Before Errol Spence Jr. took on Phil Lo Greco in June, he was scheduled to fight Roberto Garcia. It was going to be the stiffest test to date of his young career, but Garcia was forced to withdraw, and Spence did what he does: He stopped Lo Greco in three.
After the fight, Floyd Mayweather Jr., who was promoting the card, said Spence should fight Keith Thurman next. Thurman scoffed at the idea. Not that anyone could or should accuse Thurman of ducking, but his response is indicative of the place Spence is at right now: All the talent in the world, but not quite ready—by boxing’s inscrutable alchemy—to face the absolute top of the heap.
Some of that can be attributed to experience and quality of opposition. Although, judging by their records, Chris van Heerden (who was 23-1-1 when he suffered a TKO loss to Spence in September) and Alejandro Barrera (who is 28-2 with 18 KOs heading into Saturday's showdown with Spence in Dallas) aren't exactly classified as chumps.
Of course, it’s difficult for outsiders to quantify whether Spence’s quick-knockout performances have made the competition reluctant—but he isn’t uncertain at all.
“If you look good in your fights, showing a lot of power, a lot of speed, a lot of fighters, especially top guys, they don’t have to fight you,” Errol Spence Jr. said. “You’re a young guy just coming up. They can fight someone already established. Why would they take that chance? A lot of guys won’t take the chance. But it’s OK. I feel like if I keep looking good, getting my name out there, they’re going to have to fight me sooner or later.”
So who’s out there for the 25-year-old Texan as he tries to get to that spot? There are several intriguing names—not the least of which is fellow unbeaten Sammy Vasquez. The two of them go back to the amateurs together, and the idea of meeting as pros intrigues Spence.
“Sammy is in the same position I am. He’s got one foot in and one foot out, where it’s like prospect, contender, prospect, contender,” Spence said. “I think guys like Louis Collazo or Robert Guerrero or Chris Algieri, guys like that with a name where I can take the next step [would be a good fit]. Even Aaron Martinez, who beat Devon Alexander [in October] can get me to the next level where I can fight the top contenders.”
While his career path may be a bit murkey right now, one thing that is crystal clear is Saturday's clash with Barrera will be Spence’s fourth fight on network or cable television since April. The exposure should help his cause.
At the very least, it should bring in a few more Twitter followers.
“It’s doing a lot,” he said of fighting on national broadcasts. “It’s showcasing my skills. I’m moving fast, getting the TV exposure I need to become a household name. It will force these fighters to fight me, because I’m fighting on TV. Maybe next year I’ll be a main-event fighter.”
For complete coverage of Spence vs Barrera, check out our fight page.