Errol Spence Jr. has so far been the breakout star of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. The undefeated welterweight is 19-0 with 16 KOs. He has looked outstanding against everybody he has faced.
It’s true that he hasn’t been facing world beaters, but he hasn’t been fattening his record on scrubs, either. Phil Lo Greco is an experienced stepping stone who lasted the distance with Shawn Porter. Spence stopped him in three. Chris Van Heerden was a veteran who hadn’t lost in five years and had wins over fighters like Sebastian Lujan, Matthew Hatton and then undefeated Cecil McCalla. Van Heerden didn’t make it out of Round 8 against Spence.
It’s easy to understand why so many view the Texas native as a superstar in waiting.
Saturday night in Brooklyn, he gets the biggest test in his career, when he faces former world champion Chris Algieri. Algieri is definitely the sort of opponent that Errol Spence should handle if he’s really as talented as so many suspect. But it’s not the sort of fight he can afford to look past. Algieri is a big step up from anybody the young contender has faced to date.
Algieri is a smart, technically skilled boxer. He’s also extremely tough. He first gained widespread attention in June 2014, when he climbed off the canvas twice in the first round against Ruslan Provodnikov and managed to battle his way back into the ring and hustle out a split-decision victory. That fight made him the WBO champion at 140 pounds.
It also paved the way for him to fight Manny Pacquiao in November 2014. Algieri was a regrettable choice for that pay-per-view opportunity. In both physical ability and boxing experience, he was grossly overmatched against the superstar. Still, he did manage to get up from six knock downs and finish the fight. He followed the loss to Pacquiao with another, much closer, one to Amir Khan last May.
Algieri represents an outstanding measuring stick for Spence at this point in his career. Saturday night should tell us whether or not he’s star or else just another talented young fighter with more work left to do.