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Errol Spence proved his supporters right: Weekend Review

29
May

One gifted fighter was as good as billed on Saturday in the U.K. His opponent again fell victim to a second elite opponent and more bad luck. And a determined Englishman finally earned a major belt.

Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers over the weekend.

 

BIGGEST WINNER



Errol Spence: There are many talented boxers out there. Few of them do what Spence did on Saturday in Sheffield, England, the hometown of opponent Kell Brook.

Spence looked great on paper going into the fight: skillful, quick, powerful and everything else you look for in a rising young star. The one thing missing was a credible foe. A lot of people believed he could beat Brook but no one could’ve known with any certainty.

Now we do, which changes the way we perceive the former U.S. Olympian.

Spence (22-0, 19 knockouts) said afterward that he didn’t feel sharp early in the fight after a nine-month layoff, the longest of his pro career. That might’ve been the case but the challenges he faced had more to do with Brook’s ability than any ring rust.

The fighters gave and took for six-plus rounds, neither being able to separate himself from the other. And then, when Brook’s left eye socket was broken, Spence pulled away to win his first major title.

The injury obviously played a role in the outcome; Brook more or less stopped being Brook when his eye began to feel as it did when the other eye socket was broken against Gennady Golovkin and he lost vision, as he claimed afterward.

That shouldn’t detract from Spence’s accomplishment, though. He fought at an extradordinary level and appeared to be getting stronger as the fight progressed. And success is often realized when a boxer recognizes an opportunity and seizes upon it, as Spence did so effectively against his wounded prey in Sheffield.

He was good, he was smart, he was poised. He was the fighter that so many of us thought he could be. And he’s just getting started.

 

BIGGEST LOSER

Kell Brook: Brook (36-2, 25 KOs) might be remembered more for his bad luck or weak facial structure than his accomplishments in the ring.

The now-former 147-pound titleholder was roughly Spence’s equal for half a fight – much as he was for a short time against Golovkin – and then, if reports are accurate, he suffered a second broken eye socket, which evidently played a role in his demise. Brook’s right orbital bone was broken against GGG in September and repaired shortly after their fight.

Of course, Brook was devastated on Saturday night. He lost his title belt in front of his hometown fans and he once again faces an uncertain future because of his injury. He probably never felt lower.

I think there’s reason for optimism, though.

One, Brook looked good against one of the most gifted fighters in the world until the eye was injured around the seventh round. The unusual ability is clearly there. And, two, surgery could solve problems with his eye sockets once and for all.

The surgically repaired right eye – complete with a titanium plate – held up well in the fight, as his doctor had predicted. If he has the same operation on the left eye, maybe he will have put the issue behind him both physically and in terms of confidence.

Brook, 31, obviously has a lot more to give, most likely at 154 pounds. We all hope he recovers quickly and gets back into the mix.

 

RABBIT PUNCHES

George Groves deserves a lot of credit for his perseverance. A mentally weak fighter might’ve been broken by two brutal knockout losses to rival Carl Froch in title fights he was winning on the scorecards, the latter in front of 80,000 at Wembley Stadium. And, in his third title shot, he lost a split decision to Badou Jack.  Groves (26-3, 19 KOs) finally got over the hump on Saturday, brutally stopping former titleholder Fedor Chudinov (14-2, 10 KOs) in six rounds on the Spence-Brook card. Groves looked as much relieved as pleased when he thrust his hands in the air after the fight was stopped. … Orlando Salido (44-13-4, 31 KOs) was as entertaining as usual against Colombian Aristides Perez (30-10-2, 16 KOs) on Saturday in Mexico but he also did something he hadn’t done in more than 2½ years: He won a fight. Salido got off the canvas to render Perez unable to continue after seven rounds, his first victory since he stopped Terdsak Kokietgym in September 2014. He had a disputed loss and draw against Roman Martinez and a draw with Francisco Vargas since then. Salido still has some fight left in him at 36. At least he had better hope so. It looks like a second fight with Vasyl Lomachenko is in the works. Salido roughed up and narrowly outpointed Lomachenko in 2014. The guess here is that the Ukrainian has learned a few things since then. … Anselmo Moreno (36-6-1, 12 KOs) was a bantamweight mainstay and a pound-for-pound candidate when he stepped into the ring to face Abner Mares in 2012. The 31-year-old Panamanian is 3-5 since, including a third-round KO loss to Julio Ceja (31-2, 28 KOs) on Saturday in Panama City. Moreno appears to be finished as an elite fighter.

 

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