Errol Spence Jr, a boxer with Jamaican heritage, will defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight title tonight against former World Boxing Association champion Lamont Peterson at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York. This is regarded as the first major fight for 2018, and is attracting a lot of attention worldwide. It will be broadcast on Showtime.
Spence, who is aged 27, is an Olympian, having represented the USA in 2012 in London where he finished in the quarter-finals. He also reached the quarter-finals in the World Boxing Championships. With these amateur achievements behind him, he signed a professional contract with Al Hayman, one of the most influential men in boxing in the USA, and became IBF champion last May by defeating Kell Brook in London. Brook took some hard shots from Spence during the fight, and lost by technical knockout in round 11 after suffering a broken orbital bone.
A hard-hitting southpaw, he is regarded as the top welterweight boxer in the world, and 33-year-old Peterson gave up his WBA title for the opportunity to fight Spence rather than a lesser-known opponent. There is some irony to this, as a young Spence used to spar with Peterson, who was then a more experienced boxer. He guided Spence in the early stages of his professional career. They therefore know each other very well, but vowed at the weigh-in yesterday that “this is business, and when we get into the ring tomorrow we will be trying to knock each other out.”
Spence has an impressive 22-0 record with 19 knockouts, while Peterson’s record is 35-3-1 with 17 knockouts. Spence, who has been installed as the favourite, said yesterday: “I think that it is going to start out as a boxing match, but as we go on it is going to be a dogfight.” A lot of action is expected, and the predictions are that after a close, hard battle, Spence will win by technical knockout in the later stages of the fight.