“Listen ma, I'll give you all I got/ get me off of this/ I need confidence in myself.”
–The Weeknd, in a line from “Wicked Games”
Errol Spence Jr (21-0, 18KO's) certainly won't be singing this tune this weekend, when he challenges IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook (36-1, 25KO's).
Premier Boxing Champions will go ‘LIVE' on Showtime (5:15 PM ET/ 2:15 PM PT) with this IBF welterweight blockbuster from Bramall Lane's football stadium in Sheffield, England on May 27 and you should watch. Just listen to Spence's own words.
“I plan on annihilating [Brook] in a war,” dropped Spence, when I asked him about the fight in front of a crowd unlike any he'll ever experience again, while on hand at Barclays for Shawn Porter V Andre Berto. “I don't care about the fight being in England. It could be in his dining room. He's gotta go.”
His confidence isn't unwarranted, as the welterweight division's southpaw version of GGG used the fearsome WBO super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo to get ready for a Brook, who was beaten by the aforementioned Gennady Golovkin via 5th round TKO last September.
“I think he's better than Kell Brook,” said Spence of Charlo, who wants it badly with Canelo Alvarez. “He's longer, he's bigger, he's taller… A lot nastier. And I really think he's faster too.”
He's right. Brook is actually 2 inches shorter than Charlo and an astonishing 4 inches shorter in reach. This dramatically changes the combat zone, for sure, but Brook doesn't really operate in the same fashion as the Felix Trinidad-like Charlo. Stylish and slick, “Special K” is more like a fundamentally sound Joe Calzaghe. The last time I can remember an American coming to England so highly touted to face an English champion, Calzaghe beat the complete shit out of Jeff Lacy. Just kinda putting that out there, folks.
Prior to putting up a heroic effort against Golovkin, Brook was near universally considered the pound-for-pound best welterweight on the planet. No one expected him to beat Golovkin– and the Kazakhstani mauler never floored him. If you ask people around Brook in camp, he's completely reacclimated to his 147lb self with no Triple G carryover. I was able to get Brook's feelings on Spence in person back in January, during Badou Jack V James DeGale, also at Barclays. I'm assuming he hasn't changed his mind on this.
“That boy (Spence) doesn't know what he's getting himself into,” said Brook then, with a bit of irritation. “I've been in fire and people around him keep blowing smoke. Don't be surprised if I ruin him.”
Well, I would be.
There is not a better fight that can be made at welterweight, and were they both bigger here in the U.S., this would have to be considered a ‘superfight'. What Brook isn't really considering, is the vast reservoir of confidence Spence gained when rumored to have dominated Floyd Mayweather in sparring a few years ago. That event is largely responsible for the psychological phenomenon that transformed Spence into special, as Leonard Bundu and Chris Algieri can attest to.
But because Brook is great (and a world apart from Bundu or Algieri) he'll frustrate Spence into lower production and set traps. I think Brook will hit Spence cleanly in a way we haven't seen before, perhaps even have control of the fight for awhile. It's just that fighters like Spence come around only once a generation, and once he solves the Brit while finding something that works, he will indeed ‘annihilate' Brook. The pick here is Spence via 11th round TKO in a thriller.