Errol Spence poised for stardom
By Dan Ambrose: Undefeated welterweight contender Errol Spence Jr. (21-0, 18 KOs) brought in an average of 4.8 million viewers last Sunday for his fight against Leonard Bundu (33-2-2, 12 KOs) on Premier Boxing Champions on NBC in their fight at the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island, New York.
The Spence-Bundu fight peaked at 6.34 million viewers. This was PBC’s No.1 fight of all time in the ratings department. The fact that it was Spence that brought in the ratings is pretty special, because he’s being earmarked as the next huge star in the 147lb division. Spence is two or three wins away from being the biggest star in the welterweight division.
Spence needs wins over Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Tim Bradley to take over Floyd Mayweather Jr’s empty throne. Spence has a good chance of getting at least three of those fights. He probably won’t be able to ever fight Bradley, because he’s with Top Rank and the boss of that company might not be too excited at putting the aging money maker Bradley in with a young lion like Spence at this point in his career. However, we might someday see Arum take a gamble with one of his younger stars in Terence Crawford to eventually match him with Spence in the future if the two fighters keep winning. That fight is probably three to four years away though.
While some of the credit for the huge ratings has to go to the wisdom of Spence’s manager Al Haymon purchasing time on NBC in putting Spence’s fight immediately after the Olympics gold medal basketball game involving the United States and Serbia in Rio, you’ve got to give the young 26-year-old Spence much of the credit, because he’s quickly building up a huge fan base with his exciting knockouts. The 2012 U.S Olympian is taking the welterweight division by storm with outstanding performances. We got a glimpse of Spence’s talent in the Bundu fight, where he took his time to break down the 41-year-old fighter before knocking him down twice in the 6th to get the knockout.
The fight was an IBF welterweight eliminator bout, so we’re going to see Spence fighting for a world title against IBF champion Kell Brook soon. If Brook doesn’t want to fight Spence, then so be it. He’ll fight someone else picked out by the IBF to fight him. The main thing is we’re going to see Spence in a title fight soon, and he’s going to be able to show the world whether he’s the replacement for Floyd Mayweather Jr. or not when that happens.
“I knew this would be the most important fight of my career, and the goal was to not just win but to put on a spectacular, one-sided performance,” said Spence. “It felt good to go out there and give everyone watching a great show, and to do it in front of such a large television audience makes it even better. Thanks to everyone who tuned in, and I promise you’ll be seeing more of me soon. My time is now, and this is just the beginning.”
Spence’s promoter Lou Dibella was visibly excited after the fight last Sunday. Dibella seems to realize what he’s seeing in the young star Spence. The young Spence is on the cusp of stardom and Dibella was very happy at seeing the huge ratings his fighter brought in. Not all of Dibella’s fighters have worked out to become huge stars over the years, but Spence might be one that will make the promtoter a happy man.
Spence could be a gold mine if he can become a pay-per-view attraction for Dibella and his manager Al Haymon. The sky is the limit if Spence can continue to bring in huge ratings like we saw in the Bundu fight. The only thing that’s keeping Spence from getting to the next level is wins against the top names. Spence won’t be able to become a star on the cheap by beating a handful of lesser fighters. He specifically needs to take the scalps from the likes of Bradley, Crawford, Danny Garcia, Thurman, Porter, Amir Khan, and some of the fighters at 140 and possibly 160.
“Six million watching a fight is great for boxing,” DiBella said via ESPN.com. “Millions of people were watching the basketball game and saw the electric crowd, and then when the game was over, they were taken to the fight in Coney Island to another electric crowd, and they stayed with it, and they saw a great performance from Spence. That’s a great sign for boxing. For a young superstar in the making like Spence, that’s great for him also. It’s great for the whole sport. Spence got a sensational knockout, and it was seen by an awful lot of people. That’s going to help everybody. It’s a win-win. Everyone involved was happy with the numbers.”
There’s nothing stopping Spence from getting to the top of the sport. He just needs to take the right fights. Spence’s previous win over Chris Algieri last April gave a good indication of what the boxing world can expect from him in the future, as he blew through the former WBO 140lb champion in five rounds in obliterating him. Algieri is the same fighter that was taken the distance by Manny Pacquiao and Ruslan Provodnikov in the past. The fact that Spence was able to knock him out in five rounds is pretty impressive. Pacquiao couldn’t do it, but Spence could. That shows you the difference between Spence and Pacquiao’s talent.
Spence’s sixth round knockout over Bundu improved on the performance by Keith Thurman in his win over the Italian based fighter two years ago. Thurman had to fight full 12 rounds to beat Bundu by a 12 round decision in their fight in 2012, and he did not look good in winning that fight. Thurman looked confused and uncomfortable with the pressure style from Bundu, and the crowd was less than happy at watching him run around the ring. The fans wanted to see Thurman slug with Bundu, but wasn’t willing to do that because he kept getting hit with big shots from him. Spence was able to find his way through Bundu’s offense without getting hit too much to get the knockout win.
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