American knockout merchant Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman matches up against the current reigning European and Commonwealth champion Leonard Bundu at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, USA, on December 13th with the Interim WBA World Welterweight title on the line.
Keith Thurman has developed one of the fiercest reputations in the sport after having knocked out 21 of 23 opponents with nine first round stoppages to his name. Thurman has recently been disposing of world level fringe contenders in the likes of Diego Chavez, Jesus Soto Karass and Julio Diaz in good fashion, demonstrating an abundance of natural athleticism and dynamite power. He is one of the most highly regarded prospects in the Welterweight division and now looks to be ready to take another step up and fight one of the world’s elite fighters for a world title. To say there hasn’t been a surplus of fighters calling him out would certainly be an understatement. He may have grown a killer reputation with the wider boxing fraternity but the reality is that Thurman doesn’t possess a world title so there is high risk and little attraction to taking on such a dangerous power puncher for his divisional rivals who unsurprisingly have been accused of avoiding him.
It is not a given that the 26 year-old rising star from Clearwater, Florida will have it all plain sailing though. After predominantly building his professional career in his home country of Italy, Bundu’s emergence onto the American scene comes via England where in his last two fights he knocked out Lee Purdy in the 12th round in defence of his European title then more notably beat one of Britain’s rising prospects in the unbeaten (19-0) Frankie Gavin to claim his Commonwealth and European title belts. Frankie Gavin has a great boxing pedigree; a former amateur world champion he is a very well-schooled operator that had been touted to go on to world level. However Bundu fought valiantly and won a split decision victory in a close fight, knocking down Gavin in the sixth with a ripping shot to the ribs of the British Champion at the Civic Hall, Wolverhampton UK.
Bundu ‘The Lion’ is rock hard and built as tough as they come. Originally hailing from Freetown, Sierra Leone, the Italian champion has overcome many personal adversities and at 39 years old is willing to seize any opportunity that comes his way. His first exposure in the US could be his last big shot at glory on this level so he will be right up for it.
He likes to fight on the front foot and pressurise his opponents and whilst naturally operating out of an orthodox stance Bundu is a switch hitter which may be something Thurman will have to figure out during the course of the fight. Bundu insists he is not a sacrificial lamb and that he will come to fight. Anyone who has seen him fight knows that he has bullish strength and will give his best effort. Whether that will be enough surely looks unlikely and you’ll struggle to find anyone picking out the upset for this contest. Thurman could be underestimating Bundu but that’s not to say he shouldn’t come through the contest with a victory.
Despite showing good boxing skills in spells there is rawness and crudeness to Thurman’s style which needs refining before he can think about tackling the likes of Mayweather but Bundu will be there for him to hit being a forward, all action fighter. Thurman shouldn’t have problems finding the target with both height and reach advantages and if he can get rid of Bundu quickly that would be an extremely impressive feat against a durable man who has never been knocked out or down to the canvas in his professional career.
I would expect this fight to last longer than many might expect. Ultimately though if Thurman has any chance of beating Mayweather or Pacquiao or even IBF champion Kell Brook he will be able to pull off the victory against Bundu.
THURMAN: W23 KO21 L0 KO%87.5
BUNDU: W31 KO11 L0 D2 KO%33.33