The War Report: Trouble Man (Week 21, 2017)

Errol Spence Jr. (IBF 147) | Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

4,600 miles away from his home in Texas, Errol Spence Jr. had his watershed moment once beating Kell Brook in Sheffield, England on Saturday night, bringing home the IBF welterweight title.

It was a competitive fight to start, but Spence ultimately forced a top-3 welterweight to bow out by the end of it, and the overall performance immediately puts him in the conversation of being one of the best 147-pounders in the world — a hodgepodge of different characters who’s voices are as different as the fighting style they present.

With an unmistakable Texas draw, Spence seemingly has the ability to excel in just about everything in the ring, and joins a class where a lisping counterpuncher already has two of the four major world titles, where a mauler from Cleveland and a cagey Philly fighter have their fathers do the talking for them, where a mouthy Englishman often talks much quicker than his highly regarded hand speed, where a quiet iron man from the Coachella Valley is probably pondering retirement, and finally, where the only other southpaw is a happy-go-lucky superstar past is prime, but still takes up boxing in-between Sessions of Congress in Manila (and still has the ability to keep Jessie Vargas out of this conversation).

“It’s a legacy-defining fight. That’s what true champions do. You go anywhere to fight,” said Spence after the win. “I want to unify divisions. I want all the champions. I want (Keith) Thurman, Manny Pacquiao. I want to fight the best, just like true champions do.”

Just four weeks ago in London, unified WBA/IBF heavyweight title holder, Anthony Joshua, was crowned as the next big thing in boxing after forcing a stoppage of Wladimir Klitshcko in the 11th round of an instant classic that had 90,000 people watching live. Only a mere third of those Brits showed up to the Bramall Lane Football Grounds on Saturday night, and while their countryman didn’t win this time around, youth prevailed in the same round.

“I came here to his back yard in front of 30,000. That’s what real champions do,” proclaimed Spence, who’s from Desoto but trains in Dallas, Texas. “I fought a real champion tonight and I proved non-believers that I can fight. I’ve proven I have a chin and I have true grit.”

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

There was an innate reaction from Spence to fight back whenever Brook landed a clean right hand, and some heated exchanges took place in a fight where the tension never withered. More often than not, Spence would reciprocate with the better punch, but it was three other facets of his offense that took the will out of Brook. Spence’s jab was consistently used all night, the youngster was the savvier puncher on the inside, and beginning at the fight’s midway point, he furthered the breakdown by ripping shots to the body with both hands.

Brook was forced to take a knee to start the 10th round, and after a rally in it’s final minute, kept his hope alive with sheer heart that was spurred on by those cheering him on. Spence, who never showed any sign of panic, kept at his jab as the fight proceeded and the punch’s overall body of work was shown on Brook’s puffy right eye. Now blinking profusely, Brook was pawing at the eye and moments after a right hook from Spence forced a warrior to think like a civilian, and save himself from complete ruin by taking a final knee.

Spence, 27, got his ninth knockout in a row and his tranquility in the ring continued post-fight. Errol — a peculiar name that translates to either a war commander or a nobleman — is already a trouble man for anyone in the current welterweight landscape.

Fight of the Week

Errol Spence Jr. KO11 Kell Brook (IBF 147) | May 27 — Sheffield, England

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

No video of the fight is available yet, but here is my account of the fight immediately after it happened:

Honorable mention

Georges Groves TKO6 Fedor Chudinov (168) | May 27 — Sheffield, England

KO of the Week

Julio Ceja KO3 Anselmo Moreno (122) | May 27 — Panama City, Panama

With an opponent seeking refuge, Ceja (31–2, 28 KOs) snuck in a left uppercut to the chin that put Moreno down and out on Saturday night. Moreno (36–6–1, 12 KOs), a former bantamweight titleist from Panama, took the count on his knee and proceeded to walk back to his corner with legs that just weren’t all there for the fight. The 31-year old has now lost four of his past five and it’s the second one in a row by knockout. Ceja, 24, gets a bounce back win after being knocked out in the first round of his first 122-pound title defense 5 months ago. An ankle injury occurred from that occasion produced the long layoff.

Honorable mentions

Dagoberto Aguero KO1 Gustavo Molina (118) | May 26 — Boca Raton, Florida

Egidijus Kavaliauskas KO6 Daniel Echeverria (147) | May 26 — Chicago, Illinois

Fighter of the Week

Errol Spence Jr. (22–0, 19 KOs)

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

More post-fight quotes from Spence, who wasn’t a braggart by any means:

“This fight was tougher than I thought it was going to be. I showed I can take a punch and I can throw a punch. I can face adversity and I can win.”

“I came out and I tried to do my best tonight. I’m happy I won but I’m critical of my performance. I was overshooting my left. I give myself a B minus. I had a little trouble overusing my counter left.”

“Brook went to America to take the title from an American, like a true champion. I came here to his hometown to get that title back from him. I wanted to win like true champion, and I did because that is what champions do.”

“He was hurt. He was tired. He came firing shots, I came firing shots. But there was a moment I realized I had to step up my game and I did.”

Results

In order of weight class

World title bouts

IBF 147 | Errol Spence Jr. KO11 Kell Brook | Spence becomes the new IBF welterweight title holder

Errol Spence Jr. (IBF 147) | Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

IBF 105 | Jose Argumedo TKO8 Gabriel Mendoza | Argumedo defends the IBF minimumweight title for the 3rd time

Notables

200+

Lenroy Thomas SD10 David Allen (115–114, 115–114, 113–115)

Zhilei Zhong TKO1 Curtis Harper

200

Lawrence Okolie TKO2 Rudolf Helesic

175

Ryan Ford TD7 Robert Berridge (67–66, 69–64, 68–65)

168

George Groves TKO6 Fedor Chudinov

Jamie Cox TD9 Lewis Taylor (88–83, 88–83, 87–84)

160

Tim Tszyu RTD3 Adam Fitzsimmons

154

Kanat Islam UD12 Norberto Gonzalez (scores unavailable)

Brandon Brewer UD10 King Davidson (100–90, 99–91, 99–91)

Zhankhozh Turarov TKO3 Gustavo Garibay

147

Mike Alvarado TKO2 Matthew Strode

Egidijus Kavaliauskas KO6 Daniel Echeverria

140

Alex Saucedo UD8 Wilberth Lopez (78–73, 78–73, 77–74)

135

Orlando Salido RTD7 Aristides Perez

Kevin Rivers Jr. UD6 Roberto Pucheta (60–54, 59–55, 58–56)

122

Julio Ceja KO3 Anselmo Moreno

Michael Conlan TKO3 Alfredo Chanez

112

Andrew Selby UD12 Cristofer Rosales (117–110, 117–110, 118–109)

Imminent Conflicts

This week’s boxing schedule (click on city for event’s BoxRec)

Television (U.S.)

Friday, June 2

Estrella TV (10:00 PM ET / 7 PT) | Belasco Theater — Los Angeles, California

Azat Hovhannisyan vs. Neftali Campos (122)
Alexis Rocha vs. Cesar Valenzuela (154)
Niko Valdes vs. Ernesto Berrospe (154)

Saturday, June 3

Showtime (9:00 PM ET / 6 PT) | Bell Centre — Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Adonis Stevenson vs. Andrzej Fonfara II (WBC 175) | Stevenson looks to defend the WBC light heavyweight title for the 8th time

Eleider Alvarez vs. Jean Pascal (175)

Notable fights not on T.V. (In order of weight class)

Thursday, June 1

Michael Farenas vs. Oscar Mora (147) | Costa Mesa, California

Friday, June 2

Tony Yoka (pro debut) vs. Travis Clark (200+) | Paris, France

Lucas Browne vs. Matthew Greer (200+) | Punchbowl, Australia

Bradley Skeete vs. Shayne Singleton (147) | Brentwood, England

Henry Lundy vs. Daniel Evangelista Jr. (135) | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Nordine Oubaali vs. Alejandro Hernandez (118) | Paris, France

Saturday, June 3

Dmitry Kudryashov vs. Olanrewaju Durodola (200) | Rostov-na-Donu, Russia

Mike Gavronski vs. Quinton Rankin (175) | Tacoma, Washington

Custio Clayton vs. Oscar Cortez (147) | Montreal, Canada

Matt Remillard vs. Fatiou Fassinou (135) | Mashantucket, Connecticut

Francisco Rodriguez Jr. vs. Oscar Cantu (112) | Cancun, Mexico

Wanheng Menayothin vs. Omari Kimweri (WBC 105) | Thailand

Sunday, June 4

Yves Ngabu vs. Tamas Lodi (200) | Roeselare, Belgium

Hiroshige Osawa vs. Julio Cortez (126) | Osaka, Japan