The welterweight division is arguably boxing’s best. It is loaded with talent, including several men who have a claim as the sport’s mythical pound-for-pound king.
Errol Spence Jr. staked his claim as the division’s best on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with a thorough victory over Lamont Peterson. Spence outclassed Peterson, a solid, high-level pro, from start to finish when trainer Barry Hunter asked for the bout to be stopped just as the bell sounded for Round 8.
Spence looks to be the next in a long line of welterweight greats, following in the footsteps of Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran, among many others.
He battered Peterson in every way possible Saturday, brutalizing him to the body, pummeling him to the head and controlling every aspect of the fight.
Like most greats, Spence seeks perfection and he somehow found fault with his performance Saturday.
“I still can improve a lot on my defense,” he said in the post-fight interview. “I just have to keep perfecting my skills and keep progressing. You’re going to see a better Errol Spence next time I get in the ring.”
That’s a frightening thought for those in boxing’s best division. A division which includes former super lightweight champion Terence Crawford, who is expected to fight Jeff Horn for the WBO title in New York on April 14 in his welterweight debut; WBA-WBC champion Keith Thurman; the legendary Manny Pacquiao; and ex-champions Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Jessie Vargas.
Peterson fought with his typical courage and ferocity, but was no match for Spence. He was dumped in the fifth and took a ton of hard shots. Hunter said he didn’t like what he saw after Round 7 and elected to stop the bout.
“It was really hard, but if you know Lamont, you know he was not going to give up,” Hunter said of his decision to stop the fight. “So I had to stop it. At the end of the day this is my son right here. And there’s nothing more valuable than his well-being. If it comes to him or winning, I pick him. I care about him.”
Spence said he hoped to fight Thurman in his next bout. Thurman hasn’t fought since his unification bout with Garcia in March. He had surgery and was married after the bout and has said he wants a tune-up before taking a major bout.
A Thurman-Spence bout would be huge, but clearly, Spence wouldn’t be outgunned.
“Everybody knows I’ve been waiting on ‘Sometimes’ Thurman,” Spence said, mocking Thurman’s “One Time” nickname. “Since I was 15-0, I’ve been calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses. Let’s get it on.
“I want Keith Thurman. He has two of the belts and we both have big names. It’s an easy fight to make and I want it.”