Errol Spence Jr. wasn’t particularly impressed with his performance on Saturday in Sheffield, England, in the biggest match of his career when he challenged Kell Brook for the IBF welterweight championship.
Spence was probably the only one who felt that way, though. The DeSoto, Texas, native, was sensational from start to finish, going to Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England to take his welterweight title from him with an 11th round knockout before 27,000 fans at Bramall Lane Football Grounds.
The repeated pounding of Spence’s jab caused Brook’s left eye to close and he couldn’t see as the fight wound down. Spence dropped Brook in the 10th with a flurry of punches and then won in the 11th when Brook took a knee and waited out the 10-count from referee Howard Foster because his vision was impaired.
The victory raised the 2012 U.S. Olympian’s record to 22-0 with his 19th knockout and affirmed the predictions of greatness that were bestowed upon him when he turned professional. He was compared to many of the greats, particularly Sugar Ray Leonard, and more than lived up to the hype, even if he didn’t think so himself.
“Oh, there were no doubts at all, but I have to give myself a B-minus,” Spence said. “I didn’t think I did too good. I think I was a little off on my offense and my defense.”
Spence was leading on all three cards at the time of the stoppage. Adelaide Byrd had it 97-92; Alejandro Lopez had it 96-93 and Dave Parris had it 95-94. Yahoo Sports had it 96-93 for Spence at the time of the stoppage.
Spence used a hard jab that he repeatedly thundered in Brook’s face, as well as a hook to the body. As the fight wore on, both punches took their toll. Spence turned Brook’s left eye into a mess, and the champion was retreating after taking so much to the body.
“It was a tough fight and Spence is one of the best kids I’ve been in with, if not the best,” Brook said, a notable statement considering he fought unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in his last outing.
Spence was behind on the cards at the midpoint, but he didn’t panic. He had watched film of Brook and felt if he pushed the pace, it would turn the tide in his favor.
That is exactly what happened as Spence poured it on and Brook couldn’t match it.
“I felt like I was behind and I wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be,” Spence said. “I decided to press the action and come forward more and basically break him down and press him out.
“I watched some of his fights and he likes to fight at a certain pace. Once you pick up the pace on him, he kind of breaks down a bit and he can’t throw a lot of punches. I decided to press the action, make him fight at a pace he didn’t want to fight at. He started breathing hard and slowing down and I knew I had him.”
He did, indeed, and took his place among boxing’s best. He said he wants to fight WBA-WBC champion Keith Thurman or WBO champion Manny Pacquiao next, either of which would be great matches.
But Spence proved his greatness on Saturday, even if he couldn’t see that himself.