If there’s anything scarier than the way Errol Spence Jr. walks down and systematically dismantles his opponents, it’s the fact that the unbeaten IBF welterweight champion says he hasn’t yet come close to showing everything inside of him.
“I think my best is yet to come,” Spence told CBS Sports’ “State of Combat” podcast. “I think Shawn Porter might bring out some different traits, and you might see something different in a guy who is backing Shawn Porter up and beating him up mentally and physically by walking through him. You might see something different, you might not. It’s up to him to bring out something different in myself.”
Spence (25-0, 21 KOs) just might get his chance to show the complete package on Saturday when he and Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs), the WBC champion, unify 147-pound titles in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card (FOX PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
As a southpaw with an Olympic background who is equal parts technician and destroyer, Spence hasn’t let the fact that he’s heavily avoided by top fighters prevent him from showing he’s among the best in the sport. The top of boxing’s current pound-for-pound list is at a unique crossroads in that no fewer than six fighters own a legitimate claim to the throne, with none having necessarily made a big enough statement to justify universal claim as best in show.
Spence, a native of Desoto, Texas, just might get the opportunity to make that claim should he finish Porter, 31, in the manner in which he has predicted. In fact, if the buildup to this fight has shown us anything, it has been Spence’s transition from quiet and humble athlete to a ruthless dealer in what he feels to be “The Truth,” which just so happens to be his nickname.
Even though Spence has years of history with Porter and his father/trainer Kenny that go back to his amateur days, it didn’t take but minutes at their press conference in July to announce their friendship to be pushed aside. After listening to Porter’s opinion about how the fight might play out, Spence leaped out of his passive shell and snapped. He went on to deliver a cold warning to Porter that if he would “knock your ass out” should the Akron, Ohio, product come to box from the outside.
Spence’s transition into an all-business destroyer only continued on the set of Fox’s “PBC: Face to Face” show to promote the fight. Although Spence never crossed the line in terms of talking trash, he was void of emotion in outright dismissing Porter’s talent while guaranteeing a knockout.
“For the most part, I’m a kind guy but I can turn it up if I have to,” Spence said. “I don’t talk trash, but if somebody comes at me, I can come right back easily. That helps me a lot, especially in the ring. If someone is getting rough and rugged, I can get rough and rugged, too. If someone gets dirty, I can, too. It’s the mean streak that every fighter has, no matter what their mannerism is.”
Spence went on to tell Porter that whether he decides to rely on his speed from the outside or employ an outright “dirty” style of mauling at close range, it won’t matter because Spence knows “the dog” inside of him is that much bigger than Porter.
Asked afterwards whether opponents have overlooked his killer instinct because of his polite exterior, Spence agreed. It’s part of what has made his transition into a confident fighter unwilling to hold anything back so intriguing.
“I think so, for the most part, but anyone who knows me knows I have a lot of dog in me,” Spence said. “I’m the guy who always comes to fight and will do whatever it takes to win. A lot of these boxers don’t take it for granted because they knew me from the amateurs and know me. I’m a calm and collected guy, but can turn it on like a light switch with ease.”
In March, Spence made a resounding statement against then-unbeaten Mikey Garcia in his PPV debut. Tired of hearing “so-called boxing experts” say Garcia, who moved up two weight divisions, was the more skilled fighter, Spence chose to put on a 12-round clinic of boxing from the outside without getting hit in return.
“A lot of reporters thought if I tried to have a battle of the minds and a mental fight with him, that he would be the better man,” Spence said. “Yet I was able to show that, all across the board, I was the better fighter.”
Spence said he didn’t get the knockout only because he chose not to, which makes you wonder whether he knew critics might use the size difference between them as a way to take credit away from his performance.
Seeing Spence so easily eschew his stalking style as a finisher in favor of showcasing his technical craft had to have been nothing but deflating for future opponents to see. Against Porter on Saturday, Spence has promised to transition back into being a seek-and-destroy puncher, which is scary enough on its own.
Should Spence do exactly what he predicted, a super fight against WBA champion and Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao could be on the horizon, along with the continued slow build toward a hopeful dual-network PPV bout against unbeaten WBO champion Terence Crawford, a fellow P4P-king contender who fights on ESPN.
Either way, Spence expects to leave his mark all over Porter in a manner so impressive that it elevates his brand to the next level. And the fact that he’s talking about doing so in such a direct and unapologetic manner shows the previously quiet Spence is truly ready to find out whether he’s the best fighter in the world.
“This is about getting a spectacular performance,” Spence said. “Becoming that PPV star and a crossover athlete means a lot, and it basically starts with every fight and putting on a great show and performance. This is the start of me becoming a great PPV star and a guy who is known as an athlete and not just a great boxer. I think me beating [Porter] up and getting a spectacular knockout, that will be me becoming the face of boxing.”
Source: Brian Campbell