When Errol Spence Jr travelled to Sheffield at the end of May last year, he did so as the IBF World Welterweight title challenger.

Kell Brook held the IBF version.  It was Brook’s hometown crowd.  The fight was at Sheffield United’s home ground, Bramall Lane. Brook’s team.  It was all set up for a hometown win.

But an 11th round stoppage by the visiting American ended any hope of a perfect night for the home crowd.  Then again, they should have known nothing was guaranteed. Kell Brook was coming into the fight off the back of his only ever professional defeat, against Gennady Golovkin.  But his opponent, three years his junior, had an unblemished record.

By the time he had Kell on his knees for the second time in the fight, it was clear he was struggling.  Kell was valiant, another eye injury hindering his vision.  Spence Jr though had backed up what Sugar Ray Leonard had said about the then 27-year-old from Texas.  He was the genuine article.

A southpaw, Spence Jr showed from the start that he had a skill set that included rhythm, sharpness and a grace befitting of the status he is now held in.  On Saturday night, he makes the first defence of his IBF belt against Lamont Peterson at the Barclay’s Centre in Brooklyn, New York.

Image Credit:  Showtime Boxing, via Facebook

33-year-old Peterson from Washington, wrote to the World Boxing Association {WBA} in early October to vacate his title, ensuring this bout could happen.  The two know each other somewhat; Spence Jr sparred with his compatriot in his amateur days.

How relevant this will be remains to be seen, but Spence Jr is taking nothing for granted and is aware a tough task lies in wait.

“I think it’s going to start out as a boxing match, but as we go on, it’s going to be a dogfight.”

“We both have big hearts. I’ve never known Lamont to turn down any fight. Not a lot of people wanted to fight me. The big names shied away from me but Lamont stood up and said he’d fight me. This is going to be a hard fight.

“Lamont can push me to even greater levels. I feel like he is a better fighter than Kell Brook and has even more heart than Kell Brook and he can bring out the best in me.”
The fight will air on Box Nation in the UK and Ireland from 1 am on Saturday night/Sunday morning.
The undercard will see American Lightweight Robert Easter defend his IBF belt against Dominican Republic southpaw Javier Fortuna.