By Jake Donovan
True to his nickname, Errol Spence is "The Truth,"
The unbeaten 2012 U.S. Olympian certainly looked the part in his latest performance, dropping Chris Algieri three times en route to a one-sided 5th round knockout in their NBC-televised main event Saturday evening at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. New York.
Speculation going in was that Algieri - the fighting pride of the Huntington section of Long Island, New York - would prove to be the toughest test in the young career of the unbeaten welterweight contender, given his level of opposition. It never came close to being true, as Spence - who was born in Brentwood, Long Island and had a sizable rooting section in the venue - established an aggressive pace early in the fight and never took his foot off the gas.
Whereas Ruslan Provodnikov, Amir Khan and the legendary Manny Pacquiao were all extended the distance by Algieri, this one never had a chance of seeing the final bell. Cognizant of being compared to the aforementioned, Spence and his team put in the necessary work to dissect his opponent's past performances and capitalize on any mistakes or bad habits.
"He leans in a lot. Every time he ducked, we landed with that left hand," Spence pointed out after the fight. "His eyes were looking down every time and we were able to catch him."
It was a boxing lesson before the knockdowns began rolling in, although Spence laid a firm foundation. Algieri is a notorious slow starter, which only added to his woes against one of the more promising young talents in the sport. After a clean opening round, Spence began landing with conviction in rounds two and three, particularly upstairs with his left hand
The comparison to past performances by Algieri began rolling in with the first knockdown of the fight, which came in round four. Spence caught the former champ clean with a left hand shot, adding to an early lead but suddenly creating the sense that he had no intention of hearing the final bell.
Algieri dusted himself off and made it out of the round, briefly reverting back to his teenage years as a high school wrestler in tossing Spence to the canvas late in the frame. The unbeaten Texan laughed off the sequence, confident that he was well on his way to closing the show.
That moment came one round later.
The beginning of the end came with a flush left hand shot that drove Algieri to the canvas early in round five. He'd been down twice versus Provodnikov and went on to win the fight and a 140-pound title in this very venue nearly two years ago, He was also dropped six times by Pacquiao in his next fight five months later in Macau, China.
On both occasions he managed to make it to the final bell, as he did in a hard-fought 12-round defeat to Amir Khan at Barclays last May. Spence skyrocketed past that impressive list of talent, never letting the New Yorker off the hook - literally.
Adding to Algieri's woes in addition to the knockdown early in round five was the fact that he fell awkwardly on his right ankle upon hitting the canvas. He limped up to his feet but was wobbly - from the punch more so from the injury - and knew there was little chance of surviving.
"I don't want to take anything away from this young, hungry lion," Algieiri (21-3, 8KOs) noted after the fight, despite given the opportunity for an alibi. "I might've tweaked it (right ankle) but I don't want to take away anything from this young kid."
His inability to recuperate left him a sitting duck for a savage left hook that crashed across his chin in sending him to the deck for the third time in the fight.
This time, referee Benjy Esteves sensed a finished boxer in front of him and waved off the contest without issuing a count.
The official time was 0:48 of round five. Algieri suffers the first stoppage loss of his career, with all three career losses coming in his last four starts.
As for Spence, losing hasn't been an option since his controversial exit from the 2012 London Olympics. The U.S male squad was remembered in infamy for failing to bring home a single medal. Still, the team has found considerable success in the pro ranks, but with Spence targeted among the lot to ultimately shine the brightest.
Considerable distance has further been placed between Spence and teammate Marcus Browne, an unbeaten light heavyweight from Staten Island who struggled to a disputed split decision win over Radivoje Kalazjdic earlier in the evening. There hasn't been any struggle for Spence, who has looked brilliant every time out to date, more so than ever in his debut as a televised headlining act.
Spence has been a major benefactor from the development of adviser Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) series. Saturday's bout was his fifth straight televised appearance under the format, including four on free-to-air NBC. He never looked better than he did in on Saturday evening and in primetime roughly an hour away from his birth town.
"It meant a lot to come back here," Spence (20-0, 17KOs) said of returning to New York, where he fought a year ago. "This is where I was born; this is where my family is from and they showed me a lot of love in supporting me tonight."
The birthplace for Spence is the Brentwood section of Suffolk County (Long Island), New York. The area also produced James "Buddy" McGirt, the first-ever world champion from Long Island who went on to win titles in two divisions before becoming a world-class trainer.
Algieri is also on the short list of Long Island-born champs, which in effect could make Saturday's bout a passing of the torch moment for Spence. He proudly represents Desoto, Texas these days, but the only future destination on his mind is atop the welterweight division.
In his future could very well be a shot at welterweight titlist Kell Brook. The unbeaten Brit is fresh off an early knockout win over Kevin Bizier this past March and eyeing a big fight for his next ring appearance.
He now has at least one willing participant.
"I'm the number one contender to Kell Brook," said Spence, who didn't at all mince words in declaring his future intentions. "He knows what time it is."
Regardless of whether that fight materializes, facing the very best in the always loaded welterweight division is chief on the mind of the 26-year young boxer. Whether it's the winner of the June 25 clash between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, unbeaten two-division titlist Danny Garcia , or even recently retired legends Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, no big is off limits.
"I want them all," Spence simply stated after the fight.
With his fighting style and personality, the truth is that The Truth has officially arrived.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox