Cornelius “K9” Bundrage is the reigning IBF junior middleweight champion. Since
2009, Bundrage, best known for being on “The Contender” reality series (ESPN - second season),
has fought just once a year. More frustrating for Bundrage is that since
winning his title in August of 2010 (when he stopped Cory Spinks in five
rounds), he has only fought Sechew Powell, winning a 12-round decision in St.
Louis in a non-televised affair.
believed that winning a major world title and being with Don King meant living
in a much higher tax bracket. Instead, he's in semi-retirement at age 38.
been very frustrating. I mean, I've been in the same weight division with
Miguel Cotto. I'm in the same weight division as Saul Alvarez. We're talking
about cash-cows,” said Bundrage, from his home in Detroit. “These guys are
getting these big fights. They world champions just like I'm a world champion.
And why can't we all get along? I know they're not scared to fight me, so I'm
looking at my promoter. He's my promoter for a reason, so he should be able to
get these fights done. They were talking about me fighting Saul Alvarez. All of
a sudden, they're not talking about me fighting Saul Alvarez anymore. Then they
were talking about me fighting [James] Kirkland. Next thing you know, they're
talking about me not fighting Kirkland no more.
“I don't understand why being a world champion is so hard. When I became a
world champion, I thought it was money in the bank. It seems like I'm the same
fighter from when I first turned pro, trying to make it from day to day, week
to week and it shouldn't be like that.”
what's on the table for “K9”? According to his manager, Emanuel Steward, on
Tuesday night, “Well, right now, there's not yet any fights. He was just offered
a fight two hours ago but in the meantime, we've been filling out some legal
papers. We put a lawyer on the situation. We were offered a fight that is not
good for ‘K9’ and it's on the same date as St. Patrick's Day where we'll be
tied up with Andy Lee's fight anyways. But for the most part, he's just been on
the shelf from fighting one fight a year. That's what's been happening for ‘K9.’”
understands their frustrations, telling Maxboxing this past Wednesday, “I think
they're absolutely correct and I think that the game being played that has been
played, I'm simply about to rectify it. I sent them a contract for three fights
yesterday. So hopefully and prayfully, everything will go right. I love Emanuel
and I think Cornelius is just a wonderful guy. He's out there; he's trying to
make it and I just want to help him every way that I can to fulfill the
prophecy of his dream and try to do that. So he's going to be fighting on March
17th and then, I want to put him in with the guy from the Cayman
Islands, Charles Whittaker and then I want to put him in his mandatory- the
winner of January 28th when Cory Spinks and Sechew Powell fight for
the elimination for the number one spot. We'll be able to put them in, all
three of them next year and maybe another big one that will come by that he
could get because Cornelius has really been good.
been good and everybody's been playing the games. They don't want to follow the
rules or whatever it is and each network was saying that they didn't want to
buy him. Yet they want to be able to put him in with whoever they think this
giant killer is and I haven't done that. They have never come through with
anything, just talk, talk, talk,” said a frustrated King, who added, “The end
result is he hasn't been fighting. So now he's got three fights lined up.”
of the problem is that unlike years past, King no longer has the juice he once
did. There was a time he could leverage his relationship with the networks to
find his lesser-known clients slots because he also represented the likes of Mike
Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez and Felix Trinidad. That day has come and gone. He is
now the Lion King in winter.
says, “[Bundrage]'s a victim. I'm a victim and it's really a situation where
it's totally unjust, unfair, but it's for big boys. You're not going to Sunday
school. You've got to do what is real.” But for as unlevel a playing a field as
it may be with HBO and Showtime, ultimately, it is King's job to fulfill his
contract with Bundrage and keep him active. Has he done enough on his part?
what? The thing is to get him out there and get him paid is two different
things,” reasoned the promoter, pointing out that for a guy like Bundrage,
fights on the premium cable networks will pay substantially more than a non-televised
fight. “I can get him out there but when he's sacrificed and fights, he knows
the marketplace don't bear. Nobody really knows who he was. He did a great job
in beating Sechew Powell and now, what is is they will not buy him. But really,
for the amount of money that just to give him out of my pocket- which I will do
and which I've offered to do- he wants to wait to see what he can get. Plus,
the fact I was working on the big deal that's going to be out of the country
and I told him that we're trying to reel that deal in there where he's going to
get paid three times as much as he would be getting under the normal conditions
of his deal.
still alive but as always, everything is crashing in these economic times
everywhere and you don't get it. So you're talking another promise, promise,
promise- but no result. But with patience, he will come out. That's what I gave
him, a three-fight proposal yesterday. The contract is in his hand.”
and Steward have long run out of patience (Steward is still miffed that
Bundrage was not put on the undercard of Tim Bradley vs. Devon Alexander in
Pontiac, Michigan last January, which badly needed some local ticket sellers).
The Hall of Fame trainer/manager says that his boxer’s recent inactivity “has
mystified me” and also believes that King “wanted an excessive amount of options
and everything” on prospective opponents, effectively killing a lot of deals.
signed with Don King. ‘Oh, it's definitely going to come. It's Don King; only
in America!” said Bundrage of his original expectations in signing with DKP. “It's
just like when I first turned pro. It's just been a whole lot of lies. There
was a singer named Michel'le; she had a song called ‘No More Lies’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H93Ce1Og3HI).
When asked what King continues to tell him, slipping into his best King
impersonation, he says, “I love you, ‘K9.’ I love you, ‘K9’! Man, you got a
this, Bundrage responds, “So show me like you know me. Ya know what I mean?”
is an affable sort, funny and talkative. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find
a friendlier disposition from anyone in his current predicament. When you ask
him what he's out there surviving against, Bundrage explains, “Being in an
economy where the economy is so jacked up the way it is right now, that even
with one fight, staying where I stay at, the economy is bad but in Detroit-
it's even worse. And making the money that I make for a fight, it can last me a
year, maybe even two years. In Detroit, you can buy a hose for a dollar. I don't
get out here. I don't flash. You don't see me on [HBO’s] ‘24/7’ with all this
money, talking about, ‘I'm doing this; I'm doing that’- only bread I got is a loaf
of bread. I got wheat bread.”
other words, Bundrage lives within his means.
don't have a high-priced life; I don't be at the clubs,” said the married
father of two. “I ain't throwing it up; I ain't making it rain. I'm just taking
care of my family, paying my tithes, doing what I'm supposed to do.”
he has kids who aren't asking for the newest Jordans.
wasn't in line,” Bundrage says of his oldest son, laughing,” and he didn't have
no tent waiting for an iPhone or anything like that.” (During this interview,
he interrupts our discussion by turning off the xBox, saying, “I'm going to
quit whipping my sons but in this video game, I told him to put that on hold
for a minute. I mean, before the batteries go dead because Don King got me no
fights yet. I can't afford no batteries.”)
is extremely religious (as you can probably tell if you follow his Twitter
feed, @K9boxing). When asked if he's worried about rust or his career dying on
the vine, he states, “I put it all in God's hands,” adding, “I would hope
people could see how good I am and it's just not on YouTube.”
he isn't Job; this has soured him on the business of boxing.
me tell you something; I always recommend young people when I go to the
schools, talk to the kids; I tell ‘em, ‘Don't be a boxer; just do the boxing workout,’
because the business part is so dirty. Why do you think boxing is no longer on [ABC’s]
‘Wide World of Sports.’ It's too shady. [Editor’s
note: As a program, “Wild World of Sports” ended its run in 1998.] We don't
have a heavyweight world champion in America because they're all in the NFL or
NBA. It's too shady; it's a dirty business. Actually, if I can be a leader in
getting us a union to fight for some of our rights, because a manager, a
promoter, they shouldn't just be allowed to do whatever they want to do,” he
just wanna see him fight,” says King, who hopes his proposal will be accepted. “I
wanna see him get paid. I wanna see Emanuel get paid because I think Emanuel's one
of the best trainers in the world and, plus, he's a friend. So I wanna see
things happen, even though they may realize and understand I am not to blame
but like I said, he signed a contract with me. He didn't sign with them and so
if HBO or Showtime want to play this game, let them continue to play this game-
we'll see how it works out at the end of the day.”
is a very good chance that instead of fighting for King, Bundrage and Steward
could be fighting against him in litigation.
confirmed Steward, who is fed up. “We've filled out all of the papers and
OF THEIR LIVES
past week, I finally had a chance to watch “Fight of Their Lives,” a
brilliantly produced documentary on the incredibly ill-fated bout between Nigel
Benn and Gerald McClellan that took place on February 25th, 1995.
Folks, this wasn't as good as advertised- it was better. It was as high in
quality, in my not-always-humble opinion, as any installment of HBO’s “Legendary
Nights.” The behind-the-scenes footage and interviews were incredible and
revealing all at once. By the time you're done watching it, you're almost
fight and its aftermath play out like a Greek tragedy.
said, the one thing I found peculiar were the segments involving Steward who,
for much of the “G-Man's” career, was his trainer and manager before stepping
aside as the familiar disputes over money and power surfaced. Steward basically
cut the interview short and was unusually uncomfortable with the subject matter
and left in the middle of the taping. If you know “Mr. Kronk,” he's one of the
most accommodating men there is, regarding the media. This past Friday night, I
spent a good deal of time with Steward at the Pechanga Resort and Casino where
there was a “Kronk Fight Night” and I asked him about that documentary (which
he still has not seen, by the way).
Steward and his director of business affairs, Anita Ruiz, explained they were
brought to that interview under false pretenses. The filming took place in
Europe during a recent fight involving Wladimir Klitschko and the interview was
set up with the belief that Steward would be talking about Klitschko's upcoming
bout. Instead, they were essentially ambushed with this subject matter, always sensitive
showed Matt Swider and me an old VHS tape of McClellan sparring James Toney at
the original Kronk as he was showing us around his city last year while in town
for Bradley-Alexander. To Steward, McClellan was one of the great regrets in
his career and not just necessarily from a perspective of prizefighting. Anyone
who was familiar with McClellan will tell you that during that era, he changed
into a very dark and disturbed individual.
if you have a chance to view “Fight of Their Lives” (produced by ITV1 in the
UK), don't miss it.
had a lot to say during our interview, which included thoughts on The Ring magazine.
respect for Oscar De La Hoya. I'm happy with what Oscar De La Hoya did for
boxing and I'm happy because he's part of the promotional team, Golden Boy, but
how is it that he owns The Ring magazine
and he's able to put guys that haven't done anything ahead of me and I'm a
world champion? I look up in The Ring magazine and I'm ranked number eight. Well, the guys rated higher than me is
because why? They with Golden Boy.
just crooked. If you got money, you can do what you want to do and it shouldn't
just be like that. Fair is fair; right is right. Can't we all just get along?
Tell Obama, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’”
the only real eye-opening thing was Vanes Martirosyan at three. Seriously? What
has he done to really deserve a rating that high? (and for the record, he's
promoted by Top Rank).
[Editor’s note: As of press time, The
Ring’s ratings haven’t been updated in nearly a month.]
night’s main event at Pechanga was cancelled by the commission’s doctor about
an hour or so before the fight as Cleven Ishe had an abscess tooth that swelled
up overnight. This meant Tony Harrison, who Steward is high on, had no fight...I
thought that Teon Kennedy pulled away late to defeat Christopher Martin on “Friday
Night Fights”...It's still up in the air as to whether Brandon Rios will face
Johnny Molina on March 3rd at the Home Depot Center in Carson,
California on HBO...Yeah, so FOX is doing a “Napoleon Dynamite” animated
series? Isn't that about seven years too late? And if the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather
bout finally takes place in 2014, can you say that this fight was “Napoleon
Dynamite'd”?...Can the Lakers win consistently with Kobe going one-on-five so
much at the end of games?...I'll say it right now’ the ‘Niners thriller over
the Saints is one of the all-time best NFL playoff games I have ever seen...