By Jackie Kallen
It’s been said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But can the old dog teach the puppy a few new tricks? The answer will be out front and center in Foxwoods this Saturday night when 40 year-old Cornelius “K9” Bundrage faces 25 year-old undefeated Jermall Charlo for the IBF Super Welterweight belt.
From Detroit, Bundrage has had an impressive and sometimes surprising career. With a record of 34-5, he was doing great until he ran into Sechew Powell in 2005. He got stopped in the first round, which effected not only his record, but his confidence.
He went on to be featured on “The Contender,” losing to Stevie Forbes. He then managed to rack up three wins before mixing it up with Joel Julio in 2007 and getting stopped in the 8th round. K9 got up, brushed himself off and went at it again, winning two more bouts before fighting Grady Brewer in 2008. He fought hard, but lost a split decision.
In 2010, the boxing world was pleasantly surprised when Bundrage stopped Cory Spinks in the 5th round at Fantasy Springs to win the IBF Super Welterweight belt. He was a world champion and proud to hold the title. He redeemed himself against Powell by beating him in 2011 and then gave Spinks a rematch, beating him again in 2012.
Things got shaky in February 2013 when a hometown fight against Ishe Smith in Detroit ended up with K9 losing his title. Bundrage took things in stride and sucked it up once again. He beat Joey Hernandez in January 2014 and went on to fight Carlos Molina in November 2014, reclaiming his IBF championship. Now, nearly a year later, he is taking on a hungry young turk. That’s the dog in Bundrage and one of the reasons they call him K9.
From Houston, this tall slugger has KOed 3/4 of his opponents. He has youth and strength on his side, but Bundrage has the edge when it comes to experience and level of opposition. The names on Charlo’s dance card are mostly tired ones like Norberto Gonzalez and Antwone Smith. This title shot is a huge step up and one that he has worked toward since turning pro in 2008.
Jermall has an identical twin brother, Jermell, who is a step ahead of him on the ladder. At 26-0, Jermell recently beat Vanes Martirosyan at the Palms in Las Vegas. If Jermell happens to beat Bundrage, it would be a real notch on his belt.
It’s always interesting to see if youth beats experience or if wisdom outlasts exuberance.