It "only" took five months of deliberating for reigning IBF welterweight champion, Kell “The Special One” Brook (36-1, 25 KO’s), to finally decide to defend his world title against mandatory, top rated challenger, “The Truth” Errol Spence, Jr. (21-0, 18 KO’s). The bout will take place this Saturday, May 27th, at Bramall Lane, in Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England, broadcast live to American audiences on "Showtime Championship Boxing". Brook, who last fought September 2016, tapping out in 5 spirited rounds due to a fractured orbital bone, courtesy of middleweight killer, Gennady Golovkin, had to be cleared medically first. From there, Spence was made to wait as Brook politicked for more lucrative, higher profile opponents, to no avail. The sanctioning body also granted Brook extensions, as he slowly mapped out his next move, but thankfully, the road eventually lead to Desoto, TX.’s Spence, ending the longest stretch of inactivity in his boxing life.
This will be the fourth defense of the strap Brook took from Shawn Porter in 2014, and will undoubtedly be his toughest title defense to date, as well as the sternest test of Spence's young career. A win could catapult either to the brink of pound for pound lists and a potential date with unified welterweight champion, Keith "One Time" Thurman.
The ambitious Spence, a 2012 United States Olympian, was ready to face name brand opponents and/or former world championship challengers as early as his second year as a pro. But Errol's eagerness was put on ice until 2016, when he violently thawed out Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu. The referee mercifully rescued Algieri in round 5, with Bundu being rendered unconscious in the 6th. In the process, Spence (known as "E.J." to most, locally) disposed of them more impressively than Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, Ruslan Provodnikov and Keith Thurman did, collectively.
In his own words, Spence is a "passive aggressive, boxer-puncher". Aside from the "passive" portion, he's spot-on, and it'll be very interesting watching his pressuring, probing, jabbing, body banging, southpaw attack mesh with Brook’s polished, movement, 1-2’s and counters reliant approach. While “E.J.” has certainly never faced a professional of Brook’s caliber, he does routinely spar with significantly larger men, upwards of 15 rounds a session. He’s taken their shots well and managed to push them onto their back foot, more than they cared to be, without becoming visibly fatigued. Brook’s accustomed to being the larger, stronger welterweight and that simply won’t be the case come May 27th.
Undoubtedly, this will be a fan-friendly, competitive bout. Kell Brook will be a tough, prideful out, waging war in front of his hometown fans. That being said, the hunch is Spence will set a pace Brook ultimately won’t be able to maintain, Errol will close the distance, administer a constant body beating that compromises Brook’s mobility and leads to him being stopped in 7 or 8 intriguing rounds.
“The Truth” of the matter is, Errol Spence, Jr. is the I.B.F. welterweight champion in waiting, for all intents and purposes. All that remains is the actual fight.