Nobody really cares about boxing anymore. Of course, true fans of the “sweet science” will always appreciate the sport, but most fight fans gravitate towards MMA thanks to the UFC and their brilliant marketing over the last 10 years. The UFC has consolidated the power base in MMA through M&A and worked out sweetheart distribution deals to keep the brand exposed via Spike, at first, and now the mainstream Fox. Don’t get me wrong. I love MMA but pugilistic warriors, especially highly-skilled boxers, are every bit as entertaining as today’s MMA stars.
Via Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Championship (“PBC”) series, boxing has returned to the public networks in a return to the renaissance days of yesteryear when boxing was displayed in full glory to the masses. Sure, the biggest fights are still controlled by HBO, Showtime, and the greasy fight promoters by way of the pay-per-view model but you can’t blame them. Promoters are simply maximizing their take-home pay for themselves and their fighters. That’s how Money May has been the highest paid athlete in the world for a few years running. You think MMT would be grossing over $100M if NBC aired his fights on public broadcasts?
Which brings me to Errol Spence Jr., the future of boxing. If you didn’t watch his destruction of Chris Algieri last night, then you missed a glance into the window of what lies in store for fighters from 147 to 154. Up until his 20th fight last night, Spence has fought virtually nobody as he was tuning up his pro record. S.O.P. for the fight game. Algieri was his first true test and Spence passed with flying colors. He did what Amir Khan or Manny Pacquiao couldn’t do. Hell, even the jack-hammer hitting Ruslan Provodnikov couldn’t do it either. Spence knocked the very game Algieri out in the 5th round.
At barely 26, I can see Spence dominating for another decade if yesterday’s fight was a sneak peek into his potential supremacy. He showed discipline by consistently working the body early and often. He followed his game plan of catching Algieri on his ducking with huge straight lefts. It was beautiful.
The only question mark for me is Spence’s chin. Algieri definitely did not test it. He did hit Spence with a few very good counters, but to absolutely no effect. Algieri is not a power puncher. He’s a combo-throwing decision winner. Regardless, Spence just walked right through any punches he took to his face and countered with an even bigger hit. I’m real curious to see how Spence does against world-class power punchers.
At this point, I can see a lot of fighters begin to duck Spence very much like Gennady Golovkin has been ducked. Golovkin is the people’s champ because everybody loves his KO power but nobody wants to face him. Finally, payouts have risen so high that fighters simply cannot refuse a match with Golovkin. The money’s just too good.
I would hate to see that happen to Spence for too long, because this guy is truly special. If you love a knockout artist who uses skilled body punching as his set up to a chin-wrecking finish, then you’ll love Errol Spence Jr. Keep your eyes on him. Styles make fights and some fighter out there just may be his kryptonite but I just don’t see it right now. His future is bright and it would appear the only thing that could derail him is the potential for ego-growth. The taste of spectacular success can change the emotionally-weak for the worse.
Then again, it hasn’t seemed to do much to harm Floyd Mayweather Jr., so let’s hope the PBC can keep Spence on air for free for as long as possible because we probably don’t have too long before Errol Spence Jr. could be working his own way to the top of the list of pro athlete earners.