This weekend, boxing continues its reign of splendor with an excellent welterweight matchup. British star Kell Brook will make the fourth defense of his IBF welterweight title when he faces off against mandatory challenger Errol Spence, Jr. The fight will take place before 25,000 fans in Sheffield, England, Brook’s hometown, at soccer arena Bramall Lane.
Brook has been a busy man recently. Last year he fought twice, successfully defending his IBF welterweight title via TKO and stepping up in weight to face middleweight juggernaut, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin for his titles.
Brook (36-1) lost the latter and a tooth in the process, but gained the respect of millions who felt he had exposed the weaknesses of the Kazakhstan champion. Since defeating Shawn Porter via majority decision back in 2014, Brook has defended the title three times, winning each by either TKO or corner stoppage. His only loss is to Golovkin, a fighter two-weight classes above him.
The British fighter has never been more confident than ever.
“This guy is a talented guy, but he’s never been tested,” said Brook at this week’s media workout. “He’s never been in with someone who is so determined like me, who’s bigger, stronger, who has all this energy, who’s meant for this game, who’s meant to be a winner. He hasn’t been in with someone with that mindset, and that’s what I’m coming to bring on Saturday.”
Enter Errol Spence, Jr.; the guy many believe is the future of the welterweight division. The former Olympian has been on a steady rise to better competition and this fight truly represents the biggest test of his career. Spence (21-0) has been on a KO streak spanning three years, knocking out his last seven opponents. His last two wins over former champion Chris Algieri in the Barclays Center and Leonard Bundu were his first as a headliner and he delivered the fireworks to potentially make him a box office draw.
Spence also has the distinction of having no former promoter behind him. Although many fight promoters made overtures to him, he understands that his performance this weekend could jumpstart his career as a boxer-businessman. The wizard of boxing himself, Al Haymon who has been instrumental in gaining him the crucial network and premium cable television exposure needed to be a star, advises him.
“This is my time, this is my era,” said Spence at the final media workout. “This is my time to shine. This is my time to get the belts, this is my time to unify and become the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. This is just another stepping stone to get to where I want to be.”
Since Floyd Mayweather, Jr’s departure from active competition, the welterweight division has remained hotter than ever. With the recent blockbuster matchups between Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia both losing to its current king, Keith Thurman, many have wondered what a matchup between Spence and Thurman would look like.
Shawn Porter recently defeated Andre Berto, becoming Thurman’s mandatory challenger for his WBC welterweight title.
Recently, Thurman issued a press release announcing his recovery from elbow surgery, but said that he was targeting a return to action for late 2017. The question remains who will he fight when he returns: the winner of Brook vs Spence, Jr. or a rematch with Shawn Porter. It must be noted that many believe Shawn Porter won the initial matchup between the two.
“It should be a tough fight that really speaks to the strength of the welterweight division," said Thurman via press release. "Both fighters are men that I would be open to fighting as I continue to unify the division in 2018. As a fight fan, let’s see what’s ‘Special’ about Kell Brook, and we’ll see if Errol Spence can show us he’s ‘The Truth.’ It should be a great fight and I’ll be watching.”
With Manny Pacquiao still out there with the WBO title and Lamont Peterson with the WBA title, the welterweight class remains boxing's money division.
Catch all the action live from Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England this Saturday on Showtime at 5:15pm EST / 2:15pm PST.