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Trainer Derrick James: Errol Spence “Has A Lot To Prove”

By: Sean Crose

“There’s only five boxers in boxing that make their own money,” says Errol Spence trainer Derrick James to Marcos Villegas, “Errol Spence, Tank Davis Tyson Fury, Canelo Alvarez, and Anthony Joshua. Nobody else sells.” Speaking to Villegas on the eve of WBC and IBF champion Spence’s welterweight title unification fight against WBA titlist Yorenis Ugas, James makes it clear his fighter is focused on staying at the top of the fight game. “He has a lot to prove,” he says of Spence. “Ugas poses challenges and he (Spence) wants to show the world he has the ability to be great again.”

Don't Call It A Comeback: Spence Outpoints Garcia in Ring Return
Photo: Premier Boxing Champions

A terrifying 2019 car crash took Spence out of the sport for a bit, as did an eye injury which led to Spence stepping away from last year’s planned megafight with Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao. In fact, Spence has only fought once since his horrific crash, besting Danny Garcia by unanimous decision late in 2020. According to James, his fighter has only improved since that time. “He wants to be better for himself,” says James. “He’s very vicious. His punching is very vicious. He’s been looking very vicious, very strong, very physical.” Does James think Spence’s power can lead to a victory over Ugas within the distance? “I think that it can possibly.”

One subject James doesn’t seem particularly keen on talking about at length – at least right now – is WBO titlist Terence Crawford. “We’re not talking about Terence Crawford right now,” he tells Villegas. “That’s not the focus or incentive to make him be better…(we) just focus on 100 percent Ugas.” After Villegas brings up Crawford again, the interview becomes a bit tense. “That’s trash,” says James at one point. “I gotta calm down. You’re about to piss me off.”

To James, the idea of Spence facing Crawford for anything less than the undisputed welterweight championship of the world is ridiculous. “That’s some dumb shit,” he says. The other fight is the stupid fight…why not fight for the undisputed championship of the world?” James also makes it clear that Spence has already covered this ground. “He’s said it three or four times, ‘I want to be the undisputed champion of the world.’” James says in defense of his fighter. While this all may be true, it’s also true that Ugas is aiming to upset the apple cart when the bell rings at AT&T stadium Saturday night – something James is keenly aware of. Hence the reluctance to look beyond this weekend.

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