We are going to learn a lot about Errol Spence Jr. very soon.
The southpaw from Texas by way of Long Island is all but set to meet up with IBF Welterweight champion, Kell Brook. Perhaps as early as this spring.
Spence is the mandatory challenger, and Brook says he wants him, even though he has bigger paydays in mind (Pacquiao and Amir Khan in particular). Those are checks he can likely only cash by going through Spence.
That is unlikely to be a small task.
21-0 with 18 KO’s (including 8 in a row), Spence Jr. has rocketed to #1 in the IBF Welterweight rankings. The 26-year-old is a heavy hitter with loads of talent. Spence Jr. hasn’t just been beating opponents, he’s been destroying them. Sure, Leonard Bundu might be aged, and Chris Algieri might be faded, but Spence Jr’s evisceration of both last year were notable not just for the results and the talent on display that achieved them, but also for the simple fact that no one had ever knocked out either before.
The then 41-year-old Bundu had only one loss on his ledger before facing Spence Jr. last August, a 12 round unanimous decision against Keith “One Time” Thurman in December of 2014. While Thurman dropped Bundu in the first, the wily veteran extended the fight the distance, often making Thurman backpedal and generally neutralizing Thurman’s power with his awkward style. There was none of that against Spence Jr. Bundu tried. He was game and in shape.
It made no difference. After cruising through the first 5 rounds with ease, Spence Jr. sent Bundu to the canvas in the 6th with a brutal left to the body, which the referee mistakenly ruled as a slip. Bundu got up, but was clearly damaged. A flurry of blows quickly sent him back to nearly the same spot he had fallen and nearly out of the ring altogether. The referee could have counted to 1000.
The 4-round destruction of Algieri in April was perhaps more impressive. Algieri had been in the ring with big punchers before. He weathered and narrowly defeated Provodnikov and went the distance with Khan and Pacquiao, losing unanimous decisions against both. While neither of those losses were particularly close (he hit the floor six times against the Pacman), his scrap with Khan was competitive. His fight with Spence Jr. was not. Algieri had no answer for Spence Jr’s quick, powerful hands. Especially the two huge lefts that sent him down in the 4th–the kind of connections that make you gasp when you see them.
You could see in both fights all the armor that Spence Jr. possesses. An amateur career that has taught him how to box, and genetics that have gifted him with quick feet, fast hands, and a stunning left hand made for rattling cranial walls and removing the oxygen from the tightest of torsos.
The question now, of course, is whether Spence is ready. Based on his last two “step up in class” level wins, it sure as hell looks like it.
Kell Brook is not Bundu or Algieri though.
Brook may have lost by 5th round stoppage last year after moving up to Middleweight against Gennady Golovkin, and getting a broken eye socket for his trouble. What’s lost in that result is the fact that Brook was offering a high-quality account of himself against GGG. He was landing more clean and heavy punches against Golovkin than anyone GGG had faced before. In some ways, Brook’s loss to Gennady was just as impressive as his signature win over Shawn Porter by majority decision in August of 2014. Porter is an excellent fighter, but Golovkin, as we know, is a beast. Brook was still on his feet when the referee saved him from himself and had done more damage in four rounds and change against the vaunted GGG than perhaps all his previous opponents had done combined.
For all of Spence Jr’s obvious power, skill, and wrecking ball wins, Brook is a whole different animal. The highly-accomplished Brit will ask a question of Spence Jr. that he has not been asked.
“Are you ready for the A list?”
Because that’s where Brook resides. On the top shelf.
I wouldn’t say Spence Jr. has had it easy up until now. He’s been brought along at a solid pace and has raised his level at each stop along the way. He has made it look easy though.
That will likely end against Kell Brook. If it doesn’t, we will have ourselves a star. The sport can use one. Spence Jr. looks the part.
Let’s see if he can own it as well.
Can’t hardly wait.