By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Errol Spence Jr. has drawn rave reviews for each of his past two performances.
The powerful southpaw became the only opponent to knock out Leonard Bundu when he won their IBF welterweight elimination match in the sixth round 15 months ago in Brooklyn, New York. Roughly six million viewers watched that fight, which NBC broadcast from Coney Island’s Ford Amphitheater.
In his last fight, the 27-year-old Spence (22-0, 19 KOs) traveled to Kell Brook’s hometown, dropped him twice and stopped him in the 11th round to win the IBF 147-pound championship at a sold-out soccer stadium in Sheffield, England.
Unfortunately, Spence sat out for long stretches after each of those impressive victories, which halted the momentum of one of the most talented, fan-friendly fighters in boxing.
Spence’s layoff lasted nine months between beating Bundu (33-2-2, 12 KOs) and Brook (36-2, 25 KOs). He’ll end nearly an eight-month hiatus when he makes the first defense of his title against Washington, D.C.’s Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) on January 20 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center (Showtime).
“I think I could’ve came back sooner, but I mean, timing is everything,” Spence said following a press conference Wednesday to officially announce his fight against Peterson. “I feel like the timing is right. I’m supposed to be fighting three times next year, so it’ll be a lot more active year next year.”
Spence has stressed to his adviser, Al Haymon, that he needs to fight three times in 2018. After fighting four times in 2015, the 2012 Olympian fought just twice in 2016 and once in 2017.
“It’s important for your timing and just staying fresh in the ring,” Spence said. “And I just wanna stay in the eyes of the people and let them see me a lot more, fight a lot more, so they can see me on a consistent basis.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.