Errol Spence Jr. faces Lamont Peterson in Brooklyn
Published: November 23, 2017
BROOKLYN, NY – As 2017 is coming closer to an end by the day, and boxing fans are looking forward as to what awaits them in 2018. The year seems to be off to a good start with the announcement that IBF welterweight (147) champion Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) would be making the first defense of his title against veteran Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs). The matchup will take place on January 20th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Spence is coming off of the most significant victory of his career when he traveled over to the United Kingdom and dethroned Kell Brook (36-2, 25 KOs) this past May. At the time Brook was undefeated as a welterweight with his only loss coming from a failed venture in the middleweight division against Gennady Golovkin. The Texas native was able to wear down Brook over the course of the bout and scored an 11th round stoppage. The victory over Brook caused many fans and pundits to consider Spence as the best welterweight in the division.
It has been disappointing and at points frustrating to see a young star like Spence not be more active in the last two years. Before facing Brook, the IBF champion was out of the ring for nine months after defeating the tough Leonard Bundu by sixth-round knockout in August 2016. After the bout with Brook, it was thought that he would step in the ring at least one more time in 2017 to build on his momentum. However, plans for a more active 2018 could be in order. Spence’s goals are clear in what he wants to accomplish at welterweight.
The first step for Spence to reach his goal of unifying the welterweight division is to get through Peterson in January. Peterson, who hails from Washington D.C., is a two-division champion and has stepped in the ring with accomplished fighters like Amir Khan, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse and Timothy Bradley. In his last fight, Peterson made his move to the welterweight division and won the “regular” WBA title by defeating David Avanesyan (22-2-1, 11 KOs) in February of this year. The D.C. native was thought to be one of the next possible opponents for unified welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) as he holds the “super” version of the WBA title. Peterson and his team decided to vacate the WBA title as it seemed that a title shot with Thurman was unlikely due to Thurman coming back from surgery on his right elbow.
Peterson’s career has been plagued by inactivity as he fought only once in 2017 and didn’t step in the ring at all in 2016. For many, Peterson may be taking on the more onerous task in facing Spence instead of Thurman. Throughout his career, Peterson has shown that he is willing to give a full effort whether he wins or loses. The bout with Spence will be an opportunity for him to put himself at the forefront of one of boxing's most formidable divisions.
While Spence is the favorite going into the bout with Peterson, it can be argued that the man from Washington D.C. has faced the better overall competition. Peterson is a fighter that has shown a variety of skills having fought with his jab from the outside to displaying a vaunted body attack on the inside as he hunts down his opponent.
Spence has already been crowned by many as the best welterweight on paper and has entered some pound-for-pound lists as one of the best in the entire sport. Against Peterson, the narrative will be focused on how Spence gets the victory not just if he wins or loses. This is the portion of his career where he will be measured at a higher standard than at any other point. Those who believe that Spence is not only the future at welterweight but in the sport overall will look to see him prove it against Peterson.
(Feature Photo: Amanda Westcott/Showtime Sports)