The KELL Brook-Errol Spence Jr. IBF World Welterweight title fight will air LIVE on SHOWTIME® at 5:15 p.m. ET / 2:15 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 27. I dare say there won’t be five more anticipated bouts among hardcore fight fans, booked in 2017, than this one.
Spence is seen as maybe one of the tiny handful of stars to lift the sport higher in the post Mayweather era, and is part of a new breed of throwback hitters. How do? Skills are great in paying the bills, but KOs are where it’s really at, for the Texan. He likes to finish foes. Brit Brook has faced better names but had his face mucked up by Gennady Golovkin. Might Spence continue that theme? Brit fans think not. Time will tell…
NEW YORK – Kell Brook will defend his IBF World Welterweight title against U.S. star Errol Spence Jr. at Bramall Lane in Sheffield on Saturday May 27, live on Sky Sports Box Office and live on SHOWTIME®. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will begin at 5:15 p.m. ET / 2:15 p.m. PT.
Both Brook and Spence took part in a media conference call on Tuesday to discuss next week’s bout. Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) will make the fourth defense of his IBF belt against Spence (21-0, 18 KOs), the mandatory challenger and one of the most highly regarded contenders in the sport today.
Also joining the call were Eddie Hearn, Managing Director of Matchroom Sport, and Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports.
Here is what the principals had to say on the call on Tuesday:
“I think [Errol Spence] is a great talent. He’s been doing what is being asked of him. He’s been knocking over everyone that’s been put in front of him, but he’s up against the champion now. A big strong welterweight and I believe that I train very, very hard and I’m ready to fight and I am very honored to fight in my home city of Sheffield.
“I’m up for this fight and I know what I’m up against. Errol Spence is a talented fighter and I know that it is going to be a very, very tough match but I have been putting the work in at the gym and I’m in absolute focus… I’m ready for anything that comes next Saturday.
“[The crowd size] is definitely up there and that added pressure is going to make me sharper and more aware on the night of the fight. I’m fighting in my hometown and it’s going to give me a lot more energy, I’m very positive. I’m out here training in the Canary Islands and in the storm and in the heat. I’ve been sparring with big fat guys that are strong, tough middleweights with good punches… I’d like to say I’ve sparred with two to three fighters a day… I’ve been putting myself through it in training and I’ve made sure that I’ve done everything to make sure I dominate and I’m in a great place.”
I assume that you feel you are the best welterweight in this division. Who do you think is second best? And where do you think Errol Spence fits in that mix?
“I think the second best has to be Keith Thurman. I think Errol is maybe next below Thurman. He’s definitely high up there. I’ve got a lot of respect for Errol Spence. His hook is the real deal and I think he’s the real deal. I just don’t think it’s his turn yet. Specially up against someone like me. I’m an animal. I’ve done the weight right and like I said, I’m ready for whatever Errol brings.
What was the decision-making process behind staying a welterweight?
“Everybody wanted me to move up because they know that I’m a happier and a better fighter at a slightly heavier weight. But all of my career I’ve been champion and I’ve become a world champion at welterweight. It’s been hard with ups and downs and I just couldn’t give up that title just to move up in weight… I just didn’t want to move up in weight without defending my world title. It took me a long time to get. That’s why I would rather put myself through it to make this welterweight limit… Nobody is just going to get the belt without fighting me for it.”
What does it say about Errol that he is willing to go to your hometown for a world title shot like you did coming to the U.S. to win your world title?
“It just shows me that he believes in his abilities. I was in the same position that he was in. End of the day it’s just going to be me and him in the ring no matter where it is. It’s just going to be me and him. He believes in his talent and I know he’s going to be up for it because when I was coming to fight Porter as the challenger it was a dream and it’s now his dream fighting for the biggest fight of his life, for all the marbles and the world title. I know what he’s going through. He’s flying over to England, I flew to America. There are many things that go through your mind. You question yourself; you ask yourself many, many questions. I know all that is being asked of him to get him to this stage.
“The thing is that he’s up against me and I know what it takes to be champion. I’ve defended it so many times. I know it’s going to be a hard, hard fight but I’ve also put myself through it. I know what it takes to be champion and I know what it takes to defend that title. So, it’s going to be one hell of a fight. It’s the best fighting the best so all I can say is it’s going to be an amazing fight.”
How much of an advantage do you feel in this fight?
“I can’t really tell you that. I just know that I’ve fought at a world title level. I’ve beat the champion before. I’ve been in big fights. I know it is hard being the challenger, I know it is hard being the champion. All I know is I’m up against a very, very good fighter in Errol Spence and all I can say is I’ve prepared 100 percent for this fight.”
When were you confident that your eye was okay?
“I am very confident in my surgeon… You know it’s always nice, well not nice, but getting punched for the first time and feeling it in the first spar it’s always good to take that first boxer. Since then, it just feels brand new so there’s no doubt there in the eye.”
What was the process in getting back down to welterweight?
“[My nutritionist] has brought new things to the table to improve with me. Getting the weight back to welter, you know, you never stop learning. I’m not as moody as I thought I was going to be cutting down the weight. If you’ve seen me, I’m in great shape, I’m light. I’m down to weight. So, I’m not feeling as bad and I’ve got plenty of energy than thinking back to other times I’ve had to make welterweight.
“Just with the fight I know that I had to go back down to welterweight. I’m not thinking ‘this meal’s going to taste nice.’ I’m thinking this meal is just fuel for my next weight class. It’s all about the mindset and I’ve got my mind focused and my mind ready.”
Can you tell us why you think you won the fight against Shawn Porter?
“I won the fight because I won the fight and I threw more shots and caught him with the cleaner shots. He was jumping in and I won the fight with the cleaner shots and I hit him more than he hit me. That’s why.”
How long do you think you’d like to stay at 147 after this fight?
“I’ve not really thought about that too much. After I fight at this weight again, I’d like to unify the division again through Keith Thurman and then move up. That would be the ideal situation for me.”
How does it feel to come off a huge fight and go in to another big fight back-to-back?
“That’s where I want to be… I want to be putting the biggest fights on for the fans because when my time is up I want remembered as the guy who never ducked anybody when the biggest fights could be made… I want to fight all the top guys.”
ERROL SPENCE JR.
“I’m excited to fight for my first world title. It’s something that I’ve been waiting for a long time now. Something that I knew that was going to happen… I’m excited that it’s finally here and that I’m finally getting the opportunity to prove myself and prove that I am the best welterweight in the division. Kell Brook, who’s a good fighter, has great skills and he’s a strong fighter too, he can fight… I know it’s not going to be an easy fight for me; it’s going to be a real test to go to his hometown and to take his title from him. It’s something that real fighters do…they go to other people’s town and fight the champion. I’m going to go to his hometown and take the title.
Can you talk about your anxiousness about having to sit for nine months waiting to get this opportunity?
“It was difficult sometimes. It was positive because I got to hang out with my kids and family. It was difficult watching fighters on TV have success and go on to win titles. It was kind of frustrating sometimes but I knew I had to be patient – timing is everything – and that my opportunity was going to come.”
Were you surprised that Brook returned to the welterweight division to fight you? What were your thoughts about his decision?
“I wasn’t surprised. Kell Brook’s a real fighter that wants to fight the best. A lot of people said he would be ducking me… I kind of knew he was coming down. I wanted him to come down because I wanted to take the belt from the champion. I didn’t want to fight the next available guy. I wanted to fight the champion, the guy who has the belt and earn it the right way.
“I think the triple G fight is in the past. He had nine months to recover… There are guys that have been in tougher wars than that. Nine months is enough time for him to recover and recuperate and get back to normal. I’m expecting a 100% Kell Brook to come to fight. I’m not expecting an injured Kell Brook. It looks like he’s making his weight pretty good. I have to worry about the best Kell Brook.”
Can you tell us why going to London two weeks early was important for you?
“It’s been a struggle with the jet lag and adjusting to the time. We’ve been having great training, great sparring and I’m basically just staying focused out here. It was a good decision to come out here earlier.”
Had you heard or read about anyone else in the past that had gone out there too late?
“I’ve heard about guys coming in on Tuesday or three days before the fight and being jet lagged. We just wanted to take all the precautions and come out here early so we’ll be 100 % prepared.”
Can you tell us what it was like for you to get down to 147 pounds or maybe what you walk around at?
“It’s not easy at all. I’m a big welterweight too. It’s my job and I don’t complain about making weight because it’s my job. It’s part of what I have to do. I walk around pretty heavy, but I get the weight off and come 100% prepared. I’m not worried about my weight; I’m not worried about his weight. That’s what all fighters go through. There are guys that come down 30 or 40 pounds all the time. It’s not something that I worry about.”
What do you expect the environment to be like next week at Bramall Lane?
“I expect the environment to be lively. These are hardcore boxing fans in the UK. These people know their boxing. They really come out to support. I expect him to have a lot of support. I expect me to have a lot of boos and I welcome that. It’s a lot of pressure on him to perform in front of his family and his friends. I’m not worried about the crowd. It’s me and him in the ring… Watch me win the world title.”
In some ways is it better to fight him in his hometown in the sense that all the pressure is on him as you mentioned before?
“I don’t know. You still have to perform in the ring whether you’re fighting in his hometown or fighting in America or fighting anywhere else. You still have to show up and you still have to perform. At the end of the day it’s just me and him in the ring, but it is a lot of pressure fighting at home. You have a lot of expectations and a lot of people who rely on you to put on a great performance. It’s a lot of pressure on him too regardless of where he’s been.”
Do you feel in a sense that you’ll get more credit if you win this fight because you went over to his hometown and did it?
“Definitely. I feel like this is a legacy defining fight for me. Most guys with my pedigree get the title handed to them in some type of way. They don’t go across seas to fight the hometown guy against a good fighter like Kell Brook. That’s really unheard of. So I definitely think I get a lot of credit for going overseas and fighting Kell Brook.”
If you pull of the win, how much sweeter will it be that you did it in the champ’s back yard in front of around 30,000 people who are mostly going to be rooting for that guy?
“That’s a dream situation for most boxers. To win a world title in someone else’s back yard shows that you have a lot of grit about yourself and the utmost confidence in yourself to go and do that. I can’t wait.”
Do you feel that the last time you left England in 2012 without an Olympic medal, that maybe you had something to prove to the English this time around?
“No, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. With the Olympics, it’s a lot of politics. There are a lot of different things that go on during the Olympic Games. I feel like that’s in the past, that was the amateurs, this is the pros now. I feel like I have a lot to prove to myself. Of course, I have a lot to prove to fans overall…That I’m the best welterweight and I feel like I’m the best fighter in the welterweight division. That’s the only thing I feel like I have to prove.”
You’ve called out Keith Thurman in the past. Is that something that’s on your mind at this point in your career?
“It’s not something that’s on my mind right now but it’s definitely the fight that I want in the future and it’s a fight that’s easy to make. But right now I have to get past Kell Brook for that fight to even be possible.”
What did you learn from the Golovkin fight that you can apply to fighting Kell?
“I thought Kell Brook was going to win the first half of the fight and that Triple G was going to catch up to him. Overall, it shows a lot of heart and a lot of grit to stand in there sometimes and take some shots and trade some shots with Triple G. Overall, I don’t really look into that fight. I saw some shots that Triple G landed and some things that he did but we don’t take too much from that fight.”
What about the fight that he had a couple years ago with Shawn Porter? Is there anything you’ve been able to get from that fight that you could apply?
“Definitely. We’ve been looking at a couple fights and that’s one of the fights that we’ve been looking at and that we could apply a couple things to. It was a close fight; I thought it could have gone either way. It’s one of the fights we’ve been looking at. Shawn Porter’s a different fighter than me but we take little things from everybody.”
Would you like to make a prediction for this fight?
“Prediction is I’m coming home on the airplane with the belt.”
EDDIE HEARN, Matchroom Sports Managing Director and Brook’s promoter
“It’s 30,000 that’ll be packed into Sheffield’s Bramall Lane next week and obviously off of 90,000 at Wembley, as well. It’s a wonderful time for British boxing. It’s a wonderful time for world boxing. And I think it’s fantastic looking at Showtime’s schedule, really the way they’re embracing the national scene as well as the American scene.
“Of course, this weekend they’re in London for the Gervonta Davis-Liam Walsh fight. This, looks like a great fight on paper as well and back in the north of England the week after. So, we’re really excited. This is a fight that is getting huge traction over here now because it really is the best versus the best in my opinion.
“I’ve long believed Kell Brook is the No. 1 welterweight in the division and we’ve all watched the rise of Errol Spence coming through. And I think that this is a fight that perhaps promoters and advisors of another time might’ve swerved.
“Errol Spence has looked sensational, so why go to the UK and gamble against Kell Brook? Because, they believe they can win and because he believes he’s the best. Kell Brook, coming off of a GGG fight, why fight a young, dangerous contender? The answer is, because he believes he can beat him. Because he doesn’t want to swerve the challenge, he wants to be the best as well. I think here, in my opinion, you have the No. 1 and No. 2 welterweights in the world. And that’s no disrespect to Keith Thurman. He’s a wonderful fighter but for me, this is the fight of the year in the welterweight division. I think this could be the fight of the year.
“I am so pleased to get the chance to fulfill a childhood ambition of fighting in these football grounds that he’s supported throughout his whole life. And one of the reasons we wanted to do that is. We could’ve gone to the O2 Arena and we probably would’ve made a little more money, but we need to be like an absolute razor-sharp diamond in this fight. A crowd of 30,000 at Bramall Lane would ensure that Kell Brook is that razor-sharp diamond and I believe will go on and prove that he is the No. 1 fighter in the division and one of the best pound for pound fighters in world boxing.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive Vice President & General Manager SHOWTIME Sports
“When the best fight the best, special things happen. We saw that two weeks ago in a Matchroom promoted event at Wembley Stadium, 90,000 fans and a new British Pay-Per-View record.
“We saw that back in March with Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia on CBS in a fight that generated five-million viewers. We saw the best fighting in January on SHOWTIME with the Frampton and Santa Cruz rematch as well as James DeGale and Badou Jack in a potential fight of the year.
“We know that when the best fight the best, we get memorable nights. We get reminded of everything this sport can be. In closing,
“I have to give credit to Errol and Kell and their respective teams for taking the tough fights. This is a real treat for boxing fans. I’m going to be going to the fight in person because as a boxing fan, this is an event that I do not want to miss.”