Along with the likes of Terence Crawford and Jessie Vargas, Errol Spence is among the world’s best young boxers. But unlike those names, Spence is not a world champion.
The 26-year-old will take a step towards changing that on Sunday when he faces Leonard Bundu. The two will meet in Coney Island in an elimination fight that will determine the No.1 contender to Kell Brook’s IBF welterweight championship.
Spence is considered a virtual lock to win, as he continues to prove he’s among the best fighters in the sport. In the four years since competing at the London Olympics, Spence has compiled a perfect 20-0 record, most recently knocking out Chris Algieri in the fifth round of their April 16 fight. Spence did what neither Manny Pacquiao nor Amir Khan could do, as Algieri was able to survive 12 rounds against both welterweights.
The betting odds reflect the notion that it will be a one-sided fight. Bovada.lv lists Spence as a -10000 favorite, and Bundu has +1600 odds to pull off the upset.
"People ask if I'm nervous about headlining big fights, but I've already fought on the biggest stage you can fight on at the Olympics," Spence said, via ESPN.com. "I was fighting in front of the whole world, and it got me ready for where I'm at today."
Sunday’s bout could very well end up being a de facto title fight. Brook is moving up to middleweight to face Gennady Golovkin on Sept. 10, and there’s no telling whether or not he will return to the 147-pound division to defend his belt. If he does not, this weekend’s winner will become the vacant title-holder.
Bundu knows what he’s up against. The Italian fighter is 33-1-2, and he lost a unanimous decision to Keith Thurman less than two years ago. Thurman is arguably a top-10 pound-for-pound fighter, and Spence is the only one of Bundu’s opponents that comes close to that type of competition.
“Is Spence the best I’ve fought on paper? (IBF welterweight titlist Keith) Thurman was very, very good. But maybe, from what I’ve seen of Spence, he is more…looking to finish,” Bundu told Ring TV. “Thurman looked very good winning against (Shawn) Porter. But I’m good.”
Of Spence’s 20 wins, 17 have come by knockout, and his last seven bouts have all ended in the eighth round or earlier. There’s little reason to believe that streak won’t be extended to eight.
The Premier Boxing Champions fight will be broadcast immediately following Sunday’s Olympic basketball gold medal game.
Start Time: 5 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Online Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Prediction: Spence by early-round TKO