Errol Spence Jr. got our attention: Weekend Review
Errol Spence Jr.: I try to keep tight reins on hyperbole because I’ve seen many can’t-miss young fighters crash and burn but it’s hard not to be excited about Errol Spence Jr. The U.S. Olympian’s God-given gifts and skill set obviously are through the roof, as he demonstrated again during his fifth-round knockout of Chris Algieri on Saturday in Brooklyn. It hardly ends there, though. I’m struck by his demeanor in the ring – patient, methodical, all business, as a veteran would operate. I love the way he relentlessly batters the body, as if his quick, accurate shots to the head aren’t damaging enough. That work will pay off in every fight. And he has both the punching power and killer instinct of a knockout artist; as we saw, when Algieri was hurt, it was obvious that his night wouldn’t last long. That’s the kind of performance that prompts exhilarated fans to shake their heads in awe. And while Algieri isn’t really a top-tier talent, he’s a good, intelligent fighter who has demonstrated the ability to survive and create problems for talented opponents. The best example might be Amir Khan, who had to work hard to beat Algieri (21-3, 8 knockouts) in May of last year. Spence overwhelmed the former welterweight titleholder, who was quickly rendered helpless. I’m not sure Spence (20-0, 17 KOs) could’ve looked any better. Again, we have to withhold judgment to some degree. Spence must pass many more tests before he makes the transition from great prospect to great fighter. That said, as I look at the strong list of 147-pounders rated by the RING, I don’t see fighters with Spence’s all-around tools. I won’t make any bold predictions but I believe strongly that he has the potential to climb to the top of that list – and crack the pound-for-pound Top 10 – in the not-so-distant future.
Gary Russell Jr. (27-1, 16 KOs) also looked spectacular on Saturday, stopping Patrick Hyland (31-2, 15 KOs) in two rounds in Mashantucket, Connecticut. I always find Russell’s combination of ability and hand speed breathtaking. I still don’t know what the future might hold for him, though. Vasyl Lomachenko outpointed Russell in June 2014, proving at that time that he – not Russell – was the featherweight to beat. Would Russell fare better in a rematch? I suspect he would but only a rematch would tell. And I think Leo Santa Cruz could give Russell problems because of his swarming style. The point is this: Russell still has a lot to prove. ÔÇª Krzysztof Glowacki (26-0, 16 KOs) added some weight to his surprising knockout victory over Marco Huck in August by putting Steve Cunnningham (28-8-1, 13 KOs) down four times and winning a unanimous decision on the Spence-Algieri card. It was Glowacki’s first defense of his WBO cruiserweight title. I feel badly for Cunningham, one of the sport’s good guys who has made a habit of fighting his heart out but coming up short since he lost his 200-pound title in 2011. Cunningham is only 4-6-1 in his last 11 fights, including an 0-3 tally in world title fights. He was 4-3-1 as a heavyweight. ÔÇª Another hot, young Olympian didn’t fare as well as Spence or Russell on Saturday. Marcus Browne (18-0, 13 KOs) was lucky to emerge with a split-decision victory over capable Bosnian Radivoje Kalajdzic (21-1, 14 KOs) in an eight-round light heavyweight fight on the Spence-Algieri card. Browne, who survived a hard knockdown, obviously has work to do. ÔÇª The bout between Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-4, 18 KOs) and Yoshihiro Kamegai (26-3-2, 23 KOs) on Friday at the old Belasco Theater in Los Angeles wasn’t aesthetically pleasing and the fans couldn’t care less. The fighters served up the kind battle you dream of when you purchase your tickets or sit down to watch on a card on TV. Can’t ask for much more than that.