Header Ads

Errol Spence Jr. eyeing showdown with Keith Thurman later this year

NEW YORK -- As welterweight world titleholder Errol Spence Jr. took his seat for the news conference following his brutal and one-sided destruction of former two-division titlist Lamont Peterson just after Saturday night had turned into Sunday morning, he was presented with a question many in boxing are asking.

Is Spence the best fighter in the world? Many think he just might be, but Spence is humble by boxing standards. He's no loud mouth either.

He thought for a moment and then answered.

It was that talent that allowed him to pummel Peterson, a longtime friend, in a fight in which Spence won every round with ease. Spence (23-0, 20 KOs) knocked Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KOs) down in the fifth round, battered him for virtually the entire fight and swelled his face. In the end, Barry Hunter, Peterson's trainer and father figure, mercifully stopped the fight one second into the eighth round at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn."

Spence's victory was not unexpected even if the totally one-sided nature was. But the ruthless performance continued to add to the drum beat for the fight that most want to see -- a world title unification showdown between Spence and Keith Thurman, who unified two 147-pound belts with a decision win against Danny Garcia last March in the same arena.

But Thurman is coming off elbow surgery that followed the victory against Garcia and has not fought since. He is due back in the ring in April and Spence is willing to wait for him -- just not for too long.

"I give him a pass. I'm on the record saying I'll let him have a tune-up fight," Spence said. "He's been off for a while. He just come off an injury. Have a tune-up fight. But after that we should be meeting -- in 2018. It's the beginning of the year. This is January. Have a tune-up fight March/April and we could fight at the end of the year."

Lou DiBella, who promoted Saturday's fight and has promoted a variety of Spence and Thurman bouts, sat next to Spence at the post-fight news conference and said he believes the fight with Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) will happen. It's a fight that should be relatively easy to make as both fight regularly on Showtime and both are with adviser Al Haymon.

"It's not like Keith Thurman is running away from Errol Spence," DiBella said. "Keith Thurman had surgery and hasn't fought in (nearly) a year. When he comes back is he going to come back to this guy (Spence)? No. Will he fight him? 100 percent. I have no doubt Keith Thurman is going to wind up fighting Errol Spence. It's gonna happen, relax. Relax, man."

DiBella said it's difficult to find top opponents willing to fight Spence.

"I don't think Errol would turn down a great challenge at 154 (pounds)," DiBella said. "There's plenty of good fights to make and with Errol you certainly don't have a guy afraid to fight anybody or a guy who's ducking anybody. I've never seen a guy as good as him who is a champion running around calling out everybody on earth."

As far as having to wait a bit for a Thurman-Spence fight, DiBella added, "Keith's one of the smartest guys I know in the business. He's a smart kid in general, a smart human being. Doesn't mean you're afraid of a bad ass but you have to acknowledge he's a bad ass. I think Keith Thurman knows he's not going to have an easy night fighting Errol Spence. By the way, I think Errol Spence probably would tell you he wouldn't have an easy night fighting Keith Thurman either. It would be a fight."

With that huge fight looming, Spence plans to stay active. Spence, the 2012 U.S. Olympian and 2015 ESPN.com prospect of the year, only fought one time last year - not his decision -- when he went to Kell Brook's hometown of Sheffield, England, in May and knocked him out in the 11th round of a very impressive performance.

"I'm not going to sit around and wait for (Thurman)" Spence, who is from the Dallas suburb of DeSoto, Texas. "The whole goal this year is to stay active and fight quality opponents, so right now I'm just thinking of a homecoming. I'm thinking about going home and fighting in Dallas in my next fight, so hopefully we can make that happen. I'm looking to come back in May or June."

In the meantime, Spence will continue to hone his skills.

"Every fight I'm developing, I'm getting better, I'm getting calmer in the ring," Spence said.

Spence is also seeing a surge in the buzz around him. He drew a crowd of 12,107 for the fight with Peterson and is one of boxing's rising stars.

"His popularity and his star is going to continue to rise," DiBella said. "What's special about Errol Spence and the other highest level of talent in boxing is when someone's this good their talent becomes watercooler discussion. 'You see that kid Saturday night on Showtime? That kid Saturday night on Showtime was a beast. Man, who's going to beat that kid?'

"That's the buzz he's creating right now. He said it many times -- he does his talking in the ring and he really does his talking in the ring. He talks really loud in the ring."

Author: Dan Rafael, ESPN

No comments

Powered by Blogger.