Spence vs. Peterson: 3 Keys to Victory
Errol Spence Jr. and Lamont Peterson will face each other Saturday night for a heated matchup in the Welterweight division.
Here’s everything you need to know: Peterson is an underrated veteran fighter from Washington DC. He’s been in the game for a minute, so hardcore boxing heads are more familiar with him than our fair-weather fans.
Spence Jr. is a force to be reckoned with (literally), known affectionately for his knockout power and no-nonsense approach in the ring. He initially made a name for himself as a top prospect in the beginning of his career, and now faces one of boxing’s most seasoned vets who will put Spence Jr.’s boxing IQ to the test.
1. Work the Jab (consistently)
Lamont Peterson has to consistently work the jab throughout the whole fight, not just in the first couple of rounds. What’s beautiful about Peterson’s style is that he likes to work on the outside, moving around the edge of the ring, but he’s also not afraid to punch in close proximity to his opponent.
While Peterson’s diversity in style is an asset, he needs to be mindful that Spence Jr. is a pressure fighter. This means that Spence Jr. will continue to come forward unless Peterson gives him something to think about, like a power jab.
Since the jab, a straight punch thrown with the lead/front hand, is closest to the other person, it can be used to neutralize an aggressive opponent and buy time before throwing other punches.
By working the jab, Peterson can stay active and take breaks when needed without appearing too comfortable to Spence Jr.
2. Work in the Pocket
The bulk of Peterson’s labor in this fight should be in the pocket, which is boxing-head speak for “don’t let that man out of your sight.” Working in the pocket means staying within close punching range of your opponent. This can be risky, especially with a power puncher like Spence Jr., but Peterson has the footwork and fluidity for the task at hand.
Predicting how Peterson will fight is difficult. The man is a wild-card; sometimes he comes to box, sometimes to brawl, and other times a little bit of both. Peterson has more of a boxer-sorta-puncher style, but I think he works at his best in mid-range (right in front of the opponent) and on the inside.
Though the threat of Spence Jr.’s power and pressuring style is real, this can be an effective strategy for Peterson, as pressure usually needs to be met with more pressure. Peterson needs about two to three rounds max to collect enough data on Spence Jr. and take control of the pace and style of the fight.
Peterson’s hooks are seriously underrated. Though it’s not a quality he’s known for, the seasoned vet has hands down some of the best hooks in boxing. They have power, but even more importantly they’re swift and accurate. Spence Jr. has an issue with keeping a tight guard, especially in close range, so there will be several opportunities for Peterson to catch him.
Here’s why hooks will seal the deal for Peterson: Often the punches that hurt the most are the ones you don’t see coming. Spence Jr. has a tendency to be flustered by long combinations, so if Peterson lets his hands go, he can in the very least, take control of the pace and gain a decent lead on the scorecards.
Errol Spence Jr.
1. Don’t Back Up
Errol Spence Jr. has a lot of strengths, but fighting going backwards is not one of them. In fact, backing up might be the most harmful position he could put himself in during this fight.
Pressure fighters are the epitome of being able to dish it but not take it; they’re so comfortable coming forward and being the aggressor that they don’t learn how to make adjustments when someone else puts the pressure on them.
If Spence Jr. starts to back up during the fight, he’s more likely to be tagged with punches and will lose his sense of authority in the ring. He needs to be mindful of where he is in the ring at all times, and favor circling, as well as left and right movements, over going backwards.
2. Move After Combinations
Again, the trouble with a physically solid power puncher like Spence Jr. is that they’re most comfortable coming forward. In his previous fight against Kell Brook, Spence Jr. would often stand right in front of him after throwing a combination. This gave Brook way too much confidence, and way too many opportunities to catch him with punches.
Spence Jr. shouldn’t repeat this with Lamont Peterson. I’m not saying that he needs to have a bouncy, Muhammad Ali-style of movement, but simply keeping his feet fluid (not flat), will allow him to be more agile and defensively-sound. In other words Errol, just move after punching—and keep your hands up!
3. Be First
This should be an easy one, as Spence Jr. is used to putting the pressure on folks. The thing is though, he’s going up against a seasoned fighter who isn’t intimated by his 86 percent KO ratio, however impressive a stat that may be.
Peterson has pretty much seen it all, so he’s going to try and impose his game plan as quickly as possible. Peterson may have a more impressive résumé than Spence Jr., but he can overcompensate by setting the pace. The easiest way for Spence Jr. to establish the pace in this fight is by being first at every opportunity.
Spence Jr. is especially talented in putting his punches together in crisp, ripping combinations. He’s also gotten better at knowing when to step on the gas. By consistently being first in the fight, Spence Jr. can build his confidence and figure out how to put Peterson where he wants him before he goes for the knockout.
Header photo by Tom Casino/Showtime