Despite a couple hiccups as he adjusts to the new taste of his growing fame, the Dallas, Texas native isn't going to let anyone—whether it be an overzealous fan in a restaurant or unbeaten Mexican contender Carlos Ocampo, who he faces this Saturday night on Showtime—get in his way of becoming the undisputed welterweight champion of the world.
Errol Spence Jr. was enjoying dinner with his family in a dimly lit posh restaurant in New York City in late April. Chomping away with a fork in one hand and a knife in the other, he was interrupted by a faint tug on his shirt sleeve. Somehow, someway, someone recognized the IBF welterweight world champion’s face between the shadows.
At first taken aback, Spence was his typical courteous and obliging self, shaking hands with the man, and then willing enough to get up and pose for a few cell phone shots. And a few more, and a couple more after that.
“I had a fork in my hand, and a knife in my hand, the man wants me to take a picture, right in the middle of having dinner with my family,” Spence said, laughing. “I love my fans. I do. But it was kind of aggravating after a while, because the guy was taking advantage while I was right in the middle of having dinner with my family. I didn’t want to say no. But the guy kept wanting me to get up to take a picture right then when I was eating my food. That’s the only thing that sticks out to me that I kind of get frustrated over.”
Stardom knows no bounds when it comes to star-struck fans. Spence better get used to the growing attention almost everywhere he goes, even in delicately lit upscale eateries.
This is a huge year for Spence, the brilliant 28-year-old southpaw from DeSoto, Texas, who is making his second title defense against undefeated Mexican Carlos Ocampo (22-0, 13 KOs) this Saturday night on Showtime (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) before an expected sellout crowd at the Ford Center at The Star, in Frisco, Texas—the training facility for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Spence-Ocampo main event will be joined by WBA super bantamweight champ Daniel Roman (24-2-1, 9 KOs) making his second title defense against unbeaten Moises “Chucky” Flores (25-0, 17 KOs), along with former two-division champion Javier Fortuna (33-2-1, 23 KOs) taking on Adrian Granados (18-6-2, 12 KOs) in a 10-round junior welterweight bout.
The attraction of the event is Spence (23-0, 20 KOs). “The Truth” has stopped his last 10 opponents inside the distance, going back to June 2014. Ocampo, 22, has not fought since November 2017 and hasn’t ever fought outside of Mexico. Spence doesn’t care. He promises to continue his dominating ways.
“Definitely, it’s going to be another great one-sided, action-packed performance,” Spence said in his smooth, Texas Southern drawl. “I think I’ve evolved more as a fighter in how much more comfortable I am in the ring. That comes with simply fighting more. I’ve seen more situations against top athletes and top boxers, and I know what to expect.
“ I’m not overlooking him. Don’t get that wrong. He was probably poor, so he’s hungry. This is his dream. I just can’t let someone like Carlos Ocampo detour my route for bigger fights ahead. ” IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol Spence Jr. on Carlos Ocampo
“I’m getting used to the outside the ring stuff, too. No matter where I am, Los Angeles, Las Vegas or New York, someone notices who I am. It’s great. It shows me that all of my hard work is paying off and what it means to be a true superstar in this sport. It’s great going to these other cities and seeing people come up to me—except when I’m eating dinner.”
Spence laughed again.
“I’m looking forward to this,” Spence said. “I’m fighting before my home crowd, my people. But I have to be honest, when [Ocampo’s] name was brought up as my next opponent, I didn’t know who he was. He’s my mandatory, so I would rather get it out of the way now, rather than have it as a bump in the road later on when I’m trying to get bigger and better fights.
“I respect Ocampo, but there is nothing that I see about him that’s special. He is young and undefeated, so he will come to fight. Mexican fighters are known to be durable, but there is nothing I see that concerns me. Ocampo is a guy who tries to think in the ring a little too much. I’m not overlooking him. Don’t get that wrong. He was probably poor, so he’s hungry. This is his dream. I just can’t let someone like Carlos Ocampo detour my route for bigger fights ahead.”
Spence’s goal is to be the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. He says his weight is right on, so that won’t be an issue. He stresses the pressure is on him, though he always says the pressure is on him.
“I’ve been dealing with it ever since I first stepped into the ring,” Spence said. “This is just another fight for me. I had a great training camp and I feel great.”
If Spence keeps on winning—and there is no reason anyone at 147 can stop him—he better expect dinner to be interrupted more often in the future.
For a closer look at Errol "The Truth" Spence Jr., check out his fighter page.