Somebody’s 0 Has Got to Go: The Top Three Fights Fans Want to See
By: Oliver McManus
“Somebody’s 0 has got to go”, it’s possibly the most used phrase in modern boxing. Mind you, if David Diamante has his way it will soon become “let’s nix a nil” but the premise remains the same, two unbeaten fighters putting their records on the line in, hopefully, guts-and-glory encounters.
Don’t get me wrong, a loss doesn’t make you a bad fighter and beating an unbeaten man doesn’t, equally, make you a star player in the sport. As we’ve seen recently there have been a fair few damp squibs when it comes to unbeaten vs unbeaten – Andrade vs Kautondokwa, anyone?
Nonetheless there are plenty of mouth-watering fights in prospect and these are three fights I want to see, at world level, where someone’s 0 has got to go…
Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk – Heavyweight
Where better place to kick off than in the heavyweight division? Anthony Joshua has had things pretty much his own way at the top of the game since winning his first world title – sanctioned by the IBF- in 2016. Since that capitulation of Charles Martin, Joshua has fought in six world title bouts and added the WBA, WBO and IBO straps to his collection.
With a touted fight against Deontay Wilder falling by the wayside – take whoever’s side you want on that thorny issue – Joshua is next out on April 13th, at Wembley, with an opponent yet to be scheduled in.
But I’ll be honest, the tag of undisputed aside, I’d much rather see AJ in with the man who holds all of the cruiserweight belts and, arguably, one of the best in the world pound for pound. Usyk seems to me, and many others, the toughest challenge that Joshua can face.
Technically he is sublime and he possesses the heavyweight power required to take Joshua into deep water but, let’s not forget, Usyk has amateur pedigree in the heavier division so it’s not like he’s inexperienced at the weight. Even having said that experience wouldn’t be an issue for someone of such natural quality as Usyk for his fight IQ and ring-ability transcends weight classes.
Coming off the back of a breezy fight against Tony Bellew in which, if we’re honest, he never looked out of control the natural step is for Usyk to go up to heavyweight. Joshua, we know, is searching for “legacy defining” fights and a bout against Oleksandr Usyk is about as big as they come.
The fight seems the most realistic, out of all the big heavyweight contests, with Eddie Hearn taking an active involvement in the promotion of the Ukrainian powerhouse so, fingers crossed, we could see a blockbuster event next year.
Winner of Errol Spence Jnr and Mikey Garcia vs Terence Crawford – Welterweight
Announced last week is the fight that, if we’re honest, made no real sense. Mikey Garcia was the man we all wanted to see fight Vasyl Lomachenko and Errol Spence was the champion looking to unify with Terrence Crawford.
The IBF Welterweight title will be on line come March 16th with Garcia looking to become a five weight champion in his 40th fight. A frighteningly skilled boxer, the California native has continually proved his credentials with a frightening knockout power.
In his last three fights Garcia has been extended the distance but has boxed with class throughout the 36 rounds, controlling the pace of the fight and manouvering his way out of danger with a comprehensive ease.
Errol Spence Jnr goes into the bout with an obvious weight advantage – fighting 12lbs heavier than the division in which Garcia actively holds a world title. 2 years the younger man, Spence burst onto the scene in 2016 with knockout victories over Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu.
Having captured the IBF crown with a ferocious victory against Kell Brook, in Sheffield, the Texas-man has defended the belt twice in equally terrifying fashion. A non-stop work rate with continual punch output, if you let the champion unfurl his hands then you’re going to be in trouble.
And whilst the question of weight will loom over the bout until fight night, Garcia is a consummate professional and an outstanding athlete. For a man trying to prove his ability in the welterweight division, there could be no better way to silence the critics than claiming a world title in your first fight so that’s where Terence Crawford comes into play.
Errol Spence is the man that people wanted to see in a unification class with Bud, they would produce a scintillating fight. If Mikey Garcia is able to overcome such a challenge then he will have instantaneously justified getting a fight with the WBO champion.
All roads lead to unification, or so they… bring it on!
Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol – Light Heavyweight
We’ll deal with the younger boxer first in Dmitry Bivol who ticked over towards the back of 2014 with a Bronze Medal at the 2008 Youth World Championships and a Gold Medal at the 2013 World Combat Games. A two time Russian national champion with a record of 268-15, his amateur pedigree was impressive but paled in comparison to his counterpart.
As a professional, though, the 27 year old really turned up the heat by claiming the first, major, belt of his career in just his fifth fight. The knockout power we all enjoy was evident from the first second of his debut but, with that, he’d find opponents looking to hold and just survive through the early phases. Not that that mattered, Bivol has always found ways of punishing his opponent.
Even when he has been stretched the distance – three times in 14 fights – the Kyrgyzstan-born man has always looked in complete control with an array of power punches as well as technical skill. Of course we’ll all remember his fierce one-punch knockout over, admittedly over-matched, Trent Broadhurst that saw Bivol claimed champion.
Successful defences against Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba have followed – he next fights Jean Pascal on the 24th – but surely the Russian will be eying up the options for unification come the turn of the year.
Beterbiev, on the other hand, turned pro in the middle of 2013 and initially built up a strong following in Canada – the elite amateur (World Champion & runner up, two-time European champion) had moved to Montreal in order to purse his professional ambitions.
At 5 and 0 he stepped up to face Tavoris Cloud – a former IBF champion – and dealt with the threat of the American, coming off a world title loss, in convincing fashion. The momentum from this bout seemed to follow as Beterbiev looked to fight better opponents at every opportunity possible.
A refreshing attitude of “fight who’s in front of me and knock them out” has ensured success with all thirteen of his wins coming via an early stoppage. A grizzly fighter, that’s the best way to describe it, Beterbiev never looks the fastest of opponents but, boy, does he have vicious punch power.
Typically standing with his hands at shoulder level, the 33 year old stands ready to pounce and is mature enough not to go out all-guns-blazing. The IBF champion won his title against Enrico Koelling last November and, in a fight that ended in the 12th, boxed patiently and calmly to do so.
Two unbeaten Russian powerhouses, slugging it out to unify light heavyweight world titles… what more could you ask for?
Spence-Crawford And The Long Road To Nowhere
By Jake Donovan
The last time the top two welterweights in boxing happened to meet up in the same basketball arena and talk shop, it eventually resulted in the most lucrative event in the sport’s history.
Then again, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao weren’t just the best two welterweights in the world but also the best pound-for-pound and were circling each other for more than five years by the time they happened to run into each other at a Jan. ’15 Miami Heat game.
A budding rivalry has only just begun between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford, both of whom are current unbeaten welterweight titlists. They’ve exchanged pleasantries (read: insults) through social media, and for real this past Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, home to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
It made for fun immediate reaction and a slew of clickbait headlines. Just don’t expect to lead to a head-on collision anytime soon—if ever at all.
The pair of elite boxers were on hand to take in Top Rank’s ESPN-televised show. Crawford is a regular ringside observer for his promoter’s events while not headlining his own shows.
Spence—who is advised by Al Haymon and fights under the Premier Boxing Champions banner on Showtime and now Fox prime—was in the house in support of fellow Dallas boxer Maurice Hooker, who defended his 140-pound title with a spectacular 7th round stoppage of Oklahoma City’s own Alex Saucedo.
While the aforementioned title fight was the main reason for the boxing world tuning in on Friday, it gave way to a much bigger sidebar, not unlike how Mayweather and Pacquiao meeting during halftime in South Beach is far more fondly recalled than the Heat eventually losing that night to the Milwaukee Bucks.
A major development worth noting from that Jan. ’15 entry was the fact that Mayweather and Pacquiao huddled up behind closed doors after the game, talking for more than an hour about the need for their long-awaited clash to finally become reality. In stark contrast, Friday’s run-in between Spence and Crawford ended with more of the same between the two— a lot of talk, but the realization that their careers will run in separate directions.
Spence practically admitted as such, not even bothering to bite his tongue in rattling off a potential 2019 campaign that won’t—or, frankly, doesn’t need to—include Crawford. The 2012 U.S. Olympian and reigning top welterweight is currently on course to face unbeaten four-division titlist Mikey Garcia next March at AT&T Stadium, home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
With a win, the rest of Spence’s 2019 campaign—as he suggested—would put him in the ring with two more of the top welterweights on the PBC side of the street.
PBC and Fox recently rolled out their 1st quarter schedule on the free-to-air network and its regional cable affiliate FS1. Just about every welterweight of note under Haymon’s advisory banner is scheduled to appear in the first four months of 2019. Aside from Spence—who along with Garcia will headline a Pay-Per-View event for the first time in their respective careers—comes four more welterweight bouts of significance.
Keith Thurman will fight for the first time since March ’17, as he faces Josesito Lopez in late January live on Fox in primetime. A similar setting will be provided for recently crowned two-time welterweight titlist Shawn Porter, who defends versus mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas on March 9, as does an April meet between Danny Garcia—whose lone two career losses have come versus Thurman and Porter—and Adrian Granados, while Lamont Peterson and Sergey Lipinets collide in late February on FS1 with an interim title at stake.
Outside of that deal will come a January 19 superfight between Pacquiao—who earlier this fall joined the PBC family after more than a decade with Top Rank—and Adrien Broner live on Showtime PPV from Las Vegas.
The bouts being presented in such a cluster are undoubtedly designed to mix and match the winners—and possibly even several of the losing fighters—later in the year, perhaps as early as the beginning of the summer season. Spence suggested that should he and Porter win their next fights, a unification clash would immediately follow.
From there would come a pairing that would help advance Spence from rising superstar to industry leader, as he is already being groomed for a late 2019 run-in with Pacquiao, assuming the two can win out.
While the sport is available more than ever in U,S. markets thanks to lucrative deals with Showtime, Fox, ESPN and sports streaming service DAZN, the downside is that we’re getting a lot of fights but not necessarily THE biggest fights we’d like to see. The lone exception in the past couple of years came in the form of two sensational middleweight championship fights between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, yet even that pairing coming after nearly two years of talk.
Given that take, boxing fans are already clamoring for Spence and Crawford to meet sooner rather than later in lieu of history repeating itself. The sport doesn’t need another long-term Mayweather-Pacquiao soap opera, yet already has one at the heavyweight level with unbeaten titlists Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder continuing to come up with endless ways to say “No” rather than just one way to say “Yes.”
The ugly truth, however, is that Spence can afford to disappoint boxing fans by not fighting Crawford as long as Haymon can keep his word of matching his stud welterweight against the rest of PBC’s top players in the division, particularly a Pacquiao superfight.
Top Rank can’t make the same promises to its superstar. It could produce a negative public perception of Crawford despite his clearly wanting the fight far more than his counterpart.
Another reason for Crawford sitting ringside on Friday was to scout his next likely opponent. On the undercard, fellow unbeaten Top Rank-promoted welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas stopped Roberto Arriaza in three rounds to solidify his place as Crawford’s opponent. It’s a solid matchup on paper, but not one that even remotely moves the needle.
The same sad state applies for any other in-house welterweight Top Rank can summon for its top client, who just re-inked with the Las Vegas based promotional outfit earlier this fall. Crawford and his team agreeing to stick with Top Rank while fully aware that all of his top completion fights under the PBC banner is a fact that boxing fans won’t forget as long as he’s stuck settling for the Jeff Horns and Jose Benavidez’s of the world.
No matter how often he calls out Spence or any other top PBC welterweight, no matter how many in-person or social media run-ins take place, anything short of such a fight materializing will ultimately hurt the fighter who clearly wants it more.
This much wasn’t at all lost on Spence when he and Crawford decided to engage in banter that immediately made the rounds. He doesn’t care if he’s portrayed as the bad guy in any of this, when the truth is that a year from how he’ll boast the far healthier welterweight résumé no matter how he’s mixed and matched in house—and even without facing his biggest threat.
Mayweather made a very similar blueprint work in his favor, while Pacquiao would suffer two losses and eventually run out of available challenges worth arousing public interest. It’s possible that Crawford can run the tables for years, but testing the public’s—and his own—patience is not a long-term plan anyone is willing to once again embrace.
Crawford Won’t Get Spence Until……
By Rich Mancuso
The boxing fan deserve this fight as do Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.. This is asking the improbable with these obstacles of duel promotions and televised streaming rights. However a fight of this magnitude to unify portions of the welterweight titles and determine the pound-for-pound best is bound to happen.
Because it’s boxing, and the promotional fight has picked up a bit, they have to come to an agreement. Or do they?
But for this to happen there also needs to be unity with the respective promoters and of course the personnel who would be involved with networks and rights to televise this potential mega fight.
Photo Credit: Terence Crawford Twitter Account
And with boxing, a fight like this can be done. Then again it becomes a waiting game of back-and-forth and someone giving in with a late punch in the final round. With Top Rank and the PBC, obviously the main principals to deliver this also falls into the lines of boxing politics.
Boxing politics has never stopped Bob Arum and Top Rank from delivering. When the back-and-forth of politics concludes the fight is delivered. It has to be done and will be because Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. is as huge as Mayweather and Pacquiao was.
Perhaps this is bigger in magnitude because they are two champions, one with Top Rank and the other with the PBC, champions in the welterweight division. This elite division of welterweights that also generates the revenue and interest for boxing is shown in the ratings.
An this past Saturday, Terence Crawford, who could be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the business and Jose Benavidez Jr. established the highest rating boxing telecast on Broadcast and Cable television this year.
So now, it is time to deliver a fight that boxing needs. A fight that the boxing fan will demand. Delivering this fight, according to sources, and that back-and forth talk has commenced.
Moments after Crawford disposed Jose Benavidez Jr. in the final round Saturday night, his first defense of the WBO Welterweight title, Bob Arum was asked the questions. The fight boxing needs will have to wait but how long will it be?
Arum does have the leverage here because Crawford delivers the numbers for ESPN and the Hall of Fame promoter has the platform. Spence Jr. also has the numbers with Showtime and the PBC has that history of also delivering the numbers for the network seen in previous fights Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter opposing Danny Garcia for the Welterweight title.
In line with all of this, Tuesday Bob Arum made his pitch. Showtime, he said will soon be out of boxing just like HBO.
“So I’m predicting also that within the next year Showtime will be exiting from boxing because as great as they’ve been for boxing, they don’t belong,” he said. This was possibly the beginning of a bargaining point of view because Showtime is committed to continue their involvement with boxing, and the PBC continues to thrive with all the rumors to the contrary.
Arum is known to make some outrageous statements. This one, and only because he said Showtime is throwing more money into programming, does offer a line of truth. For the past few years it was HBO that lost the roster of fighters that put the network on top. But putting more of their budget into popular programs did boxing in for the network.
This is the Haves and Have Not of boxing. However, with Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. in the picture, it is about having the best fight for the boxing fan. Showtime and the PBC are moving along and so is Bob Arum and his deal with ESPN.
Just a matter of time and the fight will happen. Arum, in the meantime will go back-and-forth but is looking at other opponents for his champion. Similar to Mayweather and Pacquiao and how long it took, at some point next year this fight will be a reality.
And because this is boxing, it only works this way.
Terence Crawford: Only Wants the Champions at 147
By: Rich Mancuso
Undefeated Jose Benavidez Jr. is the next opponent for Terence Crawford next Saturday evening at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford, the three-division world champion, will defend his WBO Welterweight title for the second time. But this is not the opponent he wants in a fight that will be televised on the ESPN platforms.
Don’t get this wrong. Crawford, not one to stir the pot, is honored that Benavidez took this fight. And the home crowd will be thrilled to see their champion again. Many consider him to be either number one or two in the pound-for-pound discussion.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Not to overlook Benavidez, Crawford is very content with the promotional deal he has with Top Rank. However, in a Thursday afternoon conference call with media the names of champions such as Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Errol Spence Jr. came into the discussion. These are some of the elite fighters in the 147-pound division along with some others.
The welterweight division is the talk of boxing. Spence Jr. is known as the elite champion and always a target. With that in mind, where does Terence Crawford stand in the mix of all this? He is with Top Rank, the others with PBC and their platforms of Showtime and Fox.
“Spence, Porter, Thurman, those are the only champions,” Crawford said. “ I don’t look at the WBC Silver interim belts . I look at the actual champion in the division.”
So this is a matter, first of Crawford getting past Benavidez Jr. and then the talk about a mega fight with Spence Jr. who holds the IBF title. The issue is logistics with two major platforms of promoters and networks putting their differences aside and giving fight fans what they want.
Crawford has Top Rank in the corner. The ESPN deal with his promoter is strong and delivering what boxing fans and the sport desire. The Crawford camp is content but as everyone is aware, this is a business.
The talk has to be done at the table, and very similar to the deal that was made when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. got in the ring three years ago. Brian McIntyre, manager and trainer for Crawford wants the elite fights to be made. He made his case on the conference call.
“We want after the champions, man,” McIntyre said. “There is no reason to be fighting a No. 6 dude or a No. 7 dude. Terence wants the best fighters out there at 147.”
Top Rank president Todd duBoef was also on the conference call. McIntyre is seeking the best for his fighter and said the heat is on with Top Rank and all for the best involved.
“We’ll put the heat on him,” he said. He’s the one who makes the fights happen. He could go to ESPN and make those fights happen. Terence wants the fights to happen. Let’s go. The only fights out there is the other champions.”
They don’t want a number 7 or 8 fighter in the division, because this is about the elite fighters at 147.
To that, duBoef said, “We have said this regardless of your affiliation, we don’t care what you are ,what you do, Terence is an elite fighter. in fact elite fight, all they talk is about Terence. “We’ve done the biggest fights with all the complications. We’ve done the biggest with no complications”
But there are always complications. Venues, purse, and how two networks that are in competition can co-exist. A response from the PBC was unavailable when reached for comment.
“We’re gonna go after all those guys,” duBoef said. “We’re not allowing anything, no politics, no nothing, to get in the way. They wanna do it, we wanna do it, let’s just get it done. We’ll figure out a solution.”
Crawford, on the other hand, avoids this discussion about fighting the elite champions. He is focused on this fight next weekend and when it comes to consideration about being the Number 1 pound-for-pound, he just goes about his business. He wants to take on opponents and bypass the talk of Top 10 fighter or who is Number 1 or 2.
“Some people rate me number 1 some people rate me number 2,” Crawford said. “I can’t complain some people rate me number 2. Don’t pay attention. My main attention is Benavidez. I’m focused and ready to go next week. Keep winning in tremendous fashion.”
He added: “ I never predict a knockout. I just go in there if I see a chance for a knockout I’ll go for it. All i do is go in there and get the win. I believe he is going to come out and try and make it a fight and if he does do it we have a game plan for that as well.
However, this could be the tune-up fight towards the next one. There is time for the respective promotions and networks to stage an eventual Crawford and Spence Jr. title fight.
“Still growing up in this division,” Crawford said. “Not looking to move up. Great relationship with Top Rank. We build a lot of great memories together and built me up to where I am now. Takes me wherever I want to go.”
Benavidez Jr. sought this fight and there was no hesitation. Because Terence Crawford never ducks an opponent, and in boxing you take the opportunity as there is always a chance to pull off the unexpected. And by all means, the height and reach is something to look at with that undefeated record coming in against the champion.
But we all know, this fight is all about Terence Crawford. It’s about getting to the elite and opposing Errol Spence Jr. and soon.
Comment: Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso [email protected]
Errol Spence Shadowing the Path of Marvin Hagler
By: Kirk Jackson
As Errol Spence 24-0 (21 KO’s) progresses further into his career, the more it resembles a similar path once traveled by the legendary middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler 62-3-2 (52 KO’s).
Are far as listing similarities and drawing comparisons, there are plenty.
Comparatively from a fight stylistic standpoint, both are southpaws (albeit Hagler converted and was known as a switch hitter; a fighter skilled to switch interchangeably between southpaw to orthodox stance).
Hagler and Spence operate offensively off their stiff right jab; Hagler displayed the ability to effortlessly switch stances as mentioned earlier, but like Hagler, Spence prefers to mount his attack utilizing highly lethal, effective jabs.
Both possess impressive, Adonis-like physiques and oddly enough, both traveled to The United Kingdom to capture their first championship title.
Hagler made minced-meat out of Alan Minter over the course of four vicious rounds, while Spence comprehensibly violated Kell Brook into submission over the course of eleven rounds. Spence was 27-years-old at the time while Hagler was a year younger aged 26 years-old.
Like Hagler, Spence aims to transcend into boxing super stardom by facing another highly coveted, pound-for-pound fighter moving up in weight.
For Hagler, his dancing partner thrusting him into the realm of super-stardom was Roberto Duran.
Duran, initially dominating the lightweight division with hands of stone, climbed through the welterweight division, eventually reaching the mantle at middleweight to battle Hagler for middleweight supremacy.
Hagler soundly defeated Duran in an entertaining, competitive affair, securing his spot as one of boxing best fighters and biggest attractions.
Hagler’s victory over Duran led to greener pastures, as his star shined brighter and he capitalized eventually securing fights against Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Mikey Garcia 39-0 (30 KO’s) is to Errol Spence as Duran was to Hagler.
And again, this is not a direct comparison of styles for each fighter, although we can draw similar comparisons for each fighter listed in this formula.
Whether it’s the traits of timing, mastery of range and distance, overall toughness and business-like demeanor, this is more of a comparison of situations and possible trajectory.
If not no. 1 on any given pound-for-pound list, Garcia is certainly in the discussion – just as Duran in his heyday.
Garcia has five world titles across four weight classes in seven championship fights. Like Duran, Garcia aims to move up in weight for greater challenges.
“There’s no one else that excites me enough, that motivates me and that can challenge me other than Errol Spence, and I’m willing to take that challenge, all the way up, because that’s the fight that will motivate me the most,” said Garcia at the post-fight press conference in his win over Robert Easter.
“I’m here to challenge myself. He is the best. He might feel that it’s an easy fight for him, that I’m too small, and that’s fine. Let’s get in the ring and let’s go to work.”
The emerging Spence recognizes too, facing Garcia could help build his brand among Hispanic boxing fans who strongly support Garcia.
“This definitely would help my fan base,” Spence said, “and help me grow as a superstar in the sport.”
It’s certainly a page borrowed from another boxing great and mentor figure to Spence, Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather offered his perspective regarding the potential match-up between Garcia and Spence to Fight Hype.
“You have to respect Mikey Garcia for wanting to test his skills against the best guys out there,” stated Mayweather.
“You can’t fault him [Garcia] for doing it, you can’t overlook Mikey Garcia in a fight with Errol Spence. Errol Spence can fight his ass off, it’s a good match-up. Spence he’s tough, he’s strong, he can bang.”
Aside from Garcia, Spence has other lucrative options on the horizon – his potential Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Spence can potentially face the winner of Danny Garcia 34-1 (20 KO’s) and Shawn Porter 28-2-1 (17 KO’s) as they finally meet in September. Amir Khan 32-4 (20 KO’s) is still a name in the welterweight division and of course there is the ever-elusive Keith Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s).
The former unified WBC and WBA welterweight champion is still recovering from injury and aims to return at some point in 2018.
A meeting between Spence and Thurman may not take place until 2019 if at all, while another emerging combatant apparently usurped Thurman as far as desired match-ups amongst boxing fans.
The fighter Spence appears fated to face, also drawing comparisons to the legendary Marvelous Marvin Hagler for his switch hitter abilities, overall grit and menacing demeanor, is none other than Terence Crawford 33-0 (24 KO’s).
Crawford is a six-time world champion across three weight classes and like Spence, aims to unify the welterweight division as he did at junior welterweight last year.
Anticipation amongst fans, media and other fighter’s alike continues to build in hopes of witnessing these two prized pugilists meet up in what envisions to be a showdown of epic proportions.
Will Crawford rival Spence as Leonard rivaled Hagler back in the 1970’s and 1980’s?
While that particular plot is yet to be determined, it’ll be interesting watching how the path of Errol Spence continues to unfold.
“I wanna be considered as an all-time great,” says Spence, in reference to his goals as a professional fighter.
“I wanna be mentioned with the likes of ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, Ali and Ray Robinson, Floyd Mayweather. I wanna be mentioned along with those greats. And I know in order to do that, I have to fight the best fighters out there and keep getting titles. Hopefully, I can be undisputed welterweight champion.”
Like Hagler and other phenomenal fighters of yesteryear, Spence is treading along the same path previously molded before him.
Don’t Hold Your Breath on Crawford vs Spence
By Eric Lunger
Errol Spence, Jr. took care of business on Saturday night, dispatching Carlos Ocampo (22-1, 13 KOs) with a vicious body assault in round one. It was as clinical as it was ferocious. The fight marked a return to the Lone Star state for Spence (24-0, 21KOs), who had not fought in his home state since 2014. The fight, or more precisely, the choice of opponent, took some heat in the boxing media. Ocampo is a good fighter, a professional with an undefeated record, and certainly Spence is entitled to make some money by putting on a card for his home fans. Nothing wrong with that. And, to be fair, Ocampo was the IBF mandatory – whether he should have been is a more fraught question. Nonetheless, with a successful first defense under his belt, Spence (and his fans) have to be wondering who is next.
Photo Credit: Errol Spence Jr. Twitter Account
Let’s start with the WBA champion Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs). The rugged Argentine is scheduled to take on perennial champion and fan-favorite Manny Pacquiao (59-7, 38 KOs) in July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While that fight may appeal to certain fans, it is hard to see Spence wanting to face the winner of that bout, and it is even harder to see it making much sense financially. No disrespect to the Matthysse and Pac Man, both of whom I have enjoyed watching over the years, but they are on the down slope of their careers.
With the WBC belt vacant, the only other unification possibility is against the newly minted WBO champ Terrence “Bud” Crawford (RECORD). For obvious reasons, this is the fight that fans want to see. Both guys are young, dynamic, extremely skilled with sound (almost perfect) fundamentals, and both can hit that mean switch in the ring. It would be an incredible fight, no question. But this is boxing, and, as a veteran of the promotional side of the game once explained to me, if the fans (rather than promoters) made the matchups, we would have a different slate of fights.
Simply put, it is difficult to imagine Top Rank (Crawford) and PBC (Spence) willing to risk their fighters’s value when there are so many other fights to make, and when there is so much more value down the road. I hate the term “marinating” when applied to boxing, but here waiting makes more sense. And it is not like there aren’t other big names in the division: Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Jessie Vargas, to name a few.
Asked whether unification with a big-name welterweight was realistic as his next fight, Spence had this to say in the press conference after the Ocampo bout: “I’ll probably fight again later this year. The unification fight with Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia is definitely going to happen [in August],” implying that Spence is weighing the possibility of facing the winner. So, while indicating he will fight once more before a taking on a top name, Spence went on to note that a fight with Keith Thurman was a distinct possibility: “We got Keith Thurman coming back this year – that’s a fight I can have, we can make that. Same manager, same network. It’s an easy fight to make.” Spence again re-iterated that he wants a serious challenge: “I want big names, Jessie Vargas would be [on the list].”
Will Spence and Crawford ever climb into the ring together? Fans want to see it, but it may be a long time coming.
Showtime Boxing Results: Spence Makes Quick Work of Ocampo, Roman Defeats Flores
By: William Holmes
Errol Spence Jr., the man many consider to be the top welterweight in the world, returned to his home state of Texas in Frisco at the Ford Center to defend his IBF Welterweight Title against his mandatory challenger. The Dallas Cowboys Organization strongly supported Errol Spence’s return to his hometown.
The opening bout of the night was between Javier Fortuna (33-2-1) and Adrian Granados (18-6-2) in the super lightweight division.
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
Fortuna was former champion in the super featherweight division and is fighting up to two weight classes higher than he normally does. Granados had both a reach and height advantage and it was obvious in the ring.
Grandaos was on the attack early on and landing shots to the body. Fortuna was sharp with his straight left hands and was landing the cleaner shots early on. Fortuna continued to land the cleaner punches in the second round but Granados was using his size to push around Fortuna.
Granados had a good third round and again was using his size to his advantage. Fortuna lost two points this fight for holding, but those points may have been taken away too early.
The fight came to a sudden end in the fourth round when Fortuna was pushed out the ring in between the ropes and may have hit his head on the ring steps on equipment outside. They had to place his neck in a brace and get a stretcher to take him to be evaluated.
The official result of the fight was a no decision due to a fighter getting hurt before the end of the fourth round. The fight was stopped at 2:50 of the fourth round.
The next bout of the night was between Daniel Roman (24-2-1) and Moises Flores (25-0) for the WBA Super Bantamweight Title.
Flores came in overweight at the weigh ins and looked like the significantly bigger man in the ring. Flores was swinging wildly and wide early on and Roman appeared to be more settled. Roman highlighted the opening round with a good lead right hand left uppercut combination.
Roman was focusing to the body for most of the fight and was doubling his left hooks and uppercuts in the second and third round.
Flores kept coming forward in the fourth and fifth rounds, but Roman’s counters were finding his target while he was able to side step around his oncoming opponent. Most of Flores punches bounced off the shoulders and guard of Roman in the sixth round, but he had a good seventh round and may have stolen it.
By the ninth round both boxers had thrown over 1000 punches combined but Roman was landing at a higher clip Roman was lighter on his feet in the tenth round and his body shots had slowed Flores down tremendously.
Flores needed a knockout in the final round to pull out a victory, but he didn’t have enough energy to seriously threaten Roman.
The final scores were 116-112, 118-110, and 120-108 for Danny Roman.
The main event of the evening was between Errol Spence Jr. (23-0) and Carlos Ocampo (22-0) for the IBF Welterweight Title.
This was the first world title fight for Ocampo against the highly talented southpaw Errol Spence. Spence slowly inched forward in the opening stanza and took some surprisingly good body shots from Ocampo. Spence was able to land a good straight left to the chin of Ocampo that slowed him down momentarily, but Ocampo was making a good showing of himself early on.
With time running out in the first Errol Spence landed two blistering hooks to the body of Ocampo that immediately dropped him to his knees.
Ocampo was unable to get up before the count of ten.
Errol Spence wins by knockout with one second left in the first round.
Showtime Boxing Preview: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Carlos Ocampo, Roman vs. Flores
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Errol Spence Jr., a man many consider to be the world’s top welterweight and one of the world’s best pound for pound fighters, will be making his mandatory defense of his IBF Welterweight title against Carlos Ocampo. Spence will be returning to his home state of Texas to make his title defense.
This fight card will take place at the Dallas Ford Center.
The co-feature of the evening will be a WBA Junior Featherweight bout between Danny Roman and Moises Flores. Other prospects will also be appearing on the undercard including former world champion Javier Fortuna, Yordenis Ugas, Roberto Marroquin, and Stephen “Scooter” Fulton.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions Twitter Account
The following is a preview of the televised fights.
Danny Roman (24-2-1) vs. Moises Flores (25-0); WBA Junior Featherweight Title
The opening bout of the night is between Danny Roman and Moises Flores for the WBA Junior Featherweight Title.
Roman is twenty eight years old and three years younger than his opponent, but will be giving up three and a half inches in height and an inch and a half in reach. Roman is also the lesser puncher of the two. Flores has seventeen stoppages in his career compared to the nine stoppages that Roman has.
Neither boxer has a notable amateur career to discuss.
Roman has been more active than Flores. He fought once in 2018, twice in 2017, and four times in 2016. Flores only fought once in 2017, and one round at that against Guillermo Rigondeaux, and once in 2016.
Flores lone blemish on his record was a no contest against Guillermo Rigondeaux, but he was getting badly beaten at the time and the referee actually originally ruled it a stoppage victory for Rigondeaux before it was later reviewed and ruled a no contest due to punches landing after the final bell. Flores has beaten the likes of Paulus Ambunda, Luis Cusolito, and Oscar Escandon.
Roman had to travel to Japan to win the WBA title. He has defeated the likes of Ryo Matsumoto, Shun Kubo, Adam Lopez, and Christian Esquivel.
Flores long layoff, which includes a very brief encounter with Guillermo Rigondeaux, will hurt him against a younger opponent. Roman isn’t known for his power, but his last loss was on 2013 and he has won sixteen fights in a row.
Roman likely won’t win by stoppage, but he should win a decision.
Errol Spence Jr. (23-0) vs. Carlos Ocampo (22-0), IBF Welterweight Title
Errol Spence is one of the top stars in the welterweight division and has held the IBF title since his thrashing of Kell Brook in May of 2017.
He’s looking for a big fight and a matchup with either Terrance Crawford or Keith Thurman is a fight that most fight fans are looking forward to. However, he first has to take on his mandatory challenger, on paper a clearly overmatched Carlos Ocampo.
Spence is a tall, rangy southpaw, and is in the midst of his prime at 28 years old. Ocampo has been relatively unchallenged as a professional and is only 22 years old.
Spence had a highly successful amateur career and competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Ocampo experienced some success on the Mexican amateur circuit, but not on world circuit.
Spence also has the edge in power. He has twenty stoppages on his record, including ten wins in a row. Ocampo only has thirteen stoppages to his record, and only has one stoppage win in his past four fights.
Spence has beaten the likes of Lamont Peterson, Kell Brook, Leonard Bundu, Chris Algieri, Chris Van Heerden, Phil Lo Greco, and Ronald Cruz. Spence fought once in 2018, once in 2017, and twice in 2016.
Ocampo’s biggest victories to date were over Jorge Paez Jr. and Charlie Navarro. He has never fought outside of Mexico. He fought twice in 2017 and three times in 2016.
Spence should win this bout relatively easily, and will likely get another stoppage victory.
Is the Welterweight Division the Strongest in Boxing?
By: Ken Hissner
The welterweight division is packed with talented boxers and mentioned as the toughest division in boxing. The WBA Super World and WBC champion is Keith “One Time” Thurman, 28-0 (22), of Clearwater, FL, who defeated Shawn “Showtime” Porter, 28-2-1 (17), of Las Vegas, NV, in June of 2016. Thurman is scheduled to defend his title May 19th at the Barclay Center, in Brooklyn, NY, with an opponent to be named. Thurman hasn’t fought since March of 2017. Porter won the WBC Silver title in November 2017. He also lost to Kell Brook, of the UK. He entered the ring over the weekend barking at Garcia who had just defeated Brandon Rios. He had to be escorted out of the ring.
Devon Alexander “The Great”, 27-4-1 (14), of St. Louis lost his IBF title to Porter in December of 2013. He drew with the former WBC champion Victor Ortiz, 32-6-3 (25), of Ventura, CA, this past weekend and was robbed. Porter lost it to Kell Brook, of the UK, in August of 2014. Brook lost it to Errol Spence, Jr. in May of 2017 and hasn’t fought since and dropped out of the ratings. Spence still holds the title and is 23-0 (20), of DeSoto, TX, and in his once defense he stopped Lamont Peterson, 35-4-1, in January of 2018 who is no longer in the ratings. Spence is scheduled to defend his title on June 16th in Dallas, TX, with an opponent to be announced.
Lucas “La Maquina,” Matthysse, 39-4 (36), of Argentina won the WBA World title stopping Tewa Kiram, 38-1, of Thailand, in January of 2018, and Kiram is no longer in the ratings. Matthysse lost to Danny “Swift” Garica in 2013 at Super Lightweight.
Garcia, 34-1 (17), of Philadelphia, PA, lost his WBC title to Thurman in March of 2017. He just had his first fight since then stopping the former WBA Lightweight champion Brandon Rios, 34-4-1, this past weekend. Garcia was asked afterwards if he wanted a rematch with Thurman and he said “that’s up to him.” Garcia is No. 2 in the WBC and No. 1 in the WBA.
The WBO champion is Australia’s Jeff “The Hornet” Horn, 18-0-1 (12), who won the title on a gift decision over former world champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, 59-7-2 (38), of the Philippines in July of 2017. Horn must fight his No. 1 contender Terence “Bud” Crawford, 32-0 (23), of Omaha, NEB, who held the four organization title at Super Lightweight and is having his first welterweight fight. That is scheduled for April 14th in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao is ranked No. 3 by the WBC and No. 2 by both the WBA and WBO. He is scheduled to fight Mike Alvarado, 38-4 (26), of Thornton, CO, April 14th in Las Vegas. The IBF’s No. 1 and No. 2 slots are vacant. Cuban Yordenis Ugas, 21-3 (10), of Miami, FL, who is No. 14 and stopped No. 11 “The New” Ray Robinson, 24-3, of Philadelphia, PA, over the weekend with the winner promised the No. 2 spot.
The No. 3 spot in the IBF is held by Carlos “Chema” Ocampo, 22-0 (13), of Baja CA, Mexico, who has never fought outside of Mexico. He has not defeated anyone of record but still has that high rating. Either Ugas or Ocampo may get that title shot at Spence.
Jesse “The Pride of Las Vegas” Vargas, 28-2 (10), of Las Vegas, NV, is No. 3 in the WBA and No. 4 in both the WBC and IBF. He lost to Pacquiao in November of 2016. Vargas outgrew his WBA Super Lightweight title after his November 2014 defense and has gone 2-2 since.
The UK’s British champion Bradley Skeete, 27-1 (12), is the WBO No. 3 and IBF No. 5 contender. He hasn’t fought since July of 2017. Another unbeaten contender is Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, 32-0 (13), living in Big Bear, CA, ranked No. 9 in the IBF and No. 8 in the WBC.
So, to summarize the situation in the welterweight division both WBC and WBA champion Thurman and IBF champion Spence, Jr. have defenses scheduled without opponents at this time. Horn will be meeting Crawford who is heavily favored to take that title. Thurman may be fighting his No. 1 contender Porter. Spence could fight Ugas, Ocampo or Vargas. The division is wide open for some great fights!
Errol Spence, Jr. & Robert Easter Win in New York’s Barclay Center
By: Ken Hissner
At the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY, Saturday over Showtime Boxing and PBC, two IBF World champions were featured and promoted by DiBella Entertainment.
IBF Welterweight champion and former Olympian southpaw “The Truth” Errol Spence, Jr., 23-0 (20), of Dallas, TX, stopped former IBF World, WBA Super World Super Lightweight champion and WBA Super World welterweight champion now No. 5 contender Lamont “Havoc” Peterson, 35-4-1 (17), of D.C., who was returning after an eleven month of inactivity, at the end of the seventh round.
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
In the first round after half a minute Spence landed a chopping left hand to the chin of Peterson. Spence goes to the body and head with Peterson standing right in front of him defense minded. It was a lopsided round for Spence. In the second round Peterson countered a right hook by Spence to a left to the body. Spence landed a 3-punch combination hurting Peterson with a minute left in the round. Peterson landed his best punch of the round a left hook to the head of Spence with half a minute left in the round.
In the third round Spence started with a right hook and overhand left to the chin of Peterson. Spence continues landing good body shots. Peterson landed left hooks to the head of Spence who complained they were behind the head. Just prior to the bell Spence landed a straight left to the head of Peterson who countered with a left hook to the head of Spence. In the fourth round top Referee Harvey Dock warned Spence of landing a low blow. Peterson and Spence take turns being the aggressor. Spence kept using combinations well. Peterson landed a good right hand countered by a Spence left.
In the fifth round Peterson came charging out landing several punches hand from Spence to the side of the head dropped Peterson. Under a minute left in the round and Spence landed half a dozen punches without return from Peterson. The last 30 seconds both boxers went at it throwing punches.
In the sixth round a lead left from Peterson landed through the defense of Peterson. Spence landed a 3-punch combination. Peterson’s best punch has been a left hook. Peterson started back pedaling for the first time in the fight with a minute left. Peterson’s left eye under the eye brow started swelling. His corner took a good look and didn’t like what they were seeing. The ring physician came in to take a look at that eye.
In the seventh round Spence came out looking for a knockout landing many more punches than the back pedaling Peterson. It was a big round for Spence. The corner of Peterson stopped the fight before the round started in the eighth round.
Julie Lederman, Don Trella and Steve Weisfeld were the judges. This writer had it 70-62 at the end.
“I want to thank Lamont Peterson for taking this fight while others turned it down. He is a tough fighter who still wanted to continue at the end. You are going to see an improved fighter every time I enter the ring. Keith Thurman has to get in there with me,” said Spence. “I don’t question my trainer (Barry Hunter) when he stopped the fight. Spence is the best fighter I have met,” said Peterson.
IBF Lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr., 21-0 (14), of Toledo, OH, defeated the former WBA Super Featherweight champion and now No. 13 contender southpaw Dominican Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna, 31-2-1 ??? of Braintree, MASS, by split decision in a non-title bout due to Fortuna being over weight.
In the first round used his height advantage using an effective jab and lead right hands to the chin of Fortuna. At the halfway mark Fortuna missed three punches but landed the fourth with a left uppercut to the chin of Easter. In the second round Fortuna held Easter behind the neck while hitting with the left hand three times. Referee Ricky Gonzalez was yelling “stop, stop, stop” instead of getting in quick enough to break them up. Shortly later with Easter‘s head through the ropes Fortuna hit him which cost him a point by Referee Gonzalez who once again got there too late. Easter kept the pressure on Fortuna backing him into the corner landed a good left hook.
In the third round Easter backed Fortuna into the ropes landing a solid right to the chin of Fortuna. Fortuna came back landing solid left hands and roughing up Easter in a close round. In the fourth round it was another close one with Easter pulling it out while Fortuna does too much holding. In the fifth round Easter had Fortuna against the ropes landing a flurry of punches primarily left hooks to the head.
In the sixth round Fortuna did a step around landing a good right hook to the head of Easter. Fortuna continues his dirty tactics of holding and pulling down Easter’s head then leaning on him. Easter landed a long right hand to the chin but Fortuna landed a counter left hand to the chin rocking Easter.
In the seventh round both boxers were talking to one another to “come on!” Easter clearly took the round. In the eighth round Easter used his jab and reach more than at anytime in the fight keeping Fortuna at bay. It was a big round for Easter.
In the ninth round Easter continued out working Fortuna. Easter landing nice lead jabs to the chin of Fortuna. When Easter comes in low that is when Fortuna pulls his head down and ties him up. In the tenth round both let loose with punches at the start of the round unlike previously in the bout. Fortuna lands a good body shot which there was very little of during the fight by both boxers. While on the ropes it was Fortuna out working Easter right up until the bell.
In the eleventh round it continued to have Fortuna on the ropes but landing well. Coming in over weight may be the reason for the back pedaling Fortuna to spend so much time on the ropes. Fortuna came forward and landed a combination that seemed to surprise Easter. Both had words at the bell. Fortuna may have pulled out the round.
In the twelfth and final round inside of the first round Easter rocked Fortuna with a left hook to the chin. Halfway through the final round Fortuna is back pedaling instead of throwing punches. Fortuna continues to come in roughing up Easter inside. Whenever Easter comes in low he gets tied up. Referee Gonzalez warned him about coming in with his head.
Judge Glenn Feldman scored it 114-113 for Easter, John McKaie 114-113 for Fortuna and Kevin Morgan 115-112 for Easter. This writer had it 116-111 Easter.
The best Ring Announcer in the business “It’s Showtime” Jimmy Lennon, Jr. did his usual great job. Fortuna did much too much holding to have won the fight. For some reason Showtime announced future fights on their network along with two of them that have been cancelled in the Danny Garcia fight and the Mikey Garcia fight with their opponents pulling out with injuries.
Light Heavyweight southpaw “Sir” Marcus Browne, 21-0 (15), of Staten Island, NY, stopped Francy Ntetu, 17-2 (4), of Congo and CAN, at 2:15 of the first round.
Heavyweight Adam Kownacki, 17-0 (14), of Lomza, POL, and Brooklyn, NY, stopped Iago Kiladze, 26-2 (18), of Sachkere, GEO, at 2:48 of the sixth round.
Anthony Peterson, 38-1 (24), of Memphis, TN, shut out Columbia’s Louis Eduardo Florez, 23-9 (19) over 10 rounds.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson, Robert Easter Jr., vs. Javier Fortuna
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions will televise one of the first big fights of 2018 on the Showtime Network.
Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. will defend his IBF Welterweight Title against the entertaining and always tough Lamont Peterson in the main event of the night. The co-main event will be between Robert Easter Jr. and Javier Fortuna for the IBF Lightweight Title.
Photo Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime
Errol Spence has been calling out all the top welterweights and Lamont Peterson is one of the few to answer his call. A victory for either could lead to a welterweight unification fight with Keith Thurman.
The following is a preview of both televised world title bouts.
Robert Easter Jr. (20-0) vs. Javier Fortuna (33-1-1); IBF Lightweight Title
This bout was supposed to be for the IBF Lightweight Title, but Javier Fortuna came in at 136.8lbs during the weigh ins and had two hours to lose the two pounds for fight for the belt. It appeared unlikely that he will make it.
Easter is twenty six years old and two years younger than Fortuna. He will also have a very large five inch height advantage and a seven and a half inch reach advantage.
Both boxers had a successful amateur career, but Easter was able to become an Olympic alternate for the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Fortuna has the edge in power. He has stopped twenty three of his opponents while Robert Easter only stopped fourteen of his opponents. Easter has been fairly active and fought twice in 2017 and twice in 2016. Fortuna was able to fight twice in 2017 and three times in 2016.
Fortuna has spent most of his career fighting in the super featherweight division so size will be an issue for him. His lone loss was a shocking TKO loss to Jason Sosa in Beijing in June of 2016. He has defeated the likes of Omar Douglas, Marlyn Cabrera, Carlos Velasquez, Bryan Vasquez, Patrick Hyland, Yuandale Evans, and Abner Cotto.
Easter has never tasted defeat as a professional but won a close bout against Denis Shafikov in his last bout. He has defeated the likes of Luis Cruz, Richard Commey, Argenis Mendez, and Juan Solis.
The fact that Fortuna failed to make weight his first time on the scale is concerning, especially since he’s used to competing at a lighter weight class. Robert Easter’s size and reach advantage will be too much for Fortuna to overcome.
Errol Spence Jr. (22-0) vs. Lamont Peterson (35-3-1); IBF Welterweight Title
Errol “The Truth” Spence is one of the welterweight division’s biggest stars. Many consider him to be the next kingpin of the division post Pacquiao and Mayweather. His opponent, Lamont Peterson, is always in a good fight but this may be his last chance at a world title.
Spence is in the middle of his athletic prime at twenty seven and is six years older than Lamont Peterson. They have the same reach and Spence will have a slight one inch reach advantage on Peterson.
Spence has the edge in power and speed. He has stopped nineteen of his opponents, and is currently riding a nine fight stoppage streak. Peterson has only stopped seventeen of his opponents, and only one stoppage victory in his past five fights.
Peterson was a national golden gloves champion and experienced moderate success on the world stage as an amateur. Spence was also a national golden gloves champion, but he also was a member of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Spence has looked sensational recently, but only competed once in 2017 and twice in 2016. He has defeated the likes of Kell Brook, Leonard Bundu, Chris Algieri, Chris Van Heerden, Phil Lo Greco, and Ronald Cruz.
Peterson has not been so active and fought once in 2017 and twice in 2015. He has defeated the likes of David Avanesyan, Felix Diaz, Dierry Jean, Kendall Holt, and Amir Khan. His losses were to Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, and Timothy Bradley Jr.
Peterson’s biggest issue is his consistency. When he’s aggressive to the body he looks, at times, unstoppable. But as evident in his fight with Danny Garcia, he can be a slow starter and that often hurts him on the scorecards.
Peterson was impressed with Spence’s victory against Kell Brook. “”Errol even taking the Kell Brook fight was impressive to me. Most guys in his position take their time leading up to the first title shot, but he ended up fighting someone in his prime in his country. To will himself to that win was very impressive.”
Spence has looked untouchable and was very impressive in his fight against Kell Brook, in Kell Brook’s backyard.
Even Spence appears to know Peterson is a real challenge. He stated, “”I think it’s going to turn into a war. A lot of people have thought this would be an easy fight for me. But if you follow Lamont Peterson, you know this will be tough. He’s always in great shape and has a lot of skills. IT might be a dog fight and that’s what I wanted. He’s the guy who wanted to fight and I said of course. It’s going to be a rugged fight. Later on in the fights, he always gets rough and stands toe-to-toe.”
Even if Peterson is fighting at his best for all twelve rounds, it’s hard to imagine him beating Errol Spence.
How Good is Errol Spence, Jr.?
By Eric Lunger
Errol Spence, Jr. is a three-time amateur national champion. He was a 2012 Olympian reaching the quarter finals in the welterweight division. Turning professional seven years ago, he is undefeated in twenty-two fights and has scored nineteen KOs. He is ranked number eight in the world in Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound list, and number two at welterweight.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions
These are impressive facts, but to gauge how good Errol Spence, Jr. is, we have to go back to May of last year, when he traveled to Sheffield, England, to face the experienced IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs). Spence took home the belt, stopping the British champion in the eleventh round, and showed a mature mastery of all areas of the sweet science.
Despite a thunderous home crowd and massive stage, Spence was calm and poised, relaxed even. His ring IQ is so high that he always seems to anticipate what his opponent is going to do. No movement wasted, everything under control – Errol looked at times like he was sparring in his home gym, not facing one of the best welterweights in a hostile stadium.
Here are some of his strengths. Spence has quick and precise footwork, which in turn means he can control the distance from which he fights and the style in which he fights. He is a southpaw with an excellent jab, and behind that jab is world-class hand speed and punching accuracy. Spence’s defense is also highly technical, utilizing a high guard from which he can counter punch effectively.
Spence is rightly known for being one of the best body punchers in the division, and it showed in the Brook fight. He was also able to switch styles at ease, sometimes fighting on his back foot and countering, sometimes walking Brook down, and sometimes getting inside and fighting in the phone booth. Spence also showed excellent conditioning and pacing in the Brook fight, hitting a new and higher gear in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh rounds, a gear that the Sheffield fighter could not match.
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect fighter. Where is Spence vulnerable? Maybe against a more athletic puncher – like Thurman, or even Peterson – Spence’s technical skills could be nullified. Peterson might need to get inside, lean on Spence, muscle him, in order to get the younger man off his game. Brook had some success leaning on Spence, holding and wearing him out, and working the body. In short, turning the fight into a brawl rather than a boxing match might be one way (the only way?) to negate Spence’s skill level.
Spence has never been in real trouble and had to fight his way out. He has never been on the canvas as a professional. The flipside of Spence’s poise and calm in the ring is that he can get casual and too comfortable, as he did in the sixth round of the Brook fight, where Brook caught the American and put him in momentary difficulty.
Then there are the intangibles: focus, resilience, drive, mental preparation, late-round confidence. Nothing in Spence’s career so far has shown that he has anything less than the highest ability in all these categories. Errol Spence, Jr. is an elite-level boxer and a world champion. How good can he be? He will take another step toward that answer this Saturday night against Lamont Peterson, live on Showtime starting at 9:00 PM.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Peterson, Spence, Diaz, Derevyanchenko, Davtaev, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of January 9th to January 16th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Patrice Harris
Joseph Diaz to Defend NABO Featherweight Title Against Victor Terrazas
Golden Boy Promotions will continue its partnership with ESPN for this exciting new year with an explosive main event featuring 126-pound contender Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, Jr. (25-0, 13 KOs) defending his NABO Featherweight Title against former world champion Victor “Vikingo” Terrazas (38-4-2, 21 KOs) on the Feb. 22 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino inIndio, Calif.Doors to the Special Events Center open at 5:00 p.m. PT, and the first non-televised bout starts at 5:30 p.m. PT. ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will transmit the fights beginning at 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT, and the ESPN3 transmission will begin at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.
Diaz Jr., a 25-year-old prodigy of South El Monte, Calif., was an exceptional amateur prospect who was part of the 2012 United States Olympic Team. After making his debut with Golden Boy Promotions in December 2012 at the now-defunct LA Sports Arena, Diaz, Jr. climbed the 126-pound rankings defeating one tough opponent after another. Diaz, Jr. had a great 2017 as he participated in two Pay-Per-View events. In the HBO-televised undercard of Canelo vs. Chavez, Jr., Diaz, Jr. cruised to a 10-round unanimous decision victory against the previously undefeated Manuel “Tino” Avila. Diaz, Jr. then defeated Rafael “Bing Bang” Rivera via dominant 12-round decision in the co-main event of the historic Canelo vs. Golovkin HBO pay-per-view event. Diaz, Jr. will look to continue his path to a world title with a win on Feb. 22.
“I look forward to making my 2018 debut,” said Diaz, Jr. “And what better way than by facing a tough former world champion in Victor Terrazas! I will remind everyone why I deserve a world title shot by headlining this card exciting fashion.”
Terrazas, a 34-year-old native of Jalisco, Mexico, is a former world champion who defeated Cristian “El Diamante” Mijares to capture the WBC Super Bantamweight Title. Terrazas, a student of the traditional Mexican school of boxing, has fought fighters at a world championship level from different parts of the world, and will bring years of fighting experience into his fight against Diaz, Jr.
“I have faced great fighters in my career,” said Terrazas. “And this fight against Joseph Diaz, Jr. will not be an exception. I think that my experience will be very important, and I have no doubts that I will leave with my hand raised.”
Vergil Ortiz, Jr. (8-0, 8 KOs), a super lightweight prospect who has delighted fans with his tremendous knockout power, will return in the eight-round co-main event. After debuting as a professional in 2016, Ortiz, Jr. has never heard the final bell of a bout, and he’s anxious to retain his 100% knockout rate in the year 2018. One must definitely not lose sight of this sensational Mexican American who has his roots in Michoacan, Mexico.
The explosive undercard will be stacked with the best and brightest prospects of the exclusive Golden Boy Promotions stable. Lightweight knockout artist Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez (18-1, 15 KOs) will make his highly anticipated ring return over a scheduled eight rounds of action in his Fantasy Springs Resort Casino debut. Gonzalez is a hard-hitting prospect who is coming off two spectacular wins, the last of which was against Gamaliel “El Platano” Diaz.
Manny “Chato” Robles III (14-0, 6 KOs), after making his headlining debut in Sept. of 2017, will square off in an eight-round featherweight fight. Power punching prospect Edgar “Kid Neza” Valerio (10-0, 7 KOs) of Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl by way of South Central, Los Angeles, California will start the year off with a bang in an eight-round battle in the 126-pound division.
Hector “El Finito” Tanajara, Jr.(11-0, 4 KOs) of San Antonio, Texas will open the evening of very exciting combats in an eight-round super featherweight fight. In the night’s swing bout, Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (6-0, 4 KOs) will participate in a six-round lightweight fight.
Opponents for these exciting, rising prospects will be announced shortly.
Sergey Derevyanchenko Highlights Spence vs. Peterson Undercard
Unbeaten middleweight contender and IBF No. 1 challenger Sergey Derevyanchenko (11-0, 9 KOs, WSB: 23-1, 7 KOs) will enter the ring for an eight-round bout as part of an exciting undercard on Saturday, January 20 from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING®.
The Premier Boxing Champions event is headlined by welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr. taking on two-division champion Lamont Peterson live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). Lightweight world champion Robert Easter squares up against two-division champion Javier Fortuna. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP telecast will be available in Spanish via secondary audio programming (SAP).
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions, are priced starting at $50, and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com, at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center or by calling 800-745-3000. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
Additional action inside of the arena will see the brother of Lamont Peterson, once-beaten Anthony Peterson (37-1, 24 KOs), facing Luis Florez (23-7, 19 KOs) in a 10-round super lightweight matchup plus once-beaten welterweight Ivan Golub (13-1, 11 KOs) in an eight-round fight against Colombia’s Fidel Monterrosa (38-14-1, 30 KOs).
Undercard fights continue with undefeated 2016 Haitian Olympian Richardson Hitchins (3-0, 1 KO) entering the ring for a four-round welterweight fight against Preston Wilson (4-2-1, 3 KOs), Philadelphia’s Dylan Price (4-0, 4 KOs) competing in a four-round super flyweight bout against Nestor Ramos (7-7, 3 KOs) and welterweight prospect Keyshawn Williams (1-0, 1 KO) taking on Denis Okoth (1-0, 1 KO) in a four-round matchup.
Rounding out the night is a four-round showdown between unbeaten Desmond Jarmon and Dallas-native Charles Clark plus New Jersey’s Matthew Gonzalez in a six round middleweight fight against Alexander Serna.
A highly decorated amateur who represented his native Ukraine in the 2008 Olympics, Derevyanchenko now lives and trains in Brooklyn and most recently earned the top spot in the IBF rankings with an impressive 12th round stoppage over Tureano Johnson. The 32-year-old also defeated previously unbeaten Kemahl Russell in 2017 after his 2016 saw him earn a TKO victory over Mike Guy in March before stopping former champion Sam Soliman in the second round of a world title eliminator in July. The unbeaten fighter defeated a slew of experienced contenders in 2015 with wins over Elvin Ayala, Alan Campa, Vladine Biosse and a third-round stoppage of Jessie Nicklow.
Derevyanchenko and Golub make it a pair of Ukrainian sluggers fighting out of Brooklyn who will compete on the undercard looking to put on impressive performances in their adopted hometown.
Russian Heavyweight Apti Davtaev Remains Undefeated
Several entertaining fights highlighted the untelevised undercard for two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields defense of her WBC and IBF titles against mandatory challenger Tori Nelson at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York tonight.
In the main supporting bout, Detroit via Kurchaloi, Russia, heavyweight Apti Davtaev had a successful United States fighting debut by scoring a six-round unanimous decision over Philadelphia’s Garrett “The Ultimate Warrior” Wilson.
Wilson didn’t make it easy. Fighting out of a crouch, the heavily muscled, but much shorter Wilson came up with enough wild haymakers to make the entire fight very interesting. Davtaev appears to have a heavy right hand, which he dropped onto the hard head of Wilson often enough to earn the close, but deserved nod. Davtaev warrants credit for going to war whenever one of Wilson’s looping swings connected.
Davtaev (now 14-0-1, 13 KOs) loses his perfect KO percentage, but walks away with a hard-fought victory over a foe who came to win. Wilson is now (18-14-1, 9 KOs).
The scores were 58-56 from all three judges.
An accidental headbutt brought an abbreviated end to the six-round super lightweight return of Aktjubinsk, Kazakhstan’s Bakhtiyar Eyubov.
In against Lynchburg, Virginia’s Maurice Chalmers (14-13-1, 8 KOs), the exciting slugger Eyubov (13-0, 11 KOs) was advancing behind active head movement and a tight shell when his head collided with the retreating Chalmers’. The cut that resulted was ruled too severe and the fight was ruled a No Decision at 1:59 of the opening round.
In a wild women’s light heavyweight brawl featuring fists flying from every direction, wrestling holds and several MMA-style takedowns, Franchon “The Heavy Hitting Diva” Crews-Dezurn won a unanimous six-round decision over Tiffany “The Terminator” Woodard.
Crews-Dezurn, now 3-1, 1 KO, of Baltimore, Maryland, had too many weapons for Wilson, North Carolina’s Woodard (now 4-10-3, 3 KOs), so Woodard tried and succeeded to make things ugly. What followed was a wild punch-out featuring elbows and headlocks and takedowns that left both on the canvas more than once.
Woodard took a lot of hard leather and deserves credit for her toughness. Crews-Dezurn showed class in not taking the bait for most of the fight. She did lose a point in the sixth for a sneaky revenge takedown.
The scores were 59-53, 59-54 and 59-54.
Detroit via Magnitogorsk, Russia’s Alexey Zubov outworked a determined Lamont “Too Smooth” Capers of Hawley, Pennsylvania, on his way to a six-round majority decision.
An entertaining fight between hard-nosed cruiserweights, Zubov was cut over the right eye and took some good punches, but simply outworked the more selective Capers. Zubov showed his often-superior conditioning and worked behind an educated jab, while Capers was content to lay on the ropes and land hard pot shots often enough to keep it interesting.
A score of 57-57 draw was over-ruled by scores 59-56 and 58-56 for the tough Russian. With the victory, Zubov moves his record to 17-1, 9 KOs. Capers falls to 8-11-3.
Lamont Peterson Workout Quotes
Two-division world champion Lamont Peterson hosted a media workout in his hometown of Washington, D.C. Thursday as he prepares to take on unbeaten welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr. Saturday, January 20 live on SHOWTIME from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING® and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features lightweight world champion Robert Easter battling former champion Javier Fortuna.
Here is what the workout participants had to say Thursday:
“I feel great. I’m already close to weight. I’m happy and eating up to five times a day. I feel strong and I’m ready for this fight.
“I have to look at this as really just another big fight. When you’re at the top, you try not to make too much of each fight. We know what’s at stake. I know that when I keep it simple, that’s when I perform best.
“Right now my body feels better than ever. I’m comfortable with everything that’s gone on in camp and I think you can see it in my body.
“I’ve always trained hard since the first day I came here as a child. That’s been instilled in me since a young age and it’s carried me throughout my career.
“Everything I do is for D.C. I’m trying to get as much recognition for this area the best way I can. That’s what we all strive for in this gym. This is the biggest one that’s been on the schedule for a while and I’m ready to bring it home.
“It gets easier and easier the more championship fights I’m in. I was in shape for all of them, but I definitely put more pressure on myself when I was young. I’ve improved each time and now I feel like I’m really at the perfect place in my career.”
Rances Barthelemy and Kyrl Relikh to Rematch on February 10th
Unbeaten two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy and former title challenger Kiryl Relikh will both look to kick off their new year with a world title victory when they meet in a rematch for a vacant 140-pound title Saturday, Feb. 10 live on SHOWTIME from the Alamodome in San Antonio in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT and will be headlined by three-division world champion Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) taking on unbeaten 140-pound world champion Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs).
“Obviously the number one goal for 2018 is to bring home that belt on February 10,” said Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs). “Then I want to unify with all the other champions. My New Year’s resolution is to surround myself with good people and win multiple world titles.”
“First I have to win this fight in February,” said Relikh (21-2, 19 KOs). “But then I have hopes of a great year defending my belt against the mandatory and eventually a unification fight. This will be the year I reach a new level in this sport.”
Barthelemy and Relikh will fight for the WBA’s vacant Super Lightweight World Title after their title eliminator bout in May ended in a debatable decision for Barthelemy. This time the fighters will look to leave no doubt with the full title on the line.
“This is my second time fighting for a world title and it will be a second lesson for me,” said Relikh. “This is my time to become champion. I need to do much more during this fight.
“I have to be aggressive right from the start. I’m sure that I need a knockout to get the victory. He can try to run, but he won’t be able to hide from me.”
“Winning this title would be a dream come true for me,” said Barthelemy. “I’d be the first Cuban fighter in history to win a title in three different divisions. The last fight was very close and deserving of a rematch.
“I just need to stick to my game plan and show everyone that I’m the best 140-pound fighter in the world. The key will be to stay disciplined and land hard shots all night.”
Both fighters have sacrificed in training camp on the road to what they hope will be a celebratory moment on February 10, training hard through the holiday season to stay on target for fight night.
“My whole team has done a fantastic job so far in camp,” said Barthelemy. “Ismael Salas and Joel Casamayor are giving me great tips and keeping me focused on my goal. One new thing I’ve added this camp is Bob Santos for nutrition and strength and conditioning. It’s made a big difference over the holidays where I usually eat too much. He’s kept me on a strict diet and training has never been better.”
“These last few weeks through the holidays have been the hardest of my camp, so there was no room for distractions,” said Relikh. “I spent New Year’s with my family and then I was right back into training camp in the morning.”
With two belts in the 140-pound division on the line in the same night, the winner between Barthelemy and Relikh will be in a great position to begin a path toward unification after February 10.
“I will have my eye on the main event for sure,” said Relikh. “I’m focused on Barthelemy now, but I want to unify and if that means fighting Garcia or Lipinets, I will be ready.”
“Garcia vs. Lipinets is going to be a great fight and I definitely want the winner,” said Barthelemy. “Although Lipinets is the underdog going into this fight, I think he’s going to give Garcia all he can handle. But I still think Garcia will come out on top, setting up war between us in a unification bout.”
Interview with Derrick James, Trainer to Errol Spence Jr.
Boxing Insider Interview with Derrick James
By: Marley Malenfant
Derrick James is busy man.
When he’s not training his stable of boxers, like current IBF Welterweight champion Errol Spence jr or Jermell Charlo, he hosts private and group boxing sessions at the Cooper Aerobics Institute in Dallas.
Photo Credit: Sky Sports
James has trained professionally for over ten years. His career as a professional boxer is 27-7-1 and he’s a former two-time Golden Gloves champion in Texas.
Not one to really hype himself up, James said the formula to his success is to never stop working.
“All of our strength and conditioning work is done at Cooper and our boxing work is done at R&R [Boxing Club in Dallas].”
In a Q&A, James discussed his working relationship with Spence, consideration for trainer of the year, plans to finish out the year and brief talks with the indecipherable Al Haymon.
BI: Do you think boxing media was ignoring you and Errol Spence’s rise prior to a championship because you’re both from Texas?
DJ: I don’t think they ignored Errol as much as they did myself. A couple years ago he was prospect of the year. He was an ESPN prospect of the year and Premier Boxing Champions named him prospect of the year. The boxing media and the boxing world have not ignored him. I think myself, yes. A little bit but not much.
BI: Why do you think that is?
DJ: It’s like a small, small community. I think they like the same ol’ guys. Errol is not my first world champion. It’s Jermell Charlo, who’s from Texas as well. But I don’t know, man. But they almost don’t have a choice now [but to respect it]. I have 23 guys and three champions. So my third guy, Robert Brant, he’s fighting for the world title sometime in August or September for the WBA belt that Danny Jacobs gave up to fight [Gennady Golovkin] GGG. I have three world champions. So there’s no way the public can deny.
BI: Are there things that you do as a trainer that other trainers should be doing?
DJ: Well, I’m happy that they’re not doing what we’re doing. And they don’t need to do it because what works for me does not mean that works for them. They need to stick to what they do and let us stick to what we do. That’s how I’ll say that.
BI: With Spence’s success, has anything changed with the way you two work?
DJ: No not at all, man. Everything thing has been the same. What’s funny is that initially, when I started training him as an amateur, my whole focus was that he would become world champion. Not professional. But it was amateur world champion. I wasn’t thinking that far off because the goal was the amateur world title. And then the Olympic games came. At that point, I never really set a goal except just work hard. For me as a trainer, I don’t feel right pushing my ideas on somebody else. I hope to make him the best he is. We haven’t changed anything. It’s the same pace, same everything since he was an amateur. The only thing we changed is the work we do a little bit. We spar 19 rounds instead of 10 rounds. That’s the difference. We just work a little bit harder and we always work the same pace and the same weight. And that’s why I think it’s getting a little bit harder for everybody to keep up.
BI: What would you like to see for Spence next?
DJ: I really don’t like to interject my personal feelings on who he should fight. I want him to fight whoever he wants to fight. So I listen to him. I go off of whatever he says. He says he wants to fight the best. He wants to fight Keith Thurman. If he can’t fight Keith Thurman because of an injury, then you know whoever the next possible opposition is. It could be Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia. These are the names I’ve heard him say. I’m just repeating what he said. I just get him prepared.
BI: Does he ever mention anyone from Top Rank or Golden Boy? Does he ever say ‘I wouldn’t mind getting at a [Terrance] Crawford or Manny Pacquiao’? Does he mention those guys to you in private?
DJ: Well, Pacquiao… he did say Pacquiao right after the last fight. And really, it’s not about Manny Pacquiao. It’s about that he has that title. So if he didn’t have that WBO belt, he wouldn’t mention his name at all.
BI: What’s it like working with Al Haymon. He’s a mysterious guy and you don’t see him in the media.
DJ: I don’t know, man. I don’t talk to him [laughs]. I’m serious. There’s a liaison that I generally work with and we’ll go from there. I really don’t work with him. I’ve met him before and have talked to him a couple of times. But I really don’t have to talk to him.
After Conquering The United Kingdom, what is the Next Move for Errol Spence Jr.?
After conquering The United Kingdom, what is the next move for Errol Spence Jr.?
By: Kirk Jackson
He came, he saw, he conquered.
Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. 22-0 (19 KO’s) delivered on his promise, dethroning IBF welterweight champion Kell “Special K” Brook 36-2 (25 KO’s) in a thrilling, competitive bout across the pond in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom this past weekend.
Displaying what Spence described as “True grit,” the newly crowned champ accomplished the same feat a few high profile, contemporary American fighters accomplished – traveling to the United Kingdom to win their first world title.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) May 28, 2017
Terence Crawford, Timothy Bradley and Marvin Hagler won their first world titles in the United Kingdom. Pretty good company.
After eating a few of Brook’s “Chocolate brownies,” Spence dissed out his own punishment, stopping the brave Brit in 11 rounds.
“I watched some of his fights and he likes to fight at a certain pace,” Spence told Showtime’s Jim Gray after winning the title.
“And once you pick up the pace on him, he kind of breaks down a little bit, and he can’t throw a lot of punches. So I decided to press the action, make him fight at a pace that he didn’t wanna fight at. Then he started breathing hard and he started slowing down, and I knew that I had him.”
Spence stated in his post-fight interview, the goal is to fight all of the top guys in the division. He wants to unify all of the belts and specifically called out unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s) and WBO welterweight champ Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao 59-6-2 (38 KO’s).
“I’ve been calling Keith Thurman out for a long time,” said Spence. “Now it’s time. You say I have to prove myself and I haven’t fought anybody. Well, I just beat the so-called biggest welterweight in the division – Kell Brook. So now, Keith Thurman, you know, come-out. It’s time to fight.”
— Keith Thurman Jr. (@keithfthurmanjr) May 27, 2017
Thurman appears to be game. Whether these fights occur remain to be seen. It’s been suggested Spence has been avoided in boxing’s toughest division.
It will be difficult to avoid Spence now that he has championship stake in the division. If he can unify, then all championship welterweight roads must be traveled through him.
“The goal is to unify the titles,” Spence told Sky Sports following Saturday’s fight. “I wanna fight Keith Thurman next, you know, Manny Pacquiao next. I wanna fight the champions next, unify the division and become the undisputed champion of the world.”
Danny “Swift” Garcia 33-1 (19 KO’s) and Thurman played their part in the unification process earlier in March and it will be great for boxing if the trend continues throughout the year.
With Pacquiao facing relatively unknown contender Jeff “The Hornet” Horn 16-0-1 (11 KO’s) in July, time to will tell if he wants to participate in this unofficial, welterweight-tournament styled unification process.
Spence appears to have a bright future and it will be interesting to see the challenges in store for him next.