The Truth About Errol Spence
(By Sean Reed)
If not quite a household name, "Errol Spence" has increasingly resonated within professional boxing circles, the last few years. A byproduct of his run of U.S. amateur success, the 2012 London Olympics, positive feedback from his prizefights, the urban legend of his sparring exploits, the growing number of seasoned trainers impressed with his skill-set and demeanor, or all of the above, the name is obviously on your radar. Embarking on his 19th punch-for-pay contest, and co-main event status vs. Alejandro Barrera (28-2, 18 KO's) on this Saturday's nationally broadcast, NBC's “Premier Boxing Champions” undercard (2PM CST on NBC), we'll sift through what's real and what's Memorex in the fistic existence of Errol "The Truth" Spence, Jr. the #10 ranked welterweight in the world by the IBF, WBA, WBC, and Ring Magazine.
You've heard stories of pugilistic prodigies coming out the womb throwing check hooks and lead counters, not Errol Spence. There's also endless tales of angry, troubled youth, devoid of positive male role models, straightening their lives out via discipline and structure, part and parcel with an early doors indoctrination to boxing. That doesn't apply to Spence either.
Errol Spence, Jr. didn't find the sport until he was 15 years of age. Nonetheless, after a brief test-drive with controlled sparring, success was rather immediate. Spence was raised in a stable, middle-class environment, with two loving, supportive parents ever by his side. While certainly no saint or choirboy, Errol isn't a thug, criminal, woman beater, or gangbanger. He's anything but the stereotypical juvenile delinquent, using boxing to find refuge from the trappings of so-called "street life". Spence's earliest boxing memories consist of watching Lennox Lewis defending the heavyweight championship of the world, on pay-per-view at a Dallas barbershop. Like Lewis, Spence's father, Errol, Sr., is of Jamaican descent so father and son made a point of tuning in whenever Lewis fought.
One particular summer, while searching for a productive activity to occupy his athletic son's time, Errol Sr. suggested boxing. After finding a gym, Spence was almost immediately thrown into deep waters didn't like it, but eventually warmed to the task. The rest just may be history in the making. Since 2005, Errol, Jr. (or "E.J.", as he's often referred) has littered the Spence family trophy case with just about every major amateur boxing award imaginable. Among them, three consecutive U.S. Men's National titles, two National P.A.L. (Police Athletic League) championships, a National Golden Gloves title and an Under 19 National Championship. If there was an American amatuer boxing accolade or tournament to be won, Spence rose to the occasion and seized it. He ruled the very competitive 152 pound division with an iron fist, for several years, culminating in a spot on the 2012 United States Olympic team.
EJ's Olympic Odyssey
Basking in the pre-Olympic glow, Spence remained grounded with around the clock support from mom and dad and trainer Derrick James, himself a former participant at the 1992 U.S. Western Olympic Trials. James brought roughly 400 bouts of amateur experience and a professional record of 21 - 7 - 1 (12 KOs) into E.J.'s life and the results have spoken louder than any words could. Spence a true student of the game is an avid watcher of fight footage, to see what he can learn, add to his arsenal, and use to dissect potential opponents. Under James' tutelage some days his visual training would consist of fellow southpaw Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whittaker, other days Roy Jones Jr., Floyd Mayweather, Terry Norris, and an assortment of others. With the Olympics looming, a Dallas area club show ring announcer anointed Errol with the moniker he carries today, “The Truth” EJ is quick to add “Me and Paul Pierce”.
Make no mistake, fans, coaches and even former Olympic gold medalists Oscar Dela Hoya and "Sugar" Ray Leonard were baffled and bothered that the 2012 class of male boxers came home with no jewelry to speak of, a first for the United States. Having said that, the larger problem is, the American boxing program has been on a slow, steady decline since 1988, producing only eight medals in those Olympics, four in 1996, two in 2004 and one in 2008. For what it's worth, Spence advanced as far as any other 2012 U.S. Olympian, reaching the quarter-finals, where he lost to eventual bronze medalist, Andrey Zamkovoy of Russia. But the moment that left an indelible impression upon American fight fans was Spence's bout prior, a win over India's Krishan Vikas, and the ensuing drama. Initially, Vikas was awarded a 13-11 decision, which puzzled commentators, coaches, fans and even the referee, who mistakenly raised Vikas' hand in victory. Heartbroken by what appeared to be the end of his Olympic dream, Spence gave a tearful post-fight interview, baring his soul for all to see. Right then Errol Spence, Jr. endeared himself to millions of sports fans worldwide who may have otherwise been indifferent, consequently becoming the darling of the 2012 team.
USA Boxing appealed the decision to the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA), who re-watched the fight and overturned the verdict. It was determined the referee didn't caution Vikas enough times for holding and the ringside judges failed to tabulate at least four of Spence's earned points. Shockingly the decision was reversed; Spence was credited with a 15-13 win and advanced to the quarter-finals. Boxing legends the likes of Evander Holyfield, Mayweather and Jones, Jr. all suffered controversial Olympic losses, but none were able to get those unjust rulings righted, the way Spence did.
Just like that, the London Games provided the platform and exposure, but what would Spence do with it? Enter Al Haymon. The decision to sign with Haymon reaped immediate dividends, as five of Spence's first six bouts appeared on noteworthy undercards and / or were televised. That trend has continued as EJ’s career progresses. Haymon's promotional influence also had a positive effect on Spence's sparring, as he was brought in to help Mayweather prepare for southpaw Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero, in 2013. When asked if he was nervous, Spence said, "No, I was excited. How many young fighters can say they sparred with the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?" Mayweather is known for spewing verbal excrement and trying to get in the heads of those brought in to work with him, and Spence was no exception. "The day before we first sparred, I was working out and he yelled “Who is that motherfucker hitting my bag”, but other than that, Floyd was real cool. I definitely held my own and I learned patience and how to stay calm being there." Spence wouldn't dwell on it, but he actually marked the fighter formerly known as "Pretty Boy", under his right eye. But he was quick to point out Floyd left him with a battle scar under his own eye as well. Touché. Spence was unsure of the exact amount of rounds he sparred with Mayweather but estimates they did seven or eight different sessions of eight rounds per session with each round going five minutes. Prior to it becoming common knowledge in boxing circles, Spence left Adrien "The Problem" Broner out on his feet during a sparring session, Spence would break into a wide grin when asked about the validity of the gossip. Today, Errol minimizes the moment, stating it was “a while ago” when he sparred Broner despite their size difference; Spence treats his pockets of work-out success as mere footnotes.
It looks as if Errol Spence Jr. may be in title contention by the end of 2016, and with a victory Saturday could be ranked as high as 3rd by the IBF. He also picked up the IBF International Welterweight title in his last fight, an 8th round stoppage of #7 ranked Chris Van Heerden. Don’t miss Spence’s home history making debut Saturday afternoon!
No Lie, Errol "The Truth" Spence Fights in Dallas November 28th.
(By Sean Reed)
It's been a long time coming, but at last, highly touted prospect, Errol "The Truth" Spence, will throw hands in his home city of Dallas, Saturday, November 28th! The 2012 U.S Olympian will square off with Alejandro Barrera (28-2, 18 KO's) live on NBC's "Premier Boxing Champions" card which begins at 2PM CDT, from The Bomb Factory in downtown Dallas.
Spence (18-0, 15 KO's) has plied his trade on numerous televised cards and finds himself within smelling distance of world championship contention, after beating the brakes off former #7 IBF contender, Chris Van Heerden, in his last fight. At the same time, Barrera, from Mexico, relishes the opportunity to make a name for himself at Spence's expense. "This is a great opportunity to showcase my skills on a big stage", said Barrera. "I am always in great shape and I plan on giving the fans a great fight. November 28th, I will announce myself to the world with a great performance."
Oh by the way, there's also an IBF super welterweight affair the same afternoon, between defending champion, Jermall Charlo (22-0, 17 KO's) and Wilky Campfort (21-1 (12 KO's).
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GENNADY GOLOVKIN VISITS THE METROPLEX
(By Sean Reed)
This past Sunday, unified Middleweight champion of the world, Gennady Gennadyevich “GGG” Golovkin, moseyed on down yonder to Texas, as a special guest of Jerry Jones and “America’s Team”, our beloved Dallas Cowboys. The first time “Triple G’s” ever seen the sport played in person, in fact. Nonetheless, despite an unblemished record of 34 wins, no losses/draws (with 31 knockouts), even the mighty Golovkin himself could do nothing to prevent the Cowboys from suffering their sixth consecutive loss, this time to the Philadelphia Eagles, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
The following morning, “Triple G” held a press briefing with the local boxing media to elaborate on his visit; Make no mistake, this was a business trip. Sights squarely set on the November 21 clash between lineal Middleweight champion, Miguel Cotto and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Team Golovkin is astutely planning its next move. “Canelo sold 30,000 tickets in Houston, but I think with Gennady and a unification fight like that, Dallas Stadium would be the perfect location for that. That would be the biggest event in boxing. If Cotto wins, can’t take anything away from Miguel Cotto now that he’s training with Freddie Roach and has rejuvenated his career, that would be the biggest fight in New York City, in Madison Square Garden for example, because they both sold out in Madison Square Garden,” said promoter, Tom Loeffler.
Golovkin has shown proficiency in cutting off the ring during bouts, and appears equally adept at cornering foes on the business end of his sport too, going out of his way to create scenarios where the two biggest names on the horizon have little choice but to consider him monetarily and otherwise. When quizzed about the likelihood of moving up to Super middleweight, assuming the Cotto-Canelo winner chose not to face Golovkin, trainer, Abel Sanchez, didn’t mince words, “If that happened, the boxing media should shame them into fighting him!”
Golovkin has no preference on who he’d rather face next, but appears to be leaning towards Alvarez to emerge victorious November 21st, stating “I think Canelo is better, he looks better, stronger, younger, more of a chance in the first half of the fight. In the second half, maybe Cotto, he is more experienced.”
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