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Errol Spence Jr. is part of the rise of American Boxing

Errol Spence Jr Keith Thurman Kell Brook Terence Crawford

By David Alexander: Errol Spence Jr. (21-0, 18 KOs), a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team, will challenge Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOS) on Saturday for the IBF welterweight title in Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England, before about 30,000 fans. A boxer’s style can reflect his personality at large. Take, for example, the two greatest of their generation: Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather fights at a distance, not allowing anybody in, his guard almost always up. Pacquiao, conversely, often charges ahead, occasionally taking unnecessary risks, leaving himself exposed. Many would say the two men possess those traits outside the ring as well.

Spence’s style says two things about him that seem to be in direct confliction. The effortlessness with which he operates in the ring suggests an appreciation for comfort, a desire to stay with the familiar. Yet his aggression when pressed suggests a willingness to do whatever is necessary to succeed, however uncomfortable or painful it might be.

Spence is big, powerful, athletic, has great timing, precise movements that are the result of superior footwork and a mind that seems to think four or five steps ahead of his opponent.

He’s not more widely known because of the state of modern boxing, though English promoters and fans are doing their best to uplift it. He is, though, extraordinarily gifted, and the feeling from many is that as good as he’s been in running up that 21-0 mark, his best is yet to come.

Brook, who has to be given enormous amounts of credit for his willingness to fight elite opponents, understands the level of opposition he’s facing, even if many American fans do not. A budding star like Spence could have had an easier path, had he wanted it. He could have gotten a fight at home in front of a friendly crowd. But he’s going to Brook’s hometown in front of what surely will be a heavily pro-Brook/UK audience.

That’s tough to overcome, particularly if the judges get influenced by the cheers for Brook. Spence, though, knows he’s good enough to win on the road against a good opponent, so he had no qualms about accepting the fight. Errol Spence’s life will change dramatically, one way or the other, on May 27. That’s the night he is to fight International Boxing Federation welterweight champion Kell Brook, in Brook’s native Sheffield, England.

It is a match with enormous stakes. A loss would set Spence back, perhaps for years. At 21–0 with 18 knockouts, he is currently feared by many in his weight class. But if he emerges without a championship belt, there will be little incentive for prospective opponents to face him. And make no mistake: Spence could lose. Brook has a stellar 36–1 record, with his lone blemish coming at the hands of the highly respected middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.

Brook moved up two weight classes for the opportunity to take that lucrative bout. He was competitive for five rounds before his corner threw in the towel because of an eye injury and of Brook’s stubbornness that he was outmatched by GGG. Against Spence, back in his proper weight class.  Brook will be more dangerous. A win over Brook on his home turf, on the other hand, puts Spence on a track for superstardom. It sets up potential multimillion-dollar bouts in the near future, and possible PPV bouts against Terrance Crawford, Keith Thurman and Mikey Garcia (if he moves up).  A Spence victory would be the sign of an arrival of yet another young, under-30 boxing star. Spence is 27. Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford, who each have experts who believe they’re the best in the world, are both 29. Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is 27. Canelo Alvarez is 26. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is 29. Keith Thurman is 28. There are more, but the point is obvious. They are a slew of talented boxers just now into their prime in the boxing world.

There is legitimate hope that this can be something of a golden age for the sport. Sugar Ray Leonard led that golden age in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s along with fighters like Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Larry Holmes and Wilfred Benitez, among many others. Spence has the ability to be the best of the current crop, and that’s saying a lot. But the time for talking about potential and physical gifts is over.

With Spence favored in this fight and coming in confident, talented and focused (with something to prove), I predict a 9th round TKO victory for Errol Spence Jr in Sheffield, England.

With the likes of Spence, Crawford, Thurman, and Garcia coming along in the sport of boxing in America. It’s time for Errol Spence Jr. to prove why so many believe he’s about to become one of the new faces and the part of the rise of American boxing.


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