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18 DECEMBER 2014

 

Cornelius Bundrage: "I Chose To Be A Leader"


Bundrage celebrates victory (pic David Martin Warr)
Bundrage celebrates victory (pic David Martin Warr)

By Derek Bonnett: The junior middleweight division looks as though it is about to shift. Right now, the 154 pound class lacks a clear leader that is a cut above the rest. The generation of Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and Paul Williams has its days numbered even though Cotto still has sufficient claim to the top spot. However, if that’s the case, then who can forget that the "world’s best 154 pounder" was soundly thrashed by, the world’s best welterweight, Manny Pacquiao or that prior to that fight he escaped twelve life and death rounds with Joshua Clottey? Have wins over a feather-fisted and injured Yuri Foreman and a faded Ricardo Mayorga truly set the record straight? Will a rematch win over Margarito prove what it might have a couple of years ago? Would a showdown with Williams even be desirable after Williams received a dubious decision over Erislandy Lara last time out? Maybe fight-fans will just have to wait for Saul Alvarez to knock these past elites off for good. Or maybe, just maybe, as Cornelius "K-9" Bundrage has asserted all along, "The last shall be first and the first shall be last."

It’s been an uphill battle for the IBF junior middleweight champion, who dethroned Cory Spinks just over a year ago and added his first title defense last month with a unanimous decision over Sechew Powell. From The Contender to actually becoming a contender, Bundrage has posted notable wins over Michael Clark, Kassim Ouma, and Zaurbek Baysangurov, but always seemed to run into a roadblock just as things started to look good as he did against Steve Forbes, Joel Julio, and Grady Brewer. However, at thirty-eight, "K-9" is an old dog that has been able to turn some pretty cool tricks.

"Some fighters improve after becoming world champion and some don’t because they settle for less," Bundrage stated. "I have improved not just because I’m a world champion, but because the stakes are higher. After I fought on The Contender, people trained hard for me like a world championship fight because of the opportunity. I’m better because I’m a world champion and I can’t be told any more lies. I want to keep my belt."

One of those tricks that exemplifies how set Bundrage is on keeping his distinction as world champion is his recent decision over Powell. Powell, a steady contender at 154, owned victories over Brewer, Ishe Smith, Deandre Latimore, and, most significant to this topic, Bundrage. In 2005, Powell and Bundrage produced a double knockdown in the opening seconds of their first fight before Powell closed the show to walk away the victor in one round on Showtime. That image, played again and again, haunted Bundrage, who knew he could do better.

"[Our rematch] was different because I was the champion of the world and he wasn’t. I’m a better fighter than last time; I wasn’t focused the last time," Bundrage explained. "The rematch meant a whole lot to me. It was a YouTube embarrassment, but now that I’ve beaten him, the first fight doesn’t mean anything. I’m the champ of the world."

While a loss will always remain on a fighter’s record, avenging one’s losses is a sure way to enhance a legacy and the way historians view a boxer’s career achievements down the line. Bundrage’s most recent defeat came in Providence, Rhode Island by split decision at the hands of his friend Brewer, who not only won the season two final of The Contender with a win over Forbes, but upset rising prospect Fernando Guerrero in his last outing. Brewer’s next assignment is the well-hyped Demetrius Andrade on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights. Could a win for Brewer set Bundrage up for another stab at redemption?

"[Brewer is] capable of beating anyone, because styles makes fights, but I don’t believe he should have taken this fight," Bundrage commented. "He just upset Guerrero and I wish him the best. In life, you have to be patient; one bad move can cost you. If it’s not a mandatory fight or a big money fight, I’m not interested in it. I’m not out for revenge or stupidity. It’s all about business. I have to take care of my family by making the right decisions."


Waiting around for the right fight, the big fight, or the most valuable fight sounds like a move that can be just as costly. Since 2008, when Bundrage fought thrice, he has competed only once in 2009, 2010, and thus far in 2011. Is this the right move for a fighter nearing forty?

"I will do what comes natural, and that’s to let the Holy Spirit lead me," Bundrage stated. "I’m in my prime at thirty-eight. I haven’t had many wars. I’m fresher than some fighters that’s in their 20’s. Whenever I get bored, I will take off the gloves. I will never become an opponent. I will retire from boxing; I won’t allow boxing to retire me. Age ain’t nothing but a number."
Then who are the names Bundrage is hoping for? Pawel Wolak? Cotto? Alvarez? Manny Pacquiao?

"I want to fight the best pound for pound and other world champions. Whoever it is in my way, and whoever GOD puts in front of me," Bundrage uttered. "I’m tired of saying names. These fighters nowadays want it easy. So, I’m waiting on GOD; HE knows what’s best for me and my family. It’s hard to be in a fight of the year, because I try to destroy my opponents and not get destroyed in the process. I can out box them, and out fight them. Just send the contract, and make sure it’s right."

Faith has played a major role in the life and career of Cornelius Bundrage and who can knock him for it? The man has overcome anonymity, disbelief, defeat, humiliation, and adversity to become a world boxing champion. Since beating Bundrage, Powell, Forbes, Julio, and Brewer have not been able to say this. HIS teachings have done for Bundrage just fine.

"Life can be entertaining. You can entertain the good or the bad, but just like a movie, the bad guy loses at the end. I woke up and learned from my past that you can’t fake it to make it. You can’t have one foot in the streets and one foot in church. You can’t love the world and love GOD. It’s one or the other. I chose to be a leader."

Right now, as unlikely as it seemed back in 2005, during The Contender, and in Providence, RI, Cornelius "K-9" Bundrage is a potential leader at 154 pounds.

August 17, 2011



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