By Jason Gonzalez
Saturday night at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY, IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence, Jr. was back in the squared circle for the first time in eight months.
Last May, Spence traveled overseas to face Kell Brook in one of the more highly anticipated match-ups on the boxing calendar; it was a contest that saw Spence’s arm raised as the victor.
Fast forward to Saturday night’s bout, Spence would be making the first defense of his strap against the very tough Lamont Peterson of Washington D.C. in the main event.
The 28-year-old Spence, Jr. had a successful maiden defense of his title, while improving his ledger to 23-0, (20). For the duration of seven rounds, Spence, Jr. administered a beat down, prompting his foe’s corner to call the fight off prior to the start of the eighth.
“I want to thank Lamont. A lot guys turned down the fight and he took it like a real warrior and I commend him for that,” the native of Dallas, Texas would say. “My coach came with a great game plan and I just followed through with it. Keep my range, keep my composure.”
Spence, Jr. was in total control from start to finish. He dictated the tempo of the bought, properly executing a proportional ratio of head and body punches. Peterson, a former two-time world champion in his own right, had faced a plethora of world class fighters before, however he had never been outclassed the way he was like on the night of the 20th.
And although, Peterson’s record may have dropped to 35-4-1 (17), and is now possibly considering retirement, he earned the respect of the masses by showing courage and valor. Peterson remained true to his DNA. He was a fighter to the bitter end.
“He was getting the shots on me early. He was the better man tonight,” said Peterson, who touched the canvas in the fifth round. “I always respect Barry’s decision. If he asks me to fight a million people, I will. If he asks me to stop. I will stop. I will never question his decision. I know he has my best interests at heart.”
Spence, Jr., a southpaw, kept Peterson on the outside, landing an array of accurate jabs, which was immediately followed by a perfect flow of offense. The onslaught was simply too much for Peterson to deal with. The “W” marks the tenth straight stoppage for Spence, Jr.
“I know Lamont, he’s a tough fighter. He’s willing to die in there. You saw his coach had to stop the fight because he wanted to keep fighting,” said Spence, Jr. “I still can improve a lot on my defense. I just have to keep perfecting my skills and keep progressing. You’re going to see a better Errol Spence next time I get in the ring. I didn’t know I would dominate like that. I expected to get the knockout, but this was a great performance.”
How much better can he get? After putting forth such a dominating and impressive performance, any post altered version of him would be terrifying. This wouldn’t bode well for him considering that he is already having a tough time getting guys into the ring with him.
Spence, Jr. never showed any signs of ring rust. But instead great technique that consisted of balance, power, and great composure. The future look extremely bright for Spence, Jr. He appears to be well on his way to becoming the “Top Dawg” in the 147 pound division.
Upon assessing the rich and loaded welterweight landscape, on paper, it seems like Spence, Jr.’s biggest threat is WBC champion Keith Thurman.
“Everybody knows I’ve been waiting on “Sometimes” Thurman. Since I was 15-0, I’ve been calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses. Let’s get it on. I want Keith Thurman,” he would say. “He has two of the belts and we both have big names. It’s an easy fight to make and I want it."
To say that it was a great performance by the champion is just merely being redundant. So now a potential showdown with Thurman now looms.
As for the other monster in the conference known as Terence Crawford, he still has yet to make his debut as a full blown welter. Assuming that he beats Jeff Horn, and Top Rank and the PBC [Premier Boxing Champions] can get over the political divide a Spence, Jr.-Crawford fight would be a huge money maker.
In the co-feature bout, IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr. was lucky to escape with a split-decision victory over Javier Fortuna. Win or lose, Easter, Jr. would have retained his lightweight title because Fortuna failed to make weight for the fight.
Fortuna was deducted a point in the second round for hitting behind the head. If it wasn’t for the point penalty, the contest would have been a split draw.
The scorecards read 115-112 and 114-113 for Easter, Jr. while the third card ruled in favor of Fortuna at 114-113. With the victory, Easter kept his title, while improving to 21-0, (14). Fortuna dropped to 33-2-1-1, (23).
The announced attendance was 12,107