Errol Spence, Jr. to Get Title Shot in May
By: Eric Lunger
In late May of this year, American welterweight Errol Spence, Jr. (21-0, 18 KOs) should be on his way to Sheffield, England, for a world title clash with Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs), the charismatic and popular British IBF champion. Brook suffered a broken orbital bone last September during a brave, if reckless, move up to middleweight against feared Kazakh brawler Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. The Spence vs. Brook clash is still in negotiations, although Errol himself seem confident that the fight was going ahead. Interviewed last weekend on the CBS prefight broadcast, Spence promised the bout would take place in late May, and sources at PBC hope to make an official announcement soon.
I hope the two sides can sort out the details because this is a very attractive fight. Spence is a young and talented southpaw looking to make a statement in the ever-exciting welterweight division, while Brook is a seasoned pro with a huge following in his native England. Brook won the IBF strap from Shawn Porter by majority decision, in a rough and scrappy bout at the StubHub Center in California back in August of 2014. He has defended it three times since, all bouts taking place in England, but Spence will clearly be a step up in opposition and class.
I like the symmetry of this fight, as well. Brook came to the US and fought in Porter’s backyard to win the belt, and now Spence would travel to England to try to bring the belt back here.
Objectively, Brook is a complete fighter: cagey defense, excellent footwork, can score with both hands, difficult to hit. His willingness to fight Golovkin testifies to his courage.
But here’s the thing. With the exception of Anthony Joshua, British fighters have been on a skid recently, at least against US or Mexico based opponents. Brook got blasted out by Golovkin in five rounds, albeit after landing a few good shots on the middleweight boss. Liam “Beefy” Smith took a number of vicious body shots from Canelo Alvarez, and was stopped in the 9th round. Smith spent most of the fight in survival mode, guard up and not throwing. Highly touted Amir Khan looked ordinary and outmatched by Canelo from the opening bell in their bout in Vegas, and when Canelo landed a perfect right on Khan’s chin, it was lights out.
So Brook has some questions to answer, and he (unfairly or not) needs to be the face of British boxing in May. He needs to make a big statement as THE British welterweight, as a fighter who can compete with Garcia, Spence, Thurman, etc. In addition, he has to answer the question: did the Golovkin loss damage him or make him stronger? My guess is the latter, but you never know what a tough defeat like that the Golovkin loss will do to a fighter’s psyche.
Errol Spence has some questions to answer, too. Is he ready to move up to this level of opposition? Can he travel? How will he handle the pressure of fighting in Brook’s home ground, in front of the rabid British boxing public? Is he ready for a fighter of Brook’s savvy and ring experience?
We will find out the answers to all these questions in May, hopefully, with the winner of this bout in position to further unify the red-hot welterweight division.