By Lem Satterfield
Rob Brant called IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence’s punching power “barely human,” and, “overkill,” as well as “on a different level” in comparison to 160-pound rival Ryota Murata’s. During their sparring days at R&R Boxing Gym in Dallas, Texas, Brant once “had the back of my hand bruised from blocking a shot from Errol Spence in 16 ounce gloves.”
Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) dethroned Murata (14-2, 11 KOs) as WBA “regular” middleweight champion following a non-stop, Fight Of The Year caliber toe-to-toe brawl on October 20 at Park MGM in Las Vegas.
Yet despite sporting facial bruises from their action-packed battle, Brant told FightHype.com in Las Vegas that neither Murata -- a 32-year-old 2012 London Olympic gold medalist -- nor any other opponent has hit him harder than “The Truth.”
“I’ve sparred with Errol all the way through [October 2017,] so from parts of 2014 all the way to that point,” said Brant to BoxingScene.com, having shared trainer Derrick James as Spence’s former stablemate. “I’ve got plenty of rounds in with Errol, who is very powerful and a very physically strong person with a crazy work ethic and incredible punching power.”
Brant is a transplant from St. Paul’s, Minnesota, to Las Vegas, where he spent eight weeks preparing for Murata and his initial fight under former 175-pound champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
“Bravo” faced Murata 358 days from his only loss on October 27, 2017, a one-sided unanimous decision to left-handed former 160-pound champion Juergen Braehmer of Germany in a 167-pound bout in Schwerin, Germany that represented his final fight with James.
“I remember that session where Errol hurt Rob’s hand. It was an overhand left from Errol, and Rob blocked it. The next day, Rob and I were working and I was like, “What’s that on your hand?’ Rob said, ‘It’s a bruise,’” said James of Brant, who weighed 157 ¾ pounds for a first-round knockout of Colby Courter in his previous fight in March.
“I’m like, ‘What the heck?’ Now Rob blocked the punch, but the power went through Errol’s thick hand wraps and Errol’s glove, and then through Rob’s glove and his wraps, and we’re talking about 16 ounce gloves and a punch that caused a bruise on his hand. So that’s how hard the punch was, and that’s a great indication of how Errol applies that 147 pounds of pressure through his entire body into his fists that hurt his opponents.”
The 28-year-old Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) scored his 11th straight knockout with a first-round body shot that dropped and stopped Carlos Ocampo (23-1, 14 KOs) in June at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, the Dallas Cowboys’ training center near his hometown of DeSoto.
Spence was coming off January’s eighth-round stoppage of two-division champion Lamont Peterson, and Ocampo represented his second defense of the crown won by two-knockdown, 11th-round KO of Kell Brook in May 2017 in England.
Four-division champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) is firmly committed to rising in weight to face Spence, having vacated his IBF lightweight championship, as reported by BoxingScene.com on Tuesday.
“I have watched Errol spar 17 rounds in a single day, and go hard through the Texas heat of the summer, so he’s a really hard-working dude,” said Brant.
“I think Errol is one of the best fighters, pound-for-pound and a guy that a lot of these guys just don’t want to get in there with. Once he clears out the division, I think he’ll the No. 1 fighter, pound-for-pound.”
Brant also shared James with WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo (31-0,15 KOs), the 28-year-old twin brother of two-division and WBC interim middleweight titleholder Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs).
The siblings will share a December 22 card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, where Jermell pursues his fourth defense against repeat title challenger Tony Harrison (27-2, 21 KOs), and Jermall, his initial defense and fourth straight stoppage against southpaw Willie Monroe (23-3, 6 KOs).
“I’ve never sparred Jermall, but I’ve sparred Jermell quite a bit, and he’s very fast, has great timing and he uses that quick, slick jab to hide his power shots really well,” said Brant.
“Jermell has very deceiving power, and as of late, he’s been stopping a lot of his opponents. But I’m definitely not surprised by all of the success that he’s having.”