THE coming weekend sees a big show in Las Vegas topped by Adrien Broner versus Shawn Porter at the MGM Grand – but as fascinating as that match is, there’s a boxer on the undercard who deserves attention.
Errol Spence Jnr is a welterweight from Texas who just might turn out to be the best of the 2012 US Olympic team. That squad has gone down in history as the American outfit that failed to win a medal, but I don’t think it was quite as bad as people made out.
Never mind that international amateur boxing can be a murky world of alliances and rivalries that often produces bizarre results bearing little relation to punches actually thrown and landed. Sometimes boxers can be unlucky with the draw and sometimes they can just be better suited to the pro game with its longer distances and tendency towards heavier punching.
The American team at London three summers ago obviously doesn’t bear comparison to the 1976 Montreal squad – for me still their best – or the 1984 Los Angeles line-up, but it was better than the 2008 one and possibly that from 2000 as well.
It’s still too early to issue a definitive judgement; bear in mind that this year has seen the crowning as world pro champions of two Beijing 2008 Olympians in Deontay Wilder, the USA’s sole medallist at those Games, and James DeGale, Britain’s middleweight gold star in China.
That’s seven years from Olympics to professional glory. Following a similar timescale, we can expect 2012 Olympians to win world titles in 2019.
Will Spence be one of those? So far the signs are good. The southpaw from Desoto has won all his 16 fights, 13 inside the distance, and the opposition has been stepped up gradually. His opponent on Saturday (June 20) is Roberto Garcia, a 35-year-old Mexican who has beaten Breidis Prescott but lost to Antonio Margarito, so it’s a fight Spence should win while learning bit more about the paid sport.
Bear in mind also that Errol boasts influential Al Haymon as his adviser, and one can assume he will continue to get the right fights at the right time; no late-notice jobs or giving-weight matches will be needed for the Texan.
Haymon’s numerous TV deals have left him plenty of holes to fill on his shows, but it remains to be seen if he will soon start serving up his declining names to the rising ones. However, if he were to go down that road, why not match Robert Guerrero with Spence later this year?
“The Ghost” has recently been walloped by Keith Thurman before scraping past Aaron Martinez, and is showing the signs of wear and tear. He would go a long way towards telling us if Errol Spence Jr is for real.