Welterweight contender Errol Spence Jr. said during the buildup to his world title elimination fight against Leonard Bundu that he did not want to just win. He said he also wanted to win impressively and to do so by knockout.
Check, check and check.
Spence violently knocked out Bundu in the sixth round on Sunday before 3,723 in the main event of the first sporting event held at the new Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, New York.
"I was going for the knockout," Spence said. "I was fighting on NBC and I wanted to put on a great performance in front of these beautiful fans.
"I thought my performance was great. I was shaky in the first and second rounds but was able to get into a rhythm the rest of the fight. Once I was able to catch his rhythm and break him down, I knew I had him."
Count Bundu as one of those who was impressed by Spence.
"He certainly lives up to the hype," Bundu said. "He looked fresh in every round. He was really good [and] remained in control."
The win, in the Premier Boxing Champions match in the prime NBC-televised slot immediately following the United States' victory over Serbia in the men's basketball gold-medal game at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, earned Spence a mandatory shot at the 147-pound world title held by England's Kell Brook.
Spence (21-0, 18 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian and the 2015 ESPN.com prospect of the year, won every round on all three judges' scorecards but took a couple of rounds to really get going before finishing Bundu in devastating fashion.
Spence, a 26-year-old southpaw from the Dallas suburb of Desoto, Texas, took control with his right jab and also pounded Bundu with a body attack.
Bundu (33-2-2, 12 KOs), a 41-year-old 2000 Olympian from Italy and the reigning European welterweight champion, was aggressive but had little success landing anything of consequence.
Spence's first big shot landed in the fourth round when he knocked out Bundu's mouthpiece.
"He's awkward. He's very awkward, and he came out switching [from right-handed to left-handed] and it took me a little of time to get it together," Spence said. "But when I got it together and I started using my jab and started feeling him out, I was able to break him down and knock him out."
Bundu continued to take punishment in the fifth round, and in the sixth round Spence unleashed a nasty left uppercut that caught him flush on the chin and dropped him. Referee Johnny Callas was positioned behind Bundu and missed the call. He appeared to believe Bundu had slipped. Callas waved his arms and shouted "no knockdown" even though Bundu was visibly hurt.
When the fight resumed, Spence attacked Bundu again and landed another clean left uppercut followed by a right hand to the chin, knocking Bundu out as Callas waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 6 seconds as a limp Bundu laid on his back, half in the ring and half on the ring apron under the bottom rope.
"That's what you want. That's what you look for," Spence said of the knockout. "That's what I want to do every time I come to the ring."
After the knockout, Spence marched around the ring making motions with his hands as though he was strapping a title belt around his waist.
Whether Spence's world title fight comes against Brook (36-0, 25 KOs) or somebody else for the vacant title remains to be seen. Brook is moving up two weight classes for the opportunity to challenge unified middleweight world titleholder Gennady Golovkin on Sept. 10 in London. Should Brook lose, and he is a heavy underdog, he could return to welterweight and defend the title against Spence. However, Brook has a difficult time making 147 pounds and few believe he will ever return to the weight division, regardless of the outcome against Golovkin.
"I want a shot at Kell Brook as soon as he's done with GGG," said Spence, whose purse was $250,000 to Bundu's $30,000. "If he's not going to fight me, he needs to vacate and I'll fight somebody else. But I definitely want that IBF title shot this year."
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Spence landed 137 of 388 blows (35 percent) and Bundu connected on 51 of 201 (25 percent).
Bundu came into the fight having won two in a row following his only previous loss, a shutout decision against Keith Thurman for an interim world title in December 2014 in Las Vegas.
"Errol was more precise than Keith Thurman," Bundu said. "With Keith, every shot is a power punch. You feel them. Errol threw more, but they didn't all hurt."
The knockout shot sure did, though.
"I really tried to get up and I couldn't," Bundu said. "I am OK, though. I feel good."
The knockout was Spence's eighth in a row and second spectacular one in a row, coming four months after he destroyed former junior welterweight world titleholder Chris Algieri, whom he knocked down three times en route to a fifth-round knockout, also in Brooklyn and on NBC in prime time. The knockout of Bundu was just as impressive.
"I am one of the top fighters at 147 pounds," Spence said. "With this performance, I proved that again today."