By Keith Idec
Errol Spence Jr. will return to the ring just after the start of 2018.
BoxingScene.com has learned Spence will defend his IBF welterweight title against Lamont Peterson on January 13, Spence’s 28th birthday. Showtime is expected to televise the Spence-Peterson bout.
Spence’s return probably will be announced Saturday during a press conference in Brooklyn, before the start of Showtime’s 154-pound championship tripleheader from Barclays Center (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). The site for the card headlined by Spence-Peterson hasn’t been confirmed.
The 27-year-old Spence (22-0, 19 KOs) had hoped to box again before the end of this year, but a crowded calendar prevented that from happening. The powerful southpaw hasn’t fought since he traveled to Kell Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England, and knocked out Brook (36-2, 25 KOs) in the 11th round May 27 to win the IBF 147-pound championship.
The 33-year-old Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) will end an even longer layoff than Spence. The Washington, D.C., native last boxed February 18, when he defeated Russia’s David Avanesyan (22-2-1, 11 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-rounder to win the WBA world welterweight title in Cincinnati.
Peterson has since vacated his version of the WBA’s welterweight title. That victory over Avanesyan represented Peterson’s only fight in the past two years.
Spence, a 2012 Olympian from DeSoto, Texas, hopes a victory over Peterson will lead him toward a welterweight title unification fight against WBA/WBC champion Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) later next year. Thurman, of Clearwater, Florida, is recovering from elbow surgery performed five months ago.
If Spence beats Peterson, Thurman is expected to seek another bout before considering fighting Spence. Thurman, 28, hasn’t fought since defeating Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) by split decision in their 12-round, 147-pound title unification fight at Barclays Center.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.