Last Saturday, Errol Spence, Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) went into the lions den known as Bramall Lane Football Ground in Sheffield, England and took the title of the indigenous champion, Kell Brook (36-2, 25 KOs).
In front of 27,000 enthusiastic pro-Brook fans, Spence remained apathetic and focused, despite a spirited effort from Brook.
Spence employed a subtle body attack and hard punches that eventually wore Brook down. However, an injury Brook suffered in the seventh round resulted in his defeat.
Spence landed a hard punch that broke the orbital bone in Brook’s left eye–the same injury he had reparative surgery for in his right eye after the Gennady Golovkin fight–combined with Spence’s work to the body that culminated in an 11th-round TKO.
Spence was up on all three judges scorecards, with scores of 95-94, 97-92, and 96-93. In claiming his first world title, Spence has not only proved himself to be as good as advertised, but he has also put the Welterweight division on notice in defeating a big, strong champion like Brook.
Now that Spence is headed back stateside with the IBF strap, what’s next for the 27-year-old Texan?
In the post-fight interview, Spence made it perfectly clear what his plans are. “The goal is to unify the titles. I want to fight Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao. I want to fight the champions, unify the division and become the undisputed champion of the world,” declared Spence.
Unfortunately for Spence, the future Hall of Famer and current WBO champion, Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) is slated to fight Jeff Horn on July 2 in Brisbane, Australia presenting an immediate roadblock for this fight.
Another roadblock is the contentious relationship between Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank and Al Haymon, who represents Spence. The bitter rivals settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by Arum against Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions just last year.
These issues make a potential bout between Spence and Pacquiao highly unlikely, but not a complete impossibility.
A fight with Thurman is more likely, as he–like Spence–is represented by Haymon. However, there are impediments to this matchup coming anytime soon. Thurman is recovering from elbow surgery on his right elbow. Also, there’s a pesky mandatory match with Shawn Porter on the table.
Spence elaborated on how long he’s been wanting the Thurman fight. “I’ve been calling Keith Thurman out for a long time. You say I have to prove myself and I haven’t fought anybody, well I just beat the so-called biggest welterweight in the division, Kell Brook. So now, Keith Thurman, come out. It’s time to fight,” said the newly crowned IBF champion.
Minutes after the fight, Thurman sent out a congratulatory tweet with a caveat, that read, “Congrats EJ, but there is no true king until you see me. #OneTime.”
— Keith Thurman Jr. (@keithfthurmanjr) May 27, 2017
While a fight with Thurman would be the most lucrative and beneficial for Spence in achieving his goals, there were two other prospective opponents in attendance that night in Amir Khan and Thurman’s aforementioned mandatory, Porter.
Even though both fighters are coming off losses in their last outings, both matchups would generate interest among fans while Spence waits for the other titleholders in the division to face him.
For Spence, the Welterweight division is his for the taking now that he has the leverage, and the hardware, to make the most of his aims at the undisputed championship. He is hitting his prime and has the potential to beat Thurman, Pacquiao, Porter and Khan.
Whoever decides to challenge him for his strap better be prepared and on their A-game.
Who would you like to see Errol Spence, Jr. fight next?
Header photo by Amanda Westcott/Showtime