This was the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Prodigious young Errol Spence took on an elite opponent Saturday, Kell Brook, and beat him, establishing himself as an elite fighter himself, the kid who could one day rule the sport.
It was not an easy outing on Showtime for the once up-and-coming, now fully realized, welterweight. Brook is fast, smart and hits hard (just like Brook), and early on his speed and intelligence controlled the action. He was moving forward, surprisingly, and connecting with sneaky hard left uppercuts. The normally aggressive Spence, meanwhile, established his jab and began to dig into the body where he likes so very much to dig.
Through four rounds, this scribe had Brook up 3-1, although it could’ve been the other way around. But Spence was heating up. By the middle rounds, it was back to even.
It changed in the 7th, according to Brook, when his left eye — punished by all those jabs, landing with alarming accuracy — began to feel funny. By the middle of the 8th, Spence was coming on hard, punishing Brook to the body in particular. The 9th was a downright massacre: It looked like Spence was about to drop him.
Welcome to the 10th, which is when Spence did just that on a combo. Brook was hurt, bad. But he also was still Brook, a guy who responds to adversity with ferocity. He surged back, not enough to win a point back from the knockdown but enough to make it a helluva round.
In the 11th, all that damage to the left eye got Brook to the point where he said afterward he had double vision. So he took a knee and took the 10 count. It was surprising given Brook’s proven grit, but if a fighter can’t see, he’s under no obligation to continue.
Both fighters came in with handicaps; Spence was rusty from a layoff, Brook had to lose a lot of weight to get to 147. You wonder how much better the fight would’ve been if both men were on point, but it was a wonderful contest between two savvy, swift and powerful boxers.
Spence wants Keith Thurman next. Oh god yes. But it’s hard not to look even further down the road, and be wistful, about the possibility of Spence vs Terence Crawford. Should Spence beat Thurman (a makable fight given the Al Haymon adviser alliance), and could Showtime and HBO set aside their rivalry, Spence vs Crawford would be for all the marbles in boxing, period.
(Spence, left, connects on Brook; via)