Errol Spence Jr. shows off star qualities in one-round vanquish of Carlos Ocampo
This was a dream for the boy who grew up just outside Dallas.
Errol Spence Jr. wanted nothing more than to play for the Dallas Cowboys, and on Saturday, he headlined on Showtime Championship Boxing before 14,200 at the practice facility of the NFL team in Frisco, Texas.
It wasn’t about the matchup, but a homecoming for Spence, who was able to soak it all in as Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Jerry Jones watched him ply his craft as one of the sport’s elite fighters, and possibly the face of boxing in due time.
If only it lasted just a little longer.
Spence (24-0, 21 knockouts) blasted out Ocampo as the opening round expired, the lethal left hand digging into the Mexican’s solar plexus. A right hand to the side of Ocampo’s back followed, and as he crumpled face-first in a ball of pain, it was clear he wasn’t going to beat the count.
THE RING’s No. 7 pound-for-pound fighter picked up the second defense of his welterweight title and now, he waits for a shot at another title.
“I was a little disappointed, I wanted to give the crowd their money’s worth,” said Spence, who stopped Lamont Peterson in January. “I wanted him to sustain a bit and give him some punishment, but the body shot got him and I dropped him.
“That was my game plan: I’m the body snatcher. If he reacts weirdly I just keep going to the body and I keep breaking him down.”
No one expected Ocampo (22-1, 13 KOs) to compete with Spence. The 22-year-old Mexican had never faced an opponent of any regard, but somehow, was installed as the mandatory challenger to Spence’s title by the IBF.
It was hailed as a gross mismatch, and that’s exactly what it ended up being, but Ocampo hung tough before the finish. He was connecting on body blows, but electing to trade shots to the midsection with one of the game’s fiercest punchers in that department proved to be an ill-fated strategy.
Spence will move on to bigger and better fights. The 28-year-old is no doubt a special talent, and he competes in one of boxing’s glamour divisions, one that happens to be stacked with top-notch fighters at the moment.
“I want to fight the best,” said Spence, who won the title last summer when he traveled to the U.K. and broke Kell Brook’s orbital bone. “Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter are fighting each other (for the WBC title) and I definitely want to make that a unifying fight.
“We both have the same management, we both fight on Showtime. Why not make that happen? I definitely want that fight whenever it’s available.”
It’s a fight that makes plenty of sense, but it’s not the fight fans want right now. A matchup with Terence Crawford, who picked up a welterweight title in his 147-pound debut with a knockout of Jeff Horn last week, is one of the biggest fights that can be made in the sport.
Of course, the time isn’t yet ripe for Spence and Crawford to meet in a summit meeting. With Garcia and Porter slated to fight in either August or September, there’s little chance the winner would available to meet Spence in 2018.
And with the momentum Spence is riding, Haymon and Co. would be foolish to shelve the rising star for the rest of the year. Mikey Garcia is calling for a fight with Spence in December, and as outlandish as it sounds for the lightweight titleholder to move up in weight yet again, just maybe, it will happen. It would certainly signify a massive fight pitting two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
It’s unlikely Spence and Crawford meet until fall 2019, and even then, the fight won’t be easy to finalize. Crawford is aligned with ESPN and Top Rank, and neither network is likely to miss out on such a money-making endeavor. That means another joint pay-per-view show.
For now, Spence will look to collect more belts as his star continues to shine brighter. He proved he’s a bona fide hometown attraction with Saturday’s event. Now, he needs a truly big fight to show his star power extends outside Dallas.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger