147-pound champion from Dallas, Texas may be a man of few words—but "The Truth" plans to back up his nickname once again on Saturday night against former two-division champion Lamont Peterson in IBF title fight on Showtime.
The words come out of Errol Spence Jr. in a slow, deliberate manner. The Texas southpaw never seems to be rushed, or his mind preoccupied. He even moves at a deliberate pace throughout his house, doing mundane chores most world champion fighters don’t do—not even some fathers. He’ll cook breakfast for his 1-year-old and 2-year-old baby girls. He’ll change their diapers and drive them to daycare. Nothing rattles him. Nothing ever seems to move him from his routine.
That grounded mindset hasn’t changed since he first started fighting and it may never. It’s the secret of his success, Spence feels. And it’s a reason why he has been so comfortable and relaxed heading into his welterweight title defense this Saturday night against former two-division world champion Lamont Peterson. The fight airs live on Showtime (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Spence (22-0, 19 KOs) will be defending his IBF belt for the first time since shaking up the boxing world by dominating Kell Brook in Sheffield, England last May. He carries a nine-fight KO streak, which dates back to June 2014. When fight experts talk about the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world Spence is in the discussion.
But you wouldn’t know it talking to Spence. His nickname “The Truth” is no hyperbole. It’s a reflection of his nature.
Spence calls this balance a strength.
“It’s the way I like it,” Spence said. “It’s the way I am, for the most part. There might be some days when I’m overly happy, but for the most part, it’s even keel for me. People ask me all of the time why I’m like this. I tell them it’s just who I am. It’s why I like training camp near home in Texas. I’m with my girls, changing diapers, getting them ready for daycare and cooking breakfast and dinner.
“It keeps my mind at ease. I’m still a normal person at the end of the day. I’m still me. You see guys all of the time lose who they are once they taste a little success and money. My girls motivate me to keep doing what I do. I do what I do for my kids to benefit and one day go to private school, and so they can one day have a trust fund. I fight for them to have a better life, and better life than what I had growing up.”
“ For the most part, it’s even keel for me. People ask me all of the time why I’m like this. I tell them it’s just who I am. ” IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol Spence Jr.
A typical day means he’ll get up around 10 a.m., wake the girls up and give them a bath, take them to daycare and then drive to the gym. His girls know him as “daddy,” not one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
By working over a decade with trainer Derrick James, one of boxing’s best trainers, they have developed a solid working relationship. James likes that Spence responds well to his coaching. He noticed an improvement in the way Spence cares for his body, taking ice baths and conditioning up to two weeks before fights.
“Errol listens well,” James said. “One thing about being a fighter and a trainer, you can work with a fighter on how to throw a punch and do certain things. Once Errol sees that something works, he’s not going to deviate from it. He’s going to keep using it. Errol wants everything to go right. This year, we’re going to see the depth of Errol’s knowledge. We’re going to see a more intelligent Errol Spence. We’re going to see an even more powerful Errol Spence.
“When we first started, I saw a video of Errol saying he didn’t like me. We both laugh about it now, but I asked him why he said that. He told it was because everything he was doing I told him was wrong. My goal was to teach Errol how to do it right. Once he got it, once there was trust there between us, he started to flow and everything has been going great.”
Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) is a danger to Spence. Peterson is 4-2 over his last six fights, and is very knowledgeable of the fact that if he suffers another loss to a prime contender, someone like Spence, it could place him into the gatekeeper category.
“Even with Kell Brook, we didn’t just focus on what he did well, it’s always been focusing on what I do well,” Spence said. “If I stay focused and 100-percent, there’s nothing Lamont Peterson can do to negate what I do. Even with my defense, I don’t work on just blocking the jab, I work on everything. I work on how to make my counter punching better, improving my jab.
“It’s really about me. With Lamont, he has a lot of heart. He’s never been in a bad fight. I respect him. I know if he’s down, he’s going to try and get back up. If he needs to stick his head there, he will. But I have the same attributes, too. Lamont will pose the same threats as any other fighter. But I feel I’m going to be in better shape than he will.
“My mind is great. I’m already on weight. I’ll be in even better shape than I was for the Kell Brook fight. I feel stronger than I did for the Kell Brook fight. And everyone saw what happened there.”
For a complete look at Spence Jr. vs Peterson, visit our fight page.