Welterweight champ willing to take on all-comers—but has his sights set on a unification bout with fellow titleholder Keith Thurman.
Errol Spence Jr. wants to unify the welterweight world titles with a bout against Keith Thurman before year’s end. That was the statement he made inside and outside the ring with an eighth-round stoppage of two-division champion Lamont Peterson Saturday night in front of 12,107 fans at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Spence (23-0, 20 KOs) scored a fifth-round knockdown and brutally battered Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KOs) in the first defense of his 147-pound IBF title. It was his 10th straight knockout.
The signature victory for the man nicknamed "The Truth" followed up his display of two-fisted power, speed, accuracy, resiliency and athleticism from last May's 11th-round knockout of Kell Brook in Sheffield, England—which made Spence the first American to earn a title from an English champion on foreign soil since 2008 when Tim Bradley upset Junior Witter in Nottingham for a 140-pound title.
The back-to-back wins have established Spence as a dominant force in a division that includes Thurman and former titleholders Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Jessie Vargas. Spence also surged ahead in the running to become the preeminent welterweight in the sport following the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Spence landed more punches (161) than Peterson threw (158) over the course of the fight. Both of Peterson’s eyes were nearly swollen shut from Spence’s hard shots, prompting Peterson’s trainer Barry Hunter to stop the fight a few seconds after the bell sounded to begin the eighth round.
"I believe the ultimate win is to get a knockout or a stoppage,” Spence said. “I want to put on one-sided performances and look impressive every fight. If anyone thinks they saw some flaws in my game and they can capitalize, call me.”
Spence threw down the gauntlet on “One Time” Thurman, calling the two-belt champion “Sometime Thurman” during his post-fight interview.
Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) has made two defenses in the past 19 months—a unanimous decision over Shawn Porter in 2016 and a split decision victory over Danny Garcia in March 2017.
In a tweet following Spence’s victory over Peterson, Thurman said he would have the final say as the division’s lone unified champion.
“I see you young buck. Be patient, your time is coming," Thurman tweeted.
“ Thurman's coming off of an injury. So let him have a tune-up fight in March or April and we can fight at the end of the year. ” Welterweight World Champion Errol Spence Jr.
Thurman, who had surgery to repair damage in his right elbow following his fight against Garcia, plans to return with a tune up fight in April.
"[Thurman's] coming off of an injury," Spence said. "So let him have a tune-up fight in March or April and we can fight at the end of the year."
The 2012 U.S. Olympian is also mindful of a February 17 clash between former 135-pound titleholder Brandon Rios and Garcia, who won a 143-pound majority decision over Peterson in April 2015.
"Watching the Danny Garcia and Lamont fight, it was close and could have gone either way," Spence said. "This is a big statement [to Garcia]. I wanted to put on a better performance [against Peterson] and make it look easier than Danny did.”
"I make a conscious decision during training when I’m fighting guys and they’ve already fought another elite fighter. I always want to showcase my skills better than them. It showed with Kell Brook [who beat Porter]."
The 27-year-old Spence wants to be more active than he was last year when he fought only once. He wants to fight three times in 2018 and expects to return to the ring in June with a homecoming fight in Dallas.
"Devon Alexander says he wants to fight Errol," said Derrick James, Spence's trainer. "If a fight with either Devon or Victor Ortiz presents itself, we'd love it."
For a complete look at Spence Jr. vs Peterson, visit our fight page.