Photo Credit: Amanda Wescott/Showtime
BROOKLYN — The great thing about the truth is it’s uncompromising. Emotionless. That reality manifested last night at the Barclays Center in the form of Errol Spence Jr., who showed why he’s the most feared man in the welterweight division by breaking the will of Lamont Peterson over seven one-sided rounds.
With both men having fought once in the last year, the big question was who would show more ring rust and if Spence could handle the Jekyll-Hyde style of Peterson, who likes to apply heavy pressure after slow starts. Spence not only breezed through that test but revealed other truths which will be very concerning for the rest of the division.
CERTAIN DOOM: If you stand in front of Spence, bad things will happen. Peterson tried to wear out his foe by keeping a high guard and catching punches on the gloves and elbows. The problem was the southpaw Spence’s offense was too versatile; he alternated between shooting straight lefts to the pit of the stomach, uppercuts that split the gloves, and looping hooks around the guard. These shots kept Peterson hesitant to throw more than one counter at a time. And these were powerful, thudding shots you could tell were wearing down the reserves to prevent Peterson’s usual middle rounds comeback.
YOU CAN’T SLUG YOUR WAY OUT: Peterson went down off a left hook to the top of the temple. The shot whipped around his guard and he didn’t see it coming. Peterson has been dropped eight times over the course of his 14-year. The Matthysse loss aside, he’s got up and prevented KO losses by turning the contest into brief slugfests. Last night, that strategy invited a worse beating for the D.C. challenger, who witnessed Spence smile and shrug off his best right hands to maul him with powerful hooks. When Peterson stumbled into the ropes, the beating continued with uppercuts and more hooks.
The severity of the punches and lack of Peterson return fire let us know this time would be different. There would be no last hurrahs for Peterson. The one remaining question was if his corner would be perceptive enough to realize when they needed to save Peterson from himself.
.@ErrolSpenceJr knocks down @kingpete26 in round 5. #SpencePeterson pic.twitter.com/r8Ho3RG5yl
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) January 21, 2018
AN HONORABLE TRAINER: Peterson’s cornerman, Barry Hunter, is more than just a trainer. He was the man who took a teenage, homeless Peterson off the streets of Washington D.C. Father and son-like relationships don’t always lead to the best decisions in the heat of combat. Many times, the father figure “freezes” and either fails to give adequate instructions to his losing fighter or lets a beating go on for too long.
Hunter saw the writing on the wall early and told his man by the fifth he’d stop it if he couldn’t turn the fight around. The beating continued through the sixth and seventh, with a dejected Peterson telling Hunter that he couldn’t box him and his only hope was making it a slugfest. Hunter asked him if he wanted to stop it. And the prideful Peterson affirmed the hopelessness of the situation while still relying on his father figure to make the hurtful call.
“If you want to stop it, I understand. It’s your call.”
Having never heard anything close to that over Peterson’s career, Hunter knew his man had enough.
WELTERWEIGHT SUPREMACY IS UPON US: In his post-fight interview, Spence affirmed his desire for a unification showdown with WBC title-holder Keith Thurman, whom he derisively referred to as “Sometimes Thurman.” The match is one of the biggest showdown in the division and between two undefeated, prime fighters both under the PBC banner. To this date, Thurman has been non-committal and appeared comfortable with letting the fight “marinate” until 2019. The public won’t allow that, and there’s nothing that can happen between now and 2019 that would suddenly make either of them pay-per-view stars.
Its actually fights like Spence-Thurman that can catapult a fighter into becoming an pay-per-view attraction. Spence has the ambition to bet on himself and take the risk now. Does Thurman?
THE REAL SUPERFIGHT FOR 2019: If there’s any fight that I would accept waiting next year for, it would be Spence taking on Terence Crawford, who has his own welterweight title shot in April when he takes on WBO title-holder Jeff Horn. With Crawford under Top Rank and Spence with Al Haymon, the promotional rift will keep them separated for some time. Should Spence beat Thurman, he would still have guys like Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter to tangle with. And Crawford can feast on the endless list of WBO mandatories and Top Rank guys before looking Spence’s way.
But by 2019, those lesser options should be exhausted and we’d have a true super fight. How would it go? Right now, I’d lean towards Spence having a come from behind victory. Crawford has the superior footwork where he could control Spence by turning him and using that jab (southpaw and orthodox) to keep him from getting set to punch. However, Spence has great punch placement and a massive skill advantage when he gets inside. I see the naturally bigger Spence wearing Crawford down for a close but clear decision.
In the meantime, let’s continue to enjoy Spence’s path of destruction.