When featured on the undercard of a handful of Premier Boxing Champion cards since the brand launched in early 2015, Spence was always touted as one to watch.
At 28 years old, the reigning IBF Welterweight Champion is officially into his athletic prime, standing at a perfect 22-0 with 19 knockouts.
Not too bad for the 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist from Texas, who was born on Long Island and has recently made a home in the ring in Brooklyn.
After January 20, Spence will have held three of his last four fights in Brooklyn, two of which were at Barclays Center, the spot that’s become boxing’s hotbed, and the location where Spence arguably left his first huge imprint on the sport.
On April 16, 2016, Spence lined up across Chris Algieri, a Huntington native with a degree from Stony Brook, master’s from NYIT, and previous world title runs in boxing and kickboxing.
Prior to the fight Algieri had two losses; a blowout to Manny Pacquiao and a tight one against Amir Khan, both by decision.
Against Spence, he didn’t make it past round five, losing by TKO. He hasn’t fought since.
Spence’s true crowning achievement came a year later on May 27, when he traveled to the United Kingdom to face Kell Brook.
Brook, then the IBF champ, had one loss, a stoppage defeat to middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in which he flashed brilliance early on, but broke his eye socket prior to round six.
In Brook’s backyard, Spence scored a TKO in round 11, becoming only the seventh American to win a world title in the U.K.
Though usually mild mannered, there’s a reason he carries a certain confidence along with his world title.
“The top spot in the sport is really up for grabs now, and I’m coming for it,” he said at a media workout on January 10. “I don’t care who I have to face or where, I’m going to be the last man standing. That’s why we all get into this sport.”
On Saturday, headlining yet another stacked Brooklyn Boxing/Premier Boxing Champion card, Spence will take on Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KO’s), a former welterweight and light welterweight world champion in his own right.
Peterson, 33, has only fought once since October 2015, but the one performance was a unanimous decision victory that landed him a WBA World Welterweight championship.
“I’m excited to be fighting a guy like Lamont Peterson,” said Spence. “I’m not fighting a no-name fighter. He’s going to bring the best out of me because he’s a true fighter.
“Everyone who has seen me fight before knows it won’t be a boring fight,” he added. “Even if it’s one-sided, it’s always going to be action packed. I’m planning to dominate.”
Spence hasn’t fought since defeating Brook in May, which came nine months after he put Leonard Bundu to sleep at the Coney Island Amphitheater on a rainy late August afternoon in 2016.
His long layoff may have been behind his slow start against Brook, but his trainer Derrick James insists the rising star is ready to go.
“Errol has to keep this mentality going into this fight and beyond, and he knows that,” said James. “Winning one title is not what he wants. He wants to be undisputed welterweight champion. He’s going to push himself to the limit and attain his goals.”
Peterson has fought at Barclays in August 2014 and April 2015 on one of the first PBC cards, defending an IBF Super Lightweight Title against non-descript challenger Edgar Santana, and then losing a controversial decision to Danny Garcia.
“Defending my title in Brooklyn will be special,” said Spence. “I have family in New York, so it means a lot that I’ll be able to defend at Barclays Center. New York is a boxing city, so they really appreciate champions and know the sport.”