Errol Spence Jr. stepping up to 12-round rumble with Alejandro Barrera

Errol Spence Jr. has had brief fights. Lord knows, he’s had plenty of those, with 15 knockouts in 18 wins.

Errol Spence Jr.

Errol Spence Jr., who has only been taken beyond eight rounds once in his unbeaten pro career, will compete in a scheduled 12-round fight for the first time when he takes on Alejandro Barrera on Saturday in his hometown of Dallas.

If you’re math-inclined, you’ve figured out that means only three of his fights have gone the distance. One was a four-rounder in his fourth pro fight, so that hardly counts. Another was an eight-rounder in 2013. Ronald Cruz is the only man to take Spence to the 10th. For his trouble, Cruz was pounded to the point that he was on the wrong end of three 100-90 cards.

Since that bout in June 2014? Errol Spence Jr. has won in the second, fifth, fourth and third rounds, and then went all the way to the eighth before stopping Chris van Heerden on September 11.

Now, Spence has the first scheduled 12-rounder of his career when he meets Alejandro Barrera (28-2, 18 KOs) tomorrow afternoon at The Bomb Factory in Dallas (NBC, 3 p.m. ET/noon PT).

“You do it in the gym, but it’s different once you’re in the ring and the bright lights are on,” Spence said of fighting a full 12 rounds. “Once you do it, that fear factor goes away and you’re not as hesitant.

"When I went 10 rounds [against Cruz], I didn’t want to throw as much in the first four rounds, because you’ve got that in the back of your mind. You don’t want to get tired. Once you do it, that’s gone. It’s easier now. Everything is just flowing, because you know you have that confidence that you can go 10 rounds.”

In Barrera, Spence (28-2, 18 KOs) will face a tough up-and-comer fighting in the United States for just the second time. All of his other bouts have been in his native Mexico.

“From what I’ve seen, he’s tough. He’s a gritty fighter. I figure he’s going to give me some rounds,” said Spence, who weighed in today at 147 pounds, while Barrera was 146.4. "He’s not fast, not quick. His reflexes to me are kind of slow.

"I’m just going to do my thing, work behind my jab and outbox him. If the knockout comes, I’ll go for the knockout, but I’m not going to go in there and force anything.”

Although Barrera has 18 knockouts in 30 fights, he hasn’t registered a stoppage since 2013. He also has a propensity for being in close fights. Of his last seven contests, five were split or majority decisions.

Still, the 29-year-old Barrera has fought 100 more professional rounds than the 25-year-old Spence. He's also never been on the deck. Not that Spence has any concerns on that front.

“Even when I fought Chris van Heerden, they said he’s never been knocked down, he’s never been stopped, he’s never had an eight count before. I was able to drop him twice and stop him in the later rounds. I don’t think about it too much. I just break down my opponent.”

For complete coverage of Spence vs Barrera, make sure to visit our fight page.

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