If you didn’t know they were friends, it’d be hard to fathom Errol Spence, Jr. genuinely likes Lamont Peterson.
As they squared off Saturday evening at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York, the man known as “The Truth” mercilessly punished his buddy and quasi-mentor from pillar to post, about the head and body, round after round. Among fellow warriors, it’s the ultimate show of respect. Premier Boxing Champions presented this pairing which was broadcast live by Showtime Championship Boxing, another showcase for the man most believe to be the best thing going today at 147 pounds.
Spence (23-0, 20 KO’s) customarily starts a tad slow; using the opening round to study and gauge his opponent; feel him out, as they say. That wasn’t the case on this night, however. From jump, the 2012 U.S. Olympian fired probing southpaw jabs to the head, stabbing jabs to the body, hard left crosses upstairs and left hooks downstairs. Bravely, Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KO’s) stayed in the pocket yet steadily gave ground. He landed the occasional jab of his own and slowly began to find a home for sneaky right-hand counters. A left uppercut and a chopping left hook backed Peterson to the ropes and he retreated for the remainder of round 2. A painful pattern ensued in the 3rd and 4th.
In the 5th, a right hook around his peek-a-boo guard and a left hook to the temple dropped Peterson on his backside. Sporting a primal grin, Spence went for the kill. Ever proud, Lamont unleashed desperate, winging lefts and rights, unsuccessfully trying to fend Errol Jr off. By the end of round 6, Peterson’s trainer, Barry Hunter, openly considered stopping the bout, but the former unified 140-pound titlist insisted “I’m good. I’m good, B!” The wily veteran exhausted all options in the 7th, looking to get close enough to clinch and buy time. It was to no avail, however, as Spence used angles to avoid the clinch, maintain his desired range and exploit the openings he discovered.
As the bell rang to signal the 8th stanza, Hunter pulled the plug on his swollen, battered fighter. Back in the day, he rescued Lamont and younger brother, Anthony, from homelessness and the precarious nature of foster care. It was only fitting for surrogate father and trainer to rescue Peterson from further harm, in an equally hopeless situation. “I know he would’ve fought to the end, so I had to step up; cause at the end of the day, this is my son and I don’t care nothing about Boxing more than I care about him”, Hunter explained.
It was yet another in a growing list of stellar outings for “The Truth”. The first defense of the IBF welterweight championship he lifted from Kell Brook, and his 10th consecutive stoppage win overall. Spence’s work-rate, punch variety, punch placement and accuracy are amazing, considering he launches perpetually hurtful blows. Spence threw 526 punches to just 158 for Peterson, landing 49% of his power shots (non-jabs). There’s little doubt Peterson’s experiencing head and body soreness, hours and days removed from combat. Despite a ring absence of nearly 8 months, Spence didn’t skip a beat nor show any signs of ring rust; he stayed in the gym and maintained sharpness assisting training partners, Jermell Charlo and Robert Brant, for upcoming bouts of theirs. In that vein, “E.J.” is hoping to fight 3 times in 2018, to eliminate the possibility of inactivity.
Spence was respectful of Peterson’s fighting spirit afterwards and praised him for taking a bout other top 10 welters avoided. You would think winning a world title would make opponents more willing to fight, but that hasn’t been the case with Spence.
Errol also took his desire to unify with WBA/WBC titlist, Keith “One Time” Thurman to another level, labeling him “Some Time”, in his post-fight interview. As pointed out, he’s called for that bout since he was 15-0. Initially, Thurman requested Spence prove himself, then said he’d want $10 million dollars to make it happen, followed by demands that “E.J.” win a world title, to now advising the Boxing world he won’t be ready for that fight until 2019 at the earliest. It seems no matter what Spence does, Thurman has built-in reasoning not to make the biggest bout there currently is at ’47.
Recovering from elbow surgery, Thurman is slated to make his return in April vs Jessie Vargas. Then he’ll need to clear up a mandatory title defense or two. It’s more than feasible for Thurman to fight three times in 2018, and there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t be ready for Spence by the end of this year, but its clear Thurman isn’t comfortable with his prospects of becoming undisputed champion just yet. There’s also suspicion he’s waiting for “E.J.” to outgrow the welterweight division altogether.
Spence applies unrelenting pressure on foes in the ring, and he’s now placing it upon Thurman outside of the ring. The laid back, soft spoken Errol Jr would rather let his skills do the talking, but every now and then you have to shame men into sharing a ring with you, it seems.