Errol Spence Jr. will be in Sheffield, England this weekend to challenge IBF welterweight belt holder Kell Brook. It will be one of the most important fights to take place in 2017.
Both men are strong candidates to fill the still vacant spot left by Floyd Mayweather at the top of the 147-pound weight class. Spence has been hailed by many American fans as a future superstar. Brook has already demonstrated that he is an elite welterweight talent.
Notable Opponents for Both Men
Brook became the IBF standard bearer by virtue of defeating Shawn Porter in August 2014. Porter remains one of the division’s best fighters–a rugged and intelligent fighter who hustles every second of every round. While judge Dave Parris scored that fight a draw, most people agree that Brook won a decisive, if competitive, victory. I thought he did better against Porter than Keith Thurman did when they fought in June 2016.
Brook’s last fight took place against Gennady Golovkin, at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds. Brook had some very good moments in the early going of that fight–I had him up three rounds to one when the bout was stopped in Round 5, due to Brook’s broken eye socket.
Spence absolutely walked through Chris Algieri in April 2016, knocking him down three times before stopping him in Round 5. Algieri may not be an elite fighter, but he is a very good contender–he fought tough in defeat against Amir Khan. He went the distance with Manny Pacquiao and survived a brutal early onslaught from Ruslan Provodnikov, before edging the tough Siberian by split decision. Spence’s easy destruction of him was an eye opener to be sure.
Spence followed that by knocking out Leonard Bundu of Italy. Bundu had previously been knocked down and defeated in a rout by Keith Thurman. But Thurman did not come very close to knocking him out, either. Spence stopped him cold.
Big Questions for Each Man
Spence has looked tremendous against good fighters. But Brook is a notch above anybody he is seen, both in terms of skill and punching power. As great as he has looked, Spence is still very much an unknown quantity at this level.
Brook sustained a significant injury against Gennady Golovkin last September. He will also be dropping all the way back down to 147 pounds, after looking very solid at 160.
Maybe it’s because I am an American, but I am going with Spence here. I think he is the real article and has a brilliant future before him. I hope to see him fight Thurman late this year.