By Keith Idec
Lou DiBella anticipates Lamont Peterson testing Errol Spence Jr. on Saturday night.
DiBella, who’s promoting the card headlined by the Spence-Peterson fight, considers the experienced Peterson just the type of opponent that’ll tell us how ready Spence is to move closer toward the top of pound-for-pound lists. If Spence stops Peterson, which only Lucas Matthysse has done, or dominates him on his way to a 12-round win, DiBella would consider it quite an impressive statement from the unbeaten IBF welterweight champ.
The 33-year-old Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs), of Washington, D.C., is listed by most Internet sports books as a 10-1 underdog against the 28-year-old Spence (22-0, 19 KOs), of DeSoto, Texas. Showtime will televise their scheduled 12-rounder as the main event of doubleheader from Barclays Center in Brooklyn (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“Without question, Lamont Peterson is in the top handful of welterweights in the world and is a very, very high-quality, championship-caliber fighter,” DiBella told BoxingScene.com. “So the matchup is a strong one, the opponent is a strong one. Lamont Peterson is an excellent, excellent fighter. Now, if this fight doesn’t turn out to be as competitive as many people think it will be, then that’s gonna be more of a commentary about who is Errol Spence. Because it’s very possible when you’re talking about Errol Spence, you’re talking about a guy who belongs in the same conversation as [Vasyl] Lomachenko and [Terence] Crawford.
“If you look at the fights against Kell Brook and the manner in which Spence has dispensed of some very good fighters, well now he’s going in there against a guy who’s legit, one of the best welterweights in the world. Spence is the favorite, but he’s the favorite against a guy who is on that very short list of world-class, champion-level fighters. Lamont Peterson is a serious fighter, with a great trainer and a great resume.”
Spence will make his first defense of the IBF 147-pound championship he won in his last fight. The strong southpaw knocked out Kell Brook (36-2, 25 KOs) in the 11th round May 27 in Sheffield, England, Brook’s hometown, to win the title.
The 2012 Olympian hopes to face WBA/WBC champ Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) and/or Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) in welterweight title unification fights either later this year or in 2019. Crawford, the mandatory challenger for the WBO welterweight title, is heavily favored to beat champion Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 11 KOs) when they meet sometime in April.
First, though, Spence must get past a gritty, intelligent opponent who was very competitive in his last fight at Barclays Center, a debatable majority-decision loss to then-undefeated Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) in April 2015.
“We wanna find out if this young kid, who believes he’s the best, who believes he can beat a Crawford or anybody else in the world, is this young kid thinks he is?,” DiBella said. “Is this young kid what many pundits and experts think he is? If Errol Spence is able to look great against Lamont Peterson and dominate the fight, that doesn’t cast Peterson in a bad light or indicate in any way that this was a bad matchup. That’ll speak volumes, though, about just how good Errol Spence may be. … If it turns out that the young kid dominates, then hell yeah, start mentioning him in the same breath as Crawford and Lomachenko and the Mikey Garcias and Thurmans and the handful of best guys out there.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.