By Keith Idec
Errol Spence Jr. and Jermell Charlo are rare in that each unbeaten champion consistently spars against someone that’s better than his upcoming opponent.
The Texas-based boxers will be beyond prepared for title defenses next month thanks in large part to their spirited sparring sessions throughout this training camp in Dallas.
Spence spoke Tuesday about how much working with Charlo has benefited him in advance of a mandatory defense of his IBF welterweight title against Carlos Ocampo on June 16 in Frisco, Texas.
“It’s not every day that you spar somebody, you know, every other day, who’s as sharp as Jermell,” Spence told a small group of reporters. “I mean, he’s a world champion, he’s big, he’s sharp, he throws good one-twos. It’s world-caliber sparring.
“It’s not like sparring a guy who’s a real sparring partner, you know, used to getting beat up and used to taking punches and don’t really have that competitiveness that a world champion has. He don’t wanna take second place to me, so he’s gonna work harder and grind harder. And we just push each other to another level.”
Spence, 28, and Charlo, also 28, both are trained by Derrick James at R&R Boxing Club in Dallas.
Houston’s Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs) will defend his WBC super welterweight title a week before Spence opposes Ocampo. Like Charlo, Ocampo is right-handed.
Charlo will square off against Austin Trout (31-4, 17 KOs), a former WBA 154-pound champ from Las Cruces, New Mexico, on June 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Spence and Trout both are southpaws.
Showtime will televise the Charlo-Trout bout as the opener of a doubleheader. In the main event, WBA “super” featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs) is set to defend his title against Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) in a 12-round rematch.
The following Saturday, Spence will meet Mexico’s Ocampo (22-0, 13 KOs). Showtime also will air their 12-rounder from Ford Center at the Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.