UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Errol Spence Jr. will spar Monday for the first time since suffering injuries in a car accident 11½ months ago.
Derrick James, Spence’s trainer, informed BoxingScene.com that Spence is scheduled to spar Monday at James’ gym in Dallas. Coincidentally, Spence’s first sparring session since his October 10 accident will take place on the one-year anniversary of his 12-round, split-decision victory over Shawn Porter in their welterweight title unification fight last September 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 30-year-old Spence has been training since March, but he hasn’t sparred during that six-month span.
“I’m not really worried about it,” said James, who worked Jermell Charlo’s corner in his eighth-round stoppage of Jeison Rosario on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. “I’ve been with him and his reaction time and his timing is great. I push him, so he’s moving and reacting the right way. The sparring is just, in a sense, a continuum of what we’ve been working on. It’s about how many shots he didn’t get hit with. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what I care about.”
James expects Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) will want to push himself even in his first sparring session because the IBF/WBC welterweight champion already is in tremendous shape for his fight against Danny Garcia on November 21. Spence’s trainer estimated that he weighs approximately 158 pounds, just 11 above the welterweight limit eight weeks before he’ll square off against Garcia in a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event at an undetermined location.
“You’re talking about Errol Spence, man,” James said. “He’s gonna wanna go at least 10 or 12. He’s in shape. Put it like this – he can go as many rounds as his sparring partner can go, because he has been training for months.
Spence suffered dental damage, as well as cuts and scrapes to his face and body in his one-car accident in downtown Dallas. His Ferrari was traveling at a high rate of speed when it veered over a median and flipped multiple times.
Spence, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was ejected from his car. He spent almost a week at Methodist Dallas Medical Center and later was charged with a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated.
The strong southpaw from DeSoto, Texas, insisted on facing a top opponent in his first fight since the accident. Philadelphia’s Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs) is a two-weight world champion who has lost only a split decision to Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) and a unanimous decision to Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs), both former welterweight champs.
James is confident Spence is more than ready for that type of test in his first fight since opposing Porter.
“It’s been going good,” James said. “His body looks amazing. He looks like he would right before he weighs in now. He’s in great shape. He came in like two or three days for the camp with Jermell. It was a big pick-me-up for the camp.”
Spence’s trainer thinks he’ll resemble his usual elite self once he starts sparring again.
“I’ll look to see him be himself,” James said. “Even before, in training camp, I saw him in March, when he was just coming off the accident, being out of shape and having to deal with that, to then build, build, build, build to being in better shape, better shape, better shape, to where he is now. It’s been amazing. It’s been a process. He’s been training since March, so what you’ll see is a guy who’s been preparing for a fight, not a guy who’s been training for six or eight weeks, but a guy who’s been training for months. We worked out the kinks and everything like that.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.