Perception vs. Reality: The Truth on Errol Spence
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: January 19, 2018
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Throughout boxing history, several fighters have played the role of the boogeyman. A fighter who has the perception that other fighters are scared to step into the ring with them. In the 1980’s Cincinnati, Ohio’s Aaron Pryor thought that fighters like “Sugar” Ray Leonard avoided fights with him. Pryor would find his superstar opponent in Nicaragua’s Alexis Arguello and produced one of the most epic action-packed battles in history.
In the 2000’s Mexico’s Antonio Margarito was once labeled as the most feared man in boxing as he ran through the welterweight division. When the man known as the Tijuana Tornado faced the “Punisher” Paul Williams in 2007, that title of being the division's boogeyman transferred to Williams.
In the Mayweather-Pacquiao six-year soap opera that lasted from 2009 to 2015, Floyd Mayweather was viewed as being afraid of facing Pacquiao. At middleweight, Gennady Golovkin took on the role of boogeyman as he was unable to secure fights with named opponents for years. By 2017, fighters like Daniel Jacobs and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez participated in close and debatable contests with the Kazakhstani puncher.
In 2018, the welterweight division once again has a boogeyman. That role is now played by Texas native Errol "The Truth" Spence Jr (22-0, 19 KOs).
Spence at this time seemingly has the entire welterweight division on the run. Fighters like WBA & WBC welterweight champion, Keith “One Time” Thurman supposedly want nothing to do with Spence. Former welterweight champions Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter are unwilling or apprehensive to face Spence. However, is this all a mirage?
While perception is often viewed as reality, that is a fallacy. Only facts can be reality. Perception is an opinion; reality is factual.
The perception is that Spence would defeat any welterweight and it is only a matter of time before he does. It is factual that Thurman, Porter, and Garcia all operate in the same promotional universe. Perception has it that these fights have not happened because they are ducking Spence. However, does this mean that these matches will not happen in the future?
At this point in his career, Spence blurs the lines between perception and reality. The Texas native has the look and demeanor of champion that will have a lengthy and extended reign on top. His performances against Chris Algieri, Leonard Bundu, and Kell Brook showed that he is more than ready to take on the elite. These performances have caused many fans to crown Spence as the king of the welterweight division and a pound-for-pound top ten fighter.
In reality, Spence at 28 years of age has had just one title fight. The title fight was against Kell Brook, who was coming off a failed attempt in the middleweight division against Gennady Golovkin where he was stopped in the fifth round and suffered a broken orbital bone in the process. The victory over Brook was significant and impressive with Spence remaining relaxed and poised fighting in another man’s country. Since the win over Brook, the hype surrounding Spence has bordered idol worship and insanity. Sometimes reality can be ignored if the perception is more entertaining.
This weekend Spence will defend his IBF welterweight title against Washington D.C.’s Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs).Peterson, while mostly inactive for the past several years, is a good opponent for Spence that can test him. Against the elite of the sport, Peterson has had varied results. He came close to victory against Danny Garcia and fell off a cliff when stopped by Argentinian puncher Lucas Matthysse in the third round. Using the perception that surrounds Spence currently in the sport, even a spectacular knockout over Peterson can be classified as him “doing what he was supposed to do.”
When Spence steps in the ring against Peterson, he is battling more than just an opponent. He will try to ensure that the perception around him becomes a reality. In many ways, he is fighting himself. The truth on the “Truth” is that Spence has looked good thus far, but still has much to prove. The good news for fans is that Spence seems willing to prove that he is the best by wanting to fight the top fighters and reaching for that proverbial brass ring. As of right now, “The Truth” is more perception than reality until further notice.
(Feature Photo: Amanda Westcott/Showtime)