is to win,” Spence said during a recent conference call. “That’s what I’m looking for. I’m not going to look for the knockout. If I can’t get the knockout, if it doesn’t just come naturally, then I’ll take the win. But that’s the main goal overall, to win.”
The 26-year-old Spence has knocked out 85 percent of his professional opponents, but Bundu (33-1-2, 12 KOs) hasn’t been knocked out during his 11-year pro career.
“I mean, of course I would want the knockout,” said Spence, who stopped Algieri in the fifth round April 16 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. “But with me, I just look for, you know, a spectacular performance. It’s like walk them down or go for the knockout. You know, hopefully I get the knockout.”
The 41-year-old Bundu’s lone loss was a completely one-sided, 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to WBA world welterweight champion Keith Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) in December 2014.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.