Errol Spence Jr. has proven himself to be “The Truth.”
The powerful American lived up to his nickname Saturday as he solidified his place among boxing’s elite with an 11th-round knockout of Kell Brook in the British champion’s hometown of Sheffield, England, to win a 147-pound world title.
An even affair through the first half of the night permanently swayed in Spence’s favor down the stretch. The southpaw dropped Brook for the second time in his career in the 10th round before gaining the stoppage in Round 11 when Brook took a knee because of blurred vision in his left eye and was counted out by referee Howard Foster.
With the win, Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) became the second member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team to earn a world title, following former 118-pound champion Rau’shee Warren, but he didn’t seem overly impressed with his accomplishment afterward.
“I give myself a B-minus,” Spence said. “I was a little bit off with my offense and defense, but I give Kell a lot of credit. This is what true champions do. You go anywhere to fight.”
Spence willingly traveled into the champion’s backyard for the first world title fight of his pro career before a hostile sellout crowd of 27,000 at Bramall Lane, a soccer stadium that was hosting just its third boxing match in 162 years and first since 1984.
The nearly lifelong resident of Desoto, Texas, worked behind a strong jab out of his southpaw stance, a weapon that would swell Brook’s left eye over the course of the fight.
The strategy went against pre-fight theories of going after the right eye that needed surgery after Brook’s loss to unified 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin in September. Instead, Spence looked to fight on his own terms.
Competing for the first time in nine months, Spence said he was affected by the layoff early in the bout, and two of the three judges’ scorecards had Brook ahead after six rounds.
Spence took control after that, though, and was ahead on all three cards by margins of 97-92, 95-94 and 96-93 at the time of the stoppage. While judges Adalaide Byrd, David Parris and Alejandro Lopez agreed on just four of the 10 completed rounds, all of them had Spence sweeping the last three.
The final scores became a moot point, though, with the first sign of an early ending coming in Round 10. Spence had seized the momentum by then, with Brook fading fast and pawing at his swollen left eye.
Spence scored his first knockdown by landing a combination of punches that forced the champion to a knee. Ever the warrior, Brook (36-2, 25 KOs) not only continued to fight, but he came back to land a right hand and test the American’s chin and heart.
“He's a true champion and I wanted to fight him,” said Spence, who gained his ninth straight stoppage victory. “He’s tricky and an awkward fighter. He's also a strong fighter who can punch.”
Ultimately, it was Spence’s strong and clean punches that proved to be the difference.
“I got caught in the seventh round in the left eye," said Brook, who was attempting to make the fourth defense of the title he earned by beating Shawn Porter in August 2014. “It was like the Golovkin fight, although not quite as bad. He caught me in the 11th and the double vision just stuck.”
Enough clean shots hit home in Round 11 to where Brook realized it just wasn’t going to be his night. As Spence moved in for the finish, the hometown hero voluntarily took a knee as he covered up to protect his left eye.
Brook attempted to beat referee Howard Foster’s count, but was clearly in no condition to continue as the fight was waved to an end.
With one world title now in hand, Spence immediately turned his attention toward becoming the undisputed 147-pound champion.
“The goal here is to unify all of the welterweight titles,” Spence said. “I want to fight Keith Thurman … and all of the champions.”
For a complete look at Brook vs Spence, visit our fight page.