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.
It’s been an interesting week for British boxing, albeit mainly outside the ring. In the confusion and smoke the biggest victor appears to be Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport, who signed the talented 168lbs prospect/contender George Groves. But at the end of the day, much like trash talk before a big bout, it doesn’t really matter who wins outside the ring… it’s what happens inside that matters. And with three of Matchoom’s stars in action… including Groves… the week could have ended on a sour note if any of them lost.
The Main Event saw Darren Barker continue his return from injury against veteran Italian contender Simone Rotolo. Barker’s career has been blighted by injury, fighting only once in 2010, then having virtually a year off and then having another year out following his loss to Sergio Martinez. He came back with a crushing performance over former European champ Kerry Hope (although you can see what I thought of his European title win here). This bout, so swiftly on the heels of the last, was a chance for Barker to get the sort of consistency that only regular ring work can get you in addition to putting him against a solid European level operator. Rotolo has never been world class and at 37 is clearly coming to the end but he’s had nearly 40 bouts and hadn’t lost in over five years.