Avoiding hype is bordering on impossible in any sport, let alone in boxing where hype is the biggest selling point in the industry.
Just look at fighters of the highest calibre such as Guillermo Rigondeaux or Vasyl Lomachenko. The pair could be set for a collision course, but the hype surrounding the two technicians just doesn’t do justice to the potential match up itself.
It’s hard to distinguish between over hyping a fighter that is not deserving, and underselling another who deserves the plaudits.
Remember about a month ago, Lomachenko looked set to face Nicholas Walters but HBO rejected the bout! Yet HBO decide to air Manny Pacquiao’s third installment with Timothy Bradley on Pay-Per-View.
Quite rightly Pacquiao and Bradley have earned their lofty statuses in the sport, but why should their contest, that failed to capture the imagination of the fans, be considered PPV worthy when they won’t even air a truly fantastic match up between Lomachenko and Walters.
Unfortunately for those two the hype just isn’t there right now, but for Errol Spence Jr, he has had no problem converting his furious performances into glittering reviews:
As I mentioned last week on Jim Lampley’s The Fight Game (Overtime), @budcrawford402 and @ErrolSpenceJr seem to be a cut above. #boxing
— Max Kellerman (@Max_Kellerman) April 17, 2016
Crown him. Get Errol Spence Jr. a title shot. Now.
— Brian Campbell (@BCampbellESPN) April 17, 2016
After a disappointing finish to his amateur career, Spence Jr has racked up 20 wins without a blotch on his resume, and his latest performance highlighted the improvements this 26 year old Texas fighter is making.
Spence Jr demolished Chris Algieri in 5 rounds – a boxer who had previously gone the distance with Manny Pacquiao in a one-sided affair, while pushing Amir Khan hard over the 12 rounds.
Spence Jr’s lofty ranking with the IBF now sees him within one victory of becoming the mandatory challenger for Kell Brook’s Welterweight crown – with Brook taking his last mandatory in March, he will likely have until December this year to make his next.
Not a huge Welterweight, Spence Jr looks likely to be a fixture in the 147lbs division for some years to come, giving hope to match ups with the likes of Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan and many others.
There are very few faults to pick up from Spence Jr’s recent displays – and there’s little point looking at contests prior to 2015, particularly when you are evaluating a young fighter who is improving and learning with each passing bout.
He has 17 stoppages on his resume, including 7 on the bounce which have included toughest foes to date in Chris Van Heerden and now Algieri.
(Highlights of Spence Jr vs Van Heerden via PBC):
Spence fights out of the southpaw stance, but carries power in either hand. His work inside is quality for a fighter with a 72” reach – a very similar reach to the other leading Welterweights.
The various angles that Spence Jr sets his punches up from, make it both difficult to identify which punch will be coming his opponents way, and it also makes it difficult to set up counters.
Often boxing on the front foot, Spence Jr is able to multiple the damage caused by his punches, but he seems to have the attributes to box at a safe distance.
Whether he can keep his power on the back foot will be discovered when coming against the aforementioned fighters, who also enjoy most of their successes from center ring.
Through his aggressive but controlled style, Spence Jr takes very little back in reply, therefore knowledge on his chin is at a minimal.
But Errol always looks in control of his balance thanks to good footwork when throwing his own shots.
Spence Jr also carries with him a solid guard, and one that stays solid when letting his hands go, an attribute that takes a lot of time and practice to perfect.
What happens when Spence Jr is faced with the challenges that the likes of Brook will present is yet to be seen.
His final eliminator that is not yet set in stone will be unlikely to tell us much more, but he would be wise not to take the unbeaten Konstantin Ponomarev lightly, with a shot at world honours so close.
Another contest will likely ensue once his final obligation with the IBF is complete, before a November or December clash with the undefeated Brook.
Maybe a contest with the awkward Devon Alexander will tell us more about Spence Jr in a contest with a fighter that will still be producing quality work in the later rounds – remember despite being in the ring with many big hitting Light Welterweights and Welters, Alexander has never been stopped.
Alexander can be bullied in the ring, but his long rangy – and most notably southpaw – style will offer Spence Jr with problems he has yet to face as a professional.
Matching Spence Jr with a former two time world champion like Alexander will be relatively easy to sell as the headline act on one of PBC’s free-to-air-TV cards.
It also provides Errol with the sort of experienced foe that he will need to have faced prior to taking on one of the division’s elite.
And that is when all the hype will become mere irrelevance.
Hype will sell a fighter to the public in the present, but only performance will sell a fighter to the public in the future.
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