Returning to the USA from across the pond as the new IBF welterweight champion of the world hasn’t fully sunk in for Errol Spence Jr.
The unbeaten 27-year-old Texan from Dallas silenced a raucous crowd of 27,000 Saturday night at the Bramall Lane Football Ground in Sheffield, England, on Showtime with his 11th-round stoppage of hometown favorite Kell Brook. Along the way, hard-hitting Spence broke the champion’s left eye socket, forcing Brook to take a knee in the 11th.
Taking a title from a British fighter on British soil is a rarity for U.S. boxers.
Spence was the first to do so in nearly a decade, after Timothy Bradley Jr.’s upset of Junior Witter in Nottingham in 2008 to bring the WBC 140-pound belt back to California.
Spence wasn’t even aware of his accomplishment.
“I didn’t know that until I saw Showtime put something on Instagram,” Spence (22-0, 19 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, told USA TODAY Sports by phone Thursday. “I knew it’s been a while, and I know U.K. fighters have been on a great run lately. It seems like the tide is turning a little bit.”
Indeed, the tide is turning. That includes Baltimore’s 22-year-old Gervonta Davis, who traveled to London a few weeks ago to defend his junior lightweight title for the first time and earned a dominating third-round KO of Liam Walsh.
After Spence’s win, his Twitter timeline was filled with congratulatory messages from athletes from various sports, including pal Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III, football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, NBA star Damian Lillard and boxers such as ex-heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis and current champions Terence Crawford and Keith Thurman.
“That was one of the best moments, you know, having great athletes all around the NFL, NBA, different celebrities congratulating me and telling me how great I did,” Spence said. “That they took time just to watch my fight, that was big to me.”
Thurman, the undefeated WBC and WBA welterweight champion, added a note to Spence that he would not be the true welterweight champion until he goes through Thurman. That won’t happen until at least early 2018 because Thurman recently had surgery on his right elbow and is out for the rest of 2017.
That was disappointing news for Spence, whose wish list goes only two deep at the moment.
“Really, Keith Thurman and (WBO welterweight champion) Manny Pacquiao are the only two fighters that I want to fight right now,” said Spence, who fights under the Premier Boxing Champions banner. “I really don’t have any names after that. Before I was willing to fight anybody in the top 10. But now things are different. Like I said, tables do turn.”
Spence also hopes to turn the tables and make football-crazy Dallas find a place for boxing. Spence is only the third Dallas-area boxer to become a world champion, joining Curtis Cokes and Quincy Taylor.
“You know, Dallas is a boxing city,” he said. “We have a lot of Hispanic people who love boxing. It’s just like when Manny Pacquiao came here and fought, it had big numbers. And when Canelo (Alvarez) came here, it had huge numbers. People will come out if there’s somebody worth watching, and I feel like they will come out and support me.”
And like Pacquiao anbd Alvarez, Spence can see himself someday fighting in the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
“Definitely, though I don’t see it right now,” Spence said. “Maybe I’ll fight at The Star, in the Cowboys’ training facility. I heard that seats about 10 or 11 thousand, or American Airlines Arena. But I could see me fighting (at AT&T) eventually.”
For now, though, Spence will relax and enjoy his newly minted status. But there’s no time for developing a big head.
“I still have much to accomplish, like getting the other belts,” he said. “It was a very proud moment for me, but I know there is still a lot left to accomplish.”
Source: Bob Velin| US Today