Bundu, who turned 39 last November, turned pro in 2005 at the rather advanced age of 31 following a strong amateur pedigree that saw him have (what he estimates as) 140 bouts. During this time, he fought in several high-profile tournaments.
When asked of his goals for 2014, the diminutive southpaw, who originally hails from Sierra Leone in West Africa, would simply say, “Get a world title shot.”
Bundu’s aware that though he’d like to test his skills against Floyd Mayweather Jr. like anyone else campaigning from 140 up to 154, that’s just not feasible at this time. “Sure, I’d like to fight the big names like Floyd and the rest but a fight with Shawn Porter would be something more realistic at the moment.”
Currently, Bundu, 30-0-2 (11), is taking time off and relaxing while assessing his next move. At welterweight, he’s currently ranked number six by the WBC and three by the IBF.
Anson Wainwright - You stopped Lee Purdy in London to retain your European welterweight title. Can you tell us about that fight?
Leonard Bundu - I had been waiting several months for a fight to come up, so when I was offered this fight, I accepted instantly even though it was risky going into foreign territory to defend my title. It was a very tough fight because Purdy was physically very strong and had very big support from the crowd. I knew I had to use my experience and outbox him to get the win. After the initial rounds, I put my skills into play.
AW - Going into the final round, you were ahead on the scorecards, though of course, you’d have not known that. Did you look for the stoppage to make sure?
LB - I knew I was ahead on the scorecards but when fighting abroad, it’s always best to win in an unquestionable manner. I tried to finish off well and eventually when I saw he was wearing down, I tried to finish him.
AW - Despite being unbeaten in 32 bouts and having made five successful defences of your European title, do you feel you’ve not got the attention you deserve? What do you feel you need to do to get that attention?
LB - Boxing in Italy is not a well-followed sport. We get little visibility and even when we get aired on TV, it would probably be in the later hours and thus get less attention. There are some good fighters here but we are not known outside the country and thus get cut out from the mainstream. Maybe a fight like the last got me a little visibility and I certainly needed more fights where it counts. I really feel I have reached the point where I deserve a world-class fight. I hope I’ll get a chance in the near future.
AW - What are your goals for 2014?
LB - Get a world title shot.
AW - You’re originally from Sierra Leone. Can you tell us about your early years growing up?
LB - I was born and raised in Sierra Leone till the age of 16. I had quite a “lively” life there and walking the streets of Freetown (the capital) got me in lots of physical activity, a form of pre-boxing school (smiles).
AW - How did you come to move to Italy?
LB - My mother’s from Italy, so when things in Sierra Leone started to get rough, i.e. the war, I moved to Italy to start a new life where I started boxing.
AW - How did you first become interested in boxing?
LB - I was always attracted to a contact sport, so it just happened that near where I lived was a boxing gym. I went there also to get to make new friends as I had just moved and didn’t know anyone.
AW - As an amateur, you were highly decorated. You fought at the 2000 Olympics in Australia and beat former IBF middleweight champion Daniel Geale. You also fought at the 1997 World Championships and again at the 1999 Worlds in Houston where you won bronze. Could you tell us about those tournaments and how they helped develop you as a fighter?
LB - I practiced boxing because it was just some sort of hobby in which I was good at plus I liked it. I never thought of making a career out of it. Fighting in these important tournaments and getting recognition from them certainly helped me develop confidence in myself and led me to think of boxing as a profession. Back then at the Olympics, beating Daniel Geale was not much of a fuss but getting to know who he is now certainly makes me think proud of myself now (smiles).
AW - What would you say about your amateur career? What was your final record?
LB - Well I had about 140 bouts and I wasted a lot of time in the amateurs. I turned pro rather late, age 31, but like I said before, it was just something I had fun with and I didn’t have the right mentality because I was young and thinking just of having fun and partying all day. But I’m glad about all the years spent in the amateurs; it surely helped me become what I am today.
AW - The welterweight division is packed with talent. What are your thoughts on the division? Are you targeting anyone in particular?
LB - Oh yeah, my weight class is really full of talent. Sure I’d like to fight the big names like Floyd and the rest but a fight with Shawn Porter would be something more realistic at the moment. But guys like Kell Brook, Amir Khan, etc., I’ll be willing to fight all immediately.
AW - Tell us about your life away from boxing. What do you enjoy doing?
LB - I’m a family man. I love travelling and exploring new places with my wife and two kids. I like cooking and eating as well (smiles). That’s about it, family, friends and travelling.
AW – Lastly, do you have a message for the welterweight division?
LB - I think I can put on a good show and I can compete with the top fighters of my class. Sooner or later, I’ll get you all to know my name.
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