AFTER dethroning IBF welterweight titlist Kell Brook via 11th-round knockout at Bramall Lane in the champion’s hometown of Sheffield, Errol Spence is now setting his sights on a homecoming of his own in Texas, before hopefully meeting fellow American Keith Thurman in a unification contest.
“[WBC and WBA 147lb champ] Keith Thurman’s out for a while [following surgery on his right elbow], so maybe I could fight at home in Dallas at the American Airlines Center [in the meantime], then fight Thurman at the end of this year or early next year,” Spence stated.
Reflecting on his breakout win over Brook, Spence believes his punishing body work paid dividends in what was a very close fight for the first eight rounds.
“I always attack the body,” said Spence. “When you’re going 12 rounds, later on you wear your opponent down if you’ve been going to the body. That’s what I did. There was a point in there when I thought I could stop him if I jumped on him. So I jumped on him and stopped it going to the scorecards.
“In the eighth or ninth round he was wearing down a bit, and I started pressing the action. I hit him with some shots and he was standing still a little bit more. Then I saw him blink [with his injured left eye – later revealed to be a broken orbital bone], so I decided to jump on him in the ninth and 10th round.”
Prior to the bout, some observers had questioned whether Spence would be able to stand up to Brook’s power. The 27-year-old southpaw was happy to have proved that his chin can take a weighty whack from a top-class puncher.
“He hit me with some good shots, but it was nothing that ever hurt me,” Spence remarked. “A lot of people had those questions, like ‘Can Errol Spence take a punch?’ I think I proved a point – that I can take a punch from a big, strong welterweight.
“He was strong, he was fast. He lived up to the expectations [of him] that me and my coach had. We knew that he was a good athlete, and that he could punch. I had to go into the fire and show true grit.
“This was a great experience in my young career. Fighting in the champion’s hometown in front of thousands of screaming fans in my first world title fight. It was a great atmosphere. The fans were awesome. They came to support their hometown guy. I said I was going to use that [hostility] as motivation, and that’s what I did. I tried to silence the crowd. I proved myself. I proved that I can pull it out when I have to.”
As one of three world title-holders at welter (along with Thurman and WBO boss Manny Pacquiao), there is much debate as to who is the true leader at 147lbs. Following the impressive nature of his triumph over Brook, Spence believes that man is him.
“Kell Brook is one of the most skilled fighters in the welterweight division, and he’s one of the biggest and strongest too. So I think I am the best fighter in the welterweight division right now.
“[After the fight], he told me, ‘Congratulations’, and he said, ‘Respect’, and I’ve got nothing but respect for him, because he’s a true champion. I wanted to fight a champion. I didn’t want to fight just another ranked guy for a vacant belt. He gave me the opportunity, and I thank him for that.”
Also present at the post-fight press conference was Brook’s promoter, Eddie Hearn. As well as informing those in attendance that the Spence fight was more than likely Kell’s last appearance at welterweight, he also gave an update on Brook’s condition.
“Kell’s gone to hospital,” Hearn notified. “It’s the same injury as in the [Gennady] Golovkin fight, but on the other eye, which is unbelievable. But it was caused by Errol, so there are no excuses. He was beaten by the better man.”