Errol Spence Jr. knows what he’s walking into when he enters the ring Saturday to face 147-pound titleholder Kell Brook in the champion’s hometown.
With a partisan crowd of about 27,000 expected to be on hand at Bramall Lane soccer stadium in Sheffield, England (Showtime, 5:15 p.m. ET/2:15 p.m. PT), Spence is getting his first world title shot against Brook, who is making the fourth defense of his championship.
“I’m going in there like the gladiator,” Spence said. “I’m going into the lion’s den and trying to win. Going in there, trying to destroy my opponent and have the crowd cheering for me in the end, just like in the gladiator movies.”
Both fighters looked in top shape at Friday’s weigh-in, with Brook coming in at 146½ pounds and Spence hitting the scale at 146¼.
Even though Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) is the established champion, having earned his title with a majority decision over Shawn Porter in August 2014, and is fighting in his hometown, it is Errol Spence Jr. (21-0, 18 KOs) who is the betting favorite to win the bout.
“I know a lot of guys want to be the underdog, but it is what it is,” Spence said. “As the favorite, I’m going to go out there and do what I do, go about my game plan.
“That doesn’t change anything with how I’m gonna go about the fight. It’s good that people rate me that highly.”
“ I’m going into the lion’s den and trying to win. Going in there, trying to destroy my opponent and have the crowd cheering for me in the end, just like in the gladiator movies. ” Errol Spence Jr., on challenging British 147-pound world champion Kell Brook in his hometown
Brook, 31, has never lost at 147 pounds, having suffered his only defeat in September when he was stopped in the fifth round by unified 160-pound world champion Gennady Golovkin. Brook suffered a broken eye socket before his corner threw in the towel to stop the fight, and needed surgery afterward.
Now fully recovered from the injury, “Special K” is confident he will retain his world title, even if most people don’t hold that view.
“I love it [being the underdog]. I was born for it,” Brook said. “People don’t have me winning this fight, but that just gives me the extra energy I need to go out and prove them all wrong.
“[Spence] is a talented guy, but he’s never been tested. He’s never been in with someone who is so determined like me—who’s bigger, stronger, who has all this energy, who’s meant for this game, who’s meant to be a winner. He hasn’t been in with someone with that mindset, and that’s what I’m coming to bring on Saturday.”
Spence, 27, became the mandatory challenger for Brook’s title when the hard-hitting southpaw gained a sixth-round KO of Leonard Bundu in New York last August. It was the 2012 U.S. Olympian’s eighth consecutive stoppage win.
After being regarded as one of boxing’s top rising stars over the past few years, the fighter nicknamed “The Truth” is ready to turn that promise into reality.
“This is my time, this is my era. This is my time to shine,” Spence said. “This is my time to get the belts, this is my time to unify and become the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. This is just another steppingstone to get to where I want to be.”
For a complete look at Brook vs Spence, visit our fight page.