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29th May 2020
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Errol Spence Jnr currently sits amongst the pound for pound stars in boxing. He’s the #1 ranked welterweight in the world with his sights set on the big names in the 154lb division and even hinted over bouts at 160lbs. He was born in Long Island but grew up in De Soto, Texas, so his first love was football, not boxing. He dreamed of playing for his beloved Dallas Cowboys since he was young and the thought of lacing up a pair of gloves hadn’t even crossed his mind. He didn’t step foot into a boxing gym until the age of sixteen which makes his achievements all the more special.
As an amateur, he had a strong pedigree as a welterweight from 2009-2011. The southpaw won three successive US national’s, a golden gloves title and a US national PAL tournament. In 2012, he qualified for the Olympic games in London but was unfortunately beaten by Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy in the quarter-finals. Zamakovoy is a world-class operator who boasts a silver and gold medal in the world championships, so it was not a loss which anyone could be ashamed of by any means. After Spence’s Olympic journey, the professional game was the most obvious step for his career. The Olympics gave him the platform on the world stage and his crisp, technical and calculated style was definitely suited for what was to come in the paid game.
Three months after the Olympics, on 9th November, he knocked out Jonathon Garcia in the third round at the Golden Springs casino in California to come through his debut with flying colours. Another third-round TKO of Richard Andrews in his next bout saw him finish 2012 as an olympian and 2-0 in the paid ranks. As far as years go in sports, it was the perfect building block for the young prospect. He started off 2013 by beating Nathan Butcher and Luis Torres to stay unbeaten, but what came next shocked everyone but the determined De Soto native. He became an urban legend when he was called into sparring by the pound for pound and PPV superstar, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. Due to Spence’s humble and respectful personality, he never bragged of the tale, but by all accounts, he beat Mayweather in every department. Sources within the Mayweather gym in Las Vegas stated that ‘Spence Jnr knocked lumps out of the future Hall of Famer’. Mayweather was training for his fight with Robert Guerrero and as he paraded the media in his own trademark style, he was sporting a nice shiner under his eye, courtesy of Spence himself. Spence spoke to the media after he left Las Vegas and said ‘I wasn’t thinking of how big it might be [sparring Mayweather] for my career. I was just there to learn from the best, not to make headlines’. The confidence from his time with Mayweather showed in a huge way, regardless of the humble approach. He went on the finish 2013 winning another six fights and bolster his record to 10-0 (8 KO’s).
2014 started with a state homecoming fight in San Antonio, where he knocked out Kenya’s Peter Olouch in the fourth round. He won his next three fights against Raymond Charles, Ronald Cruz and Noe Balanos before ending the year with a fifth-round TKO of Francisco Javier Castro on the Devon Alexander Vs Amir Khan undercard. This stacked card at the MGM Garden Arena also featured Keith Thurman, Victor Ortiz, Abner Mares and the Charlo brothers. Those names are the type of company anyone in boxing would want to be keeping. Spence’s opponent that night, was also matched up against Julian Williams before he fought and won his 154lb title after beating Jarret Hurd in 2019. For Spence, it was a great fight to gauge his ability before stepping up to the welterweight gatekeepers on his path towards becoming a world champion.
The next step in the calibre of opponent came four months later at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Canadian based Colombian Samuel Vargas faced off against Spence and he was a man on a very similar path and stage of his career with a record of 20-1-1 (10 KO’s). Although the two men shared the same goals, their skills were worlds apart as Spence produced a career-best performance to finish Vargas in the fourth round by TKO. His next three opponents were all ranked in the top ten by the main four governing bodies. First up to the chopping board was Phil Lo Greco, followed by former IBO world champion Chris Van Heerden and Alejandro Barrera. Spence stopped all three men inside the distance to prove his potential dominance at 147lbs and also set up a showdown with former world champion Chris Algeri. Algieri had beaten the granite chinned Ruslan Provodnikov to become WBO light-welterweight champion before suffering two losses to Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan before signing the contract to face Spence. He had experience, toughness and a slick style which could have potentially caused Spence some problems he had never experienced. Algeri would also have the advantage of a home crowd in Brooklyn, New York, but all of the above counted for little. Spence showed his size, power and dominant ability forcing the referee to step in and end the fight in the fifth round. ‘The Truth’ now boasted a 20-0 (17 KO’s) record and finally earned a world title eliminator with the winner of that bout facing off against IBF champion Kell Brook.
Standing in the way of world title fight was European, Commonwealth and Mediterranean champion Leonard Bundu. The tough and tricky Italian was familiar to fans of the British boxing scene, as he beat Lee Purdy and former world amateur champion Frankie Gavin. His record was an impressive 33-1-2 (12 KO’s) with his only loss coming against elite-level world champion, Keith Thurman. With the pressure that comes with gaining a world title shot, most men would let the pressure get to them, but most men aren’t Errol Spence Jnr. Spence blasted Bundu in six rounds, becoming the first man to knock out the Italian in his entire thirty-seven fight career as a pro. With less than four years as a professional, ‘The Truth’ has finally got the chance at fulfilling his dream of becoming champion of the world champion.
Kell Brook was now the objective at hand, but Spence was by no means in for an easy fight. It was the first time Spence had boxed outside of North America and he would have to do it in the UK in front of a partisan crowd in Brook’s home town of Sheffield. The bout took place at Sheffield United’s stadium, Bramhall Lane with a crowd of over thirty thousand. Brook was undefeated as a welterweight and his only loss was a one-off opportunity to win the WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight title against the Kazakh superstar Gennady Golovkin. Brook was TKO’d by Golovkin and suffered a fractured orbital bone, but was recovered and ready to defend his title at 147lbs. The fight was definitely the toughest to date for Spence as both men had success from both inside and at range. Going into the tenth round the fight was close on the scorecards, but Spence took a brace at the end of the round and looked as if he was turning the tide in his favour. In the eleventh round, Brook’s eye injury in his previous fight against Golovkin came back to haunt him. Spence landed shots and then gave Brook a standing count before winning the IBF title by TKO. He had reached his goal within less than four years as a pro and gladly put a target on his back for the rest of the pound for pound opposition who were watching from afar.
The newly crowned IBF welterweight champ took a well deserved seven-month break before fighting WBA (Regular) world champion Lamont Peterson in his first title defence. Peterson had previously beaten Amir Khan, Kendall Holt, Felix Diaz and David Avanesyan so was still amongst the top fighters in the division. The seven month lay off for Spence showed little ring rust when he retired Peterson in the seventh round. He was only the second fighter to stop Peterson since the brutally powerful Lucas Matthysse TKO’d him in 2013. Spence gained another KO win over the undefeated Mexican Carlos Ocampo in the first round to win his second defence of the IBF crown before setting up a super fight with the undefeated, four-weight world champion Mikey Garcia. Although Garcia’s was far from a welterweight, he was still 39-0 (30 KO’s) and had a skillset which any boxer would love to have in their arsenal. Spence put his world title on the line as Garcia looked to win a title at a fifth weight class and join the very few star names who have achieved this previous. Although Spence was the clear favourite for the fight, on paper Garcia had everything in his skillset to cause an upset and was driven to do the unthinkable. True to form and what we have come to expect from ‘The Truth’, Spence won the fight by a clear unanimous decision and successfully defended his belt for a third time.
With the taste for gold still on his lips, Spence now looked to unify the division against WBC champion Shawn Porter. Porter had been on the world title level since 2013 when he beat Devon Alexander to win the IBF title. He also boasted big wins against Alfonso Gomez, Julio Diaz, Paulie Malignaggi, Adrien Broner and Andre Berto. After beating Berto, Porter won the vacant WBC title against Danny Garcia and beat Cuban Yordenis Ugas in his maiden defence. He is a come forward, high pressure and volume fighter with an engine to match. The bout between the two was one of the most entertaining fights of 2019, with a back and forth, toe to toe affair. As stated above, Porter’s engine allowed him to keep a pace which very few could hang with. With the fight close on the cards in the eleventh round, Spence landed a spectacular left hook, sending Porter to the canvas. The knockdown proved to be pivotal as Spence went on to win by split decision and earned the outright #1 spot in the welterweight division.
The IBF and WBC champion now had the world at his feet, earning millions with his fighting career and endorsement deals and was providing a comfortable life for his two young daughters Ivy and Violet. Like many people in the fight game, there is often a curveball moment which can often become fatal. Sadly, for Spence this became a reality when he was hospitalized to the intensive care unit after a high-speed car crash. Two weeks after his fight with Porter he crashed his Ferrari 488 spider after veering left over the centre median before flipping several times and ejecting him from the vehicle. For what had to be a miracle, Spence had no broken bones but had lacerations to his face before being released from hospital six days later. After this lucky escape, he has been training and looks to build on what he has already achieved in boxing. He’s stated to the media that he wants to put this disturbing incident behind him and concentrate on continuing his success.
Although a world title at 154lbs is in his thoughts, he feels that he has unfinished business at welterweight. The on-going dream match up the fans want to see against Terrence Crawford still has its teething problems, with the two sides not being able to reach an agreement at this time. Spence has openly said he doesn’t want a tune-up fight after the accident and his time away from the ring since the Porter fight. Although the COVID pandemic is spreading mayhem across the world, The Athletic reporter Mike Coppinger sourced that a fight against Danny Garcia will take place in the fall. With options still at welterweight there for him, he also has a close eye on the light-middleweight champions and admits that the weight cut to 147lbs could become difficult in the future.
Mouthwatering match ups at 154lb could see him face Jeison Rosario, Erislandy Lara, Patrick Teixeira and Jermell Charlo. At welterweight, Manny Pacquiao waits along with Keith Thurman and hopefully, a unification bout with Terrence Crawford can materialise at some point sooner than later. WBA (Regular) champion Alexander Besputin also sits waiting for a potential match up. Although at both weights he has choices, the welterweight division is the most stacked in boxing presently so his feel for unfinished business is more than justified. With him sitting at #6 in the pound for pound rankings, finding good matchups isn’t going to be something he has to worry about. Whatever the future holds for this superstar, it is only going to benefit us as fans.
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