By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Errol Spence Jr. didn’t mean any disrespect to Lamont Peterson.
They continued to demonstrate strong regard for one another at a press conference Thursday in Manhattan for their fight Saturday night. Despite the lopsided odds on their fight, Spence expects a real challenge from Peterson when they square off at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (Showtime; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
The point Spence attempted to make was anyone that takes issue with him defending his IBF welterweight title against Peterson should direct his or her complaint elsewhere.
Spence gladly would’ve fought Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter in his first defense of the IBF welterweight title. Thurman is still recovering from elbow surgery, but in Spence’s mind, that doesn’t absolve Garcia or Porter from heading in different directions when their adviser, Al Haymon, proposed facing Spence to them.
“I haven’t been as active recently due to waiting,” Spence said during the press conference. “I had to wait for my title defense and things like that. And I had a lot of guys not answering the call. A lot of guys, Al’s been calling these guys. … When reporters mention my name, they try to make an excuse, this and that. OK, now I have a belt. I went over there and got the belt. So what’s the excuse now?
“I have a belt and I’m still calling these dudes out – Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, all these guys. We wouldn’t be sitting here if Keith Thurman or Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter said they’ll take the fight. I shouldn’t be a world champion and having to call these dudes out. And Lamont Peterson answered the call, like a real fighter and like a real soldier should do.”
Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC), who owns the WBA/WBC welterweight titles, could return sometime in April for his first fight since edging Garcia by split decision in their championship unification fight March 4 at Barclays Center. The Clearwater, Florida, native has frustrated fight fans and Spence himself by suggesting that he won’t consider another unification fight against Spence until 2019.
Las Vegas’ Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) is the mandatory challenger for Thurman’s WBC title and has said that he won’t fight again until he gets his rematch with Thurman. Philadelphia’s Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) will face faded former lightweight champ Brandon Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs) on February 17 in Las Vegas.
As much as Spence would like to fight Thurman, Garcia or Porter, the DeSoto, Texas, resident won’t wait around for his next title defense, the way he did before Washington, D.C.’s Peterson accepted this fight.
“I wanna fight three times a year,” Spence said. “I’m gonna stay active. I’m not gonna sit and wait. I’m not gonna wait on anybody. Something you don’t get back is time. You don’t get time back. So I’m not gonna wait around and be waiting for fighters to get ready and, you know, they need to have tune-up fights or they wanna fight me in 2020 and things like that. You know, I’m not gonna wait at all.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.