by Cliff Rold

For the second time in the last couple of months, we have seen a considerable blue chip talent gambled against a veteran their record suggested they might not be ready for. It was a wise gamble when Anthony Joshua toppled Wladimir Klitschko.

It was just as wise this past weekend when Errol Spence came on in the second half to break the will of welterweight titlist Kell Brook.

No matter what side of the Atlantic one resides on, both these results are reason to cheer for all fight fans. Historically, the three richest glamour divisions in boxing are welterweight, middleweight, and heavyweight. Two of the three have new faces in place to drive the future and they’re the kind of faces the sport can never get enough of.

They’re charismatic, handsome, and when they show up in the ring they are there to lay some hurt on the man in front of them. With minimal clinching, enough chin to handle solid incoming, and the ability to find a closing gear, Errol Spence suggested superstar potential.

Boxing is getting young, and healthy, in a hurry.


Let’s go to the report card. 


Pre-Fight: Speed – Brook B+; Spence B+/Post: Same

Pre-Fight: Power – Brook B+; Spence B+/Post: B; B+

Pre-Fight: Defense – Brook B; Spence B/Post: Same

Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Brook B+; Spence B/Post: A-; A

Saturday’s win was anything but easy for Spence and far from perfect. The 27-year old still has only 22 fights and lots of room to grow. Spence’s style, reliant on one of the most consistent and heavy body attacks in the game, isn’t going to leave him untouched. Finishers get hit in return. The way he gets hit needs work. Spence has a lack of head movement, and a head first aggression, that could get him in trouble someday. It got him buzzed a few times against Brook.

That’s something to work on.

What Spence showed in terms of ring character probably can’t be taught. He appeared to fall behind to a Brook who was able to land his jab and keep his back off the ropes early. It was really a sterling effort from both men but it was Spence whose focus made all the difference. He didn’t flinch from the moment or freeze on the road. He kept landing hard where he could until it started to multiply.

Brook’s finest hour as a professional, at least since he kept from falling over the brink the first time against Carson Jones, came in the tenth. Down early in the round, he dug deep and found a way to get back into the frame. Brook even backed Spence up in spots. It would turn out to be a brave final stand but makes fools of anyone who questioned his exit the next round.

Brook, his left eye injured, took a knee. He surrendered. It wasn’t for lack of heart or effort. He’d simply left everything he had behind in the previous round. He gave more than enough and owed nothing more to the masses than to say, “you’re welcome.”

With the IBF title win, Spence begins to live up to some of the predictions for his career but he’s far from done. A showdown with Al Haymon stable mate and unified titlist Keith Thurman got plenty of talk. If promotional sides could be worked out, Spence is well within his rights to want a unification showdown with Manny Pacquiao as well. The sky is the limit for Spence and if he continues to get better there are going to be a lot of sore ribs in his future for a long time.

Overdue for review is a fight from a week ago that also might play a role in Spence’s future.

Let’s go the delayed report card for Terence Crawford-Felix Diaz.


Pre-Fight: Speed – Crawford A; Diaz B+/Post: Same

Pre-Fight: Power – Crawford B+; Diaz C+/Post: Same

Pre-Fight: Defense – Crawford A-; Diaz B+/Post: A; C+

Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Crawford A; Diaz A/Post: A; B

More than one voice was raised after Spence-Brook about the long-term possibility of a showdown between Spence and Crawford. Crawford’s latest outing against Felix Diaz had all the ingredients that can explain why.

Diaz is a good little fighter. He’s quick, clever, and well schooled. Against Crawford, he was at times a plaything, a mouse being batted around by a joyfully sadistic cat. Electing to fight southpaw all night just because he could, Crawford was literally doing just that, batting at Diaz with an emasculating lead hand in the later rounds, laughing at his effort.

There’s something about Crawford beyond the evident skill, precision, and adaptability to seemingly any foe so far. It’s a mean spirit, a chip on his shoulder that belies his craftsmanship. He, like Spence or Joshua, comes to lay a hurting on people but where they seem sporting, he seems to relish the pain of foes.

When asked about it on air, he even smiled. He may or may not go down as a great, but today he carries himself with the violent arrogance and swagger of a great fighter. He took a Diaz who gives other good fighters hell and undressed him.

Who is going to throw Crawford off track at Jr. welterweight? Fellow unified titlist Julius Indongo might be trying next but he seems a long shot. Sergey Lipinets may not have enough rounds logged to be ready for the attempt. Manny Pacquiao is going to want more money than might be on the table for the time being.

Crawford feels inevitable for an eventual move to welterweight. He has the length, the frame, and the skill for the move. If and when he does, will a fight with Spence be the one we’re all talking about? A lot has to happen before we’ll know if that’s the road we’re on. Spence isn’t a small welterweight and could be gone to higher classes before the pieces fall into place.

For the moment, it’s enough to have it be a sort of floating balloon over both careers, a rainy day check to be cashed or not sometime down the road.

It’s enough to have two prime talents within seven pounds of each other right now with future’s this ripe with possibility.   

Report Card Picks 2017: 16-9 (including Groves-Chudinov and Ceja-Moreno)

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at