In what on paper was meant to be a relatively soft comeback following being outclassed by then IBF title holder Devon Alexander, Essex brawler Lee Purdy instead found himself beaten up and then stopped by the unheralded Leonard Bundu in a bout that was as much a fight as a boxing match.
Bundu may have been the owner of a pretty 29-0 record and the holder of the European belt, but the 41 year old had barely boxed outside Italy previously and had faced a pretty limited selection of opposition. A younger, fresher Purdy boxing at home was expected to be able to overpower him. Instead, Bundu was simply the better man throughout. The bout was an entertaining, engaging war where both men could be proud of their efforts with Purdy pressing forwards relentlessly to confront Bundu who was trying to keep the battle at range. The issue was that even when he did manage to get to the inside, Bundu still had the edge, landing impressive combinations and cutting Purdy open. As the bout wore on Purdy became wilder and wilder while Bundu’s seemed to become more and more powerful and in the 12th he knocked Purdy down with a right and then swarmed him with follow up punches to earn a deserved stoppage.
This is a disappointing loss for the Colchester man but is a pretty accurate reflection of where his career stands. Having come to boxing late and barely had an amateur career Purdy has always been crude but with the potential to improve. Yet at 26 he’s largely the same brawler he’s always been. He’s got enough natural talent to be an entertaining domestic champion and occasional European contender but I can’t see him ever going above that level. As for Bundu this was a good performance from a boxer little known outside of his adopted home of Italy but at 41 it’s hard to see him ever really pushing on to compete with the best in a reinvigorated 147lbs division. Considering how entertaining the bout was to watch and the limited opportunities going forward for both men, a rematch seems to be a good option for both.
Much of the undercard followed a fairly simple pattern, with (somewhat) well regarded British boxers have keep busy/comeback bouts against overmatched opposition. Perhaps the most entertaining was watching former title challenger Kevin Mitchell stopping European gatekeeper Karim El Ouazghari in nine. The popular Mitchell was simply a better class than Ouazghari, spearing him with the jab, slipping his offence and hammering in combinations and right hands. To his credit the Spainard (who was brought in on late notice) was relentless coming forward and did manage to buzz Mitchell with a few wild right hands but it was hard to give him a round. The finish itself was a bit of a mess, with Ouzaghari complaining to the referee about a seeming injury to his bicep when Mitchell dropped him but it doesn’t really change what had happened previously. It was a good performance by Mitchell but it the was the sort of performance he’s always been able to do against the sort of opponent he’s always been able to beat. Mitchell’s problem has been when asked to take the step up from looking good against limited opposition to facing world class opponents and while this bout does help to show that his one-sided knockout loss to Ricky Burns didn’t end him as a boxer it does nothing to show he’d be more competative in the future.
Martin Murray looked distinctly underwhelming in earning a workmanlike decision over Sergey Khomitsky. This was actually a rematch of a 2009 bout and it was perhaps an indicator of quite how off the boil Murray was that this bout was closer than the original. Weakened by a virus that put his training on hold Murray was slow and sloppy to begin with and while he eventually came back into the bout and showed a few flashes of his ability to pick up the narrow but deserved win he’s got to hope this was a one-off poor performance rather than a sign of a deeper malaise. The Murray who got in the ring against Khomitsky was a far cry from the Murray we’ve seen in recent times.
Continuing that theme, Jamie McDonnell was distinctly workmanlike in earning a close decision over the unheralded Abigail Medina. The former IBF bantamweight title holder (who never lost the belt in the ring) was made to work by the Spanish based Dominican and while he did just enough to get a win it wasn’t the sort of performance you’d expect from a supposed title holder. Much like Murray, if McDonnell wishes to find success at world level he will need much better performances than this.
Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo outclassed professional opponent Dan Blackwell without ever really getting out of second gear. Injuries haven’t helped by Ogogo’s 25 and has only had four bouts; he probably needs to start stepping up his opposition fairly soon. British domestic champion Paul Smith beat designated opponent Jamie Ambler in a bout more interesting because Paul Smith is a boxer normally associated with Frank Warren and hear he was on a Matchroom card. Prospects Khalid Yafai and Wadi Camacho also picked up wins as they look to develop their careers.