Errol Spence was expected to win against Lamont Peterson last weekend. Of that, there can be little doubt. But the way Spence methodically and ultimately brutally dispatched an undoubtedly world-class opponent once again gives notice to his potential opponents at welterweight.
Peterson was 35-3-1 (17) coming in with the experience of having competed in 9* world title bouts and had only ever lost to the best in Tim Bradley, Danny Garcia – in a fight many thought he won – and against the brutal Argentine puncher Lucas Matthysse. In that last one, he got blown away in three rounds though Peterson fought silly that night taking the fight to a gunslinger like Matthysse. He rebounded by going 4-1 with the only loss the majority decision to Garcia and had taken the undefeated scalps of Dierry Jean and Felix Diaz before capturing the vacant WBA welterweight strap – since vacated – against the over-matched David Avanesyan last time out.
Against the British based Russian Avanesyan, Peterson looked huge and resembled a middleweight on fight night. Such noticeable size discrepancies were not evident on Saturday night though against the 27-year-old Spence.
Right from the first bell, it was clear Spence would approach this fight in the same manner he had all previous as he advanced forward on his opponent landing at will. After the third round it had stopped being competitive and a systematic beating was in full swing. A series of violent combos decked Peterson in the fifth and he showed tremendous character to not only whether the round but come out again for the sixth. But by then alarm bells were ringing for his head coach Barry Hunter who bluntly informed Peterson at the end of that next stanza ‘I don’t like what I see.’
Spence continued to lay it on Peterson who had sustained damage to both eyes and at the start of the 8th Hunter showed that rare commodity in the modern fight game that being compassion and a willingness to face up the reality that his fighter was sustaining a hopeless beating. He called it and as the referee waved the contest off the look on Peterson’s face was more acceptance than defiance.
For Peterson, it’s now time to retire. At 34 he’s held multiple world titles and can point to a memorable win over Amir Khan in front of his hometown of Washington, DC back in December of 2011 where he emerged from a back and forth bruising affair to annex Khan’s unified WBA & IBF Super lightweight world titles.
As for Spence, it’s onwards and upwards with the possibilities seemingly endless…..or are they? He is aligned to both Al Haymon and the Showtime network which is where you want to be at welterweight right now considering that the other big names in the division such as Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and in particular Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman are also active on the same network and have similar associations to Haymon. But simply put none of them wants to fight him.
Porter was part of Showtime’s preflight analysis team on Saturday night and seemed rather coy on the possibility referring to the fact that Spence is the IBF champion and that he isn’t rated by that organisation – farcically either is Danny Garcia, Jessie Vargas, or Manny Pacquiao despite none of them currently holding rival organisation world title belts – and that he’s more focused on a likely potential rematch with Thurman later in the year.
Danny Garcia meantime is up against Brandon Rios next in months time and Thurman is still to announce his comeback date from a long injury lay-off caused during his fight with Garcia in early March of last year when he unified the WBA and WBC straps.
The Garcia fight looks the logical match-up should Danny emerge victorious as expected against Rios. It wouldn’t be difficult to make due to both being contractually tied to the same people. But Garcia has shown little interest in the fight instead pointing to his desire to avenge his only career loss to Thurman who defeated him via split decision. Though with mandatories and the like currently forming an orderly queue to face ‘One Time’ it maybe Showtime themselves that force both Haymon and Garcia’s hand on that one.
Until then the likes of Devon Alexander and Konstantin Ponomarev may have to keep Spence occupied as he awaits the mega-fights of a division that promises so much.
Many people’s Pound for Pound Number.1 Terence Crawford is moving up to challenge the undefeated Jeff Horn for the WBO belt in April with Manny Pacquiao scheduled to feature on the undercard. All three are promoted by the rival Top Rank and appear on ESPN though so for the foreseeable future at least those avenues are blocked off.
The fight that we all want to see is, of course, the collision between both Spence and Keith Thurman. But thus far Thurman has seemed cautious at best about the prospect of that anytime soon. So don’t hold your breath for that one in 2018.
The politics aside Spence’s main ‘problem’ is that he constantly delivers the goods. Unlike some of his peers he hasn’t, so far at least, had any ‘off nights’ where he’s struggled to look good or been given the benefit of the doubt on points. He took more shots than he needed to against Peterson but did so because he knew he could afford to and actually looked like he was enjoying himself for most of the time against an opponent who on paper at least should have been if not a threat then at least highly competitive but in reality was neither. Saturday like every other night in the career so far of Errol Spence was another example of him not actually giving any potential opponents a reason to be heartened in regards to their prospects of winning.
It just goes to show that sometimes you can be too good for your own good.