By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – “The Truth” hurts.
Just ask Lamont Peterson.
Errol Spence Jr. displayed the power and skill that have made him one of the best boxers in the sport, and stopped Peterson after seven one-sided rounds Saturday night at Barclays Center. The younger, stronger Spence was entirely too much for the former two-division champion while making the first defense of the IBF welterweight title he won from Kell Brook in his previous fight.
Barry Hunter, Peterson’s trainer, asked for referee Harvey Dock to stop Spence’s brutal assault just as the eighth round began before a crowd of 12,107.
“I wanna thank Lamont,” Spence said. “A lot of guys turned down the fight, and he took it like a real warrior and I commend him for that. … I know Lamont. He’s a tough fighter. He’s willing to die in there. You saw his coach had to stop the fight because he wanted to keep fighting.”
Spence, of DeSoto, Texas, moved to 23-0 and recorded his 20th knockout. He dropped Peterson in the fifth round and continued to viciously bombard his brave but overmatched opponent until the fight was stopped.
Before Spence stopped him, Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KOs) had lost just once by knockout during his 13-year pro career. Lucas Matthysse stopped Peterson in the third round of that May 2013 fight in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Nearly five years later, Peterson understood Hunter’s decision to prevent him from continuing against Spence, who repeatedly hurt Peterson to the head and body.
“I always respect Barry’s decision,” Peterson said. “If he asks me to fight a million people, I will. If he asks me to stop, I’ll stop. I will never question his decision. I know he has my best interests at heart.”
Once Spence dropped Peterson, it was only a matter of time before the powerful southpaw finished him. Hunter conceded that his courageous veteran was in over his head and needed to be saved from himself.
“It was really hard,” Hunter said. “But if you know Lamont, you know he wasn’t gonna give up. So I had to stop it. At the end of the day, this is my son right here. And there’s nothing more valuable than his well-being. If it comes to him or winning, I pick him. I care about him.”
Spence picked up in the sixth round right where he left in the fifth. He hammered Peterson with left hands and nearly closed his right eye.
A left hand by Spence dropped Peterson with just over two minutes to go in the fifth round. Peterson reached his feet, but Spence pounced on him.
Trying to trade with his hard-hitting opponent proved to be disastrous.
A courageous Peterson waved Spence forward. Spence happily obliged by battering Peterson with an array of lefts and rights that continued causing swelling around the right side of Peterson’s face before the fifth round ended.
Dock warned Spence for hitting Peterson low about a minute into the fourth round. Peterson pressed forward and eventually landed a right hand that landed flush on Spence’s jaw.
Spence responded quickly by unloading several left hands that prevented Peterson from punching.
Spence connected with a left to Peterson’s body just before the midway mark of the third and followed it up with a left hook up top. Peterson fired back soon thereafter, though, with multiple left hooks that got Spence’s respect.
Spence opened up on Peterson to start the second round, only to have Peterson connect with a straight right hand that got Spence’s attention less than a minute into the round. Spence came back later in the second to buzz Peterson with a right hook that made Peterson move away from him.
As good as he was Saturday night, Spence sees plenty of room for improvement.
“I still can improve a lot on my defense,” Spence said. “I just have to keep perfecting my skills and keep progressing. You’re gonna see a better Errol Spence next time I get in the ring.”
Spence, 28, made the first defense of the IBF 147-pound championship he won from England’s Brook on May 27 in Sheffield, England, Brook’s hometown. The 2012 Olympian separated himself from Brook later in what had been a competitive fight and knocked out Brook in the 11th round.
Peterson, 33, fought for just the second time since defeating Felix Diaz by majority decision in October 2015. The former IBF/WBA 140-pound champion won a version of the WBA welterweight title in his last bout by beating Russia’s David Avanesyan (23-2-1, 11 KOs), who lost a unanimous decision to Peterson on February 18 in Cincinnati.
Peterson, who gave up that title for a shot at Spence, will contemplate retirement after suffering such lopsided loss.
“That’s something that I would have to think about in the next few weeks,” said Peterson, who’ll turn 34 on Wednesday.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.