Over the past year, few fighters have excited the American boxing public more than Errol Spence Jr. The 2012 Olympian has shown an impressive combination of technical skill and ring intelligence. Now 20-0 with 17 KOs, most observers now view him as future world champion and likely pound-for-pound contender.
His true breakout performance came last April, when he absolutely demolished former WBO super lightweight belt holder Chris Algieri in just five rounds. Algieri might not be an elite fighter, but he is a respectable contender.
Algieri claimed his WBO strap by coming back from two first round knockdowns to out-box Ruslan Provodnikov, with one eye swollen shut. He fought a very tough and competitive bout against top contender Amir Khan. The Huntington, New York native was thoroughly routed by Manny Pacquiao in China, in November 2014, getting knocked down six times. Just the same, Algieri made it to the final bell against Pacquiao.
Against Spence, Algieri was a lamb led to slaughter. Spence targeted the body early and brutalized Algieri’s torso, limiting his ability to move. He dropped him hard in Round 4. In Round 5, Spence finished the show, sending Algieri to the canvas twice in the frame’s opening minute, forcing referee Benny Esteves Jr. to call a halt to the action after 48 seconds.
The performance does not necessarily “prove” that Spence would beat Pacquiao, or even Khan. But it pretty noteworthy that Spence beat Algieri in a far more dominating fashion than the two veteran stars were able to.
Spence has still yet to face a truly elite talent, and he will not be doing so this weekend when he squares off against Italian contender Leonard Bundu. At 41, Bundu has lost just once in his career, to Keith Thurman in December 2014. Once again, Spence has an opportunity to look good in comparison.
Thurman is the current WBA welterweight champion, coming off from an outstanding win over Shawn Porter. He knocked Bundu down and won every round on all three cards, but Bundu’s awkward and eratic rhythm threw Thurman’s timing off and prevented him from unleashing his typical offense.
If Spence can do a better job of decoding Bundu, it will be another big line on his resume.