By Jeff Zimmerman
Photos: Stacey Verbeek
Undefeated IBF Welterweight Champ Errol Spence Jr. (25-0, 21 KOs) entertained his hometown fans Thursday night outside at Texas Live in Arlington, Texas, as he wraps up camp to face WBC champ Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Saturday, Sept. 28 in a mega unification bout. Spence Jr. looked in tip-top shape as he snapped the mitts of trainer Derrick James in a light workout.
“I feel good. I already trained earlier today. I feel good, I’m hungry. I’m ready to fight. I’m glad it’s only a week and some change to my fight.”
Trainer Derrick James echoed that sentiment as he believes Spence Jr. is as good as ever.
“He’s great. He’s rotating on the punches. You’ll see, I am looking forward to it as it has been a really good training camp, he’s very focused, poised, very precise. He’s ready.”
Spence Jr. and James, one of the best trainer, fighter combos in the game today have typically stuck to what has worked to this point, which means not making drastic changes to their preparation. Although they are always looking to add new wrinkles to their arsenal, they have usually relied on the same sparring partners to prepare Spence Jr, but for this camp, they brought in some new blood.
Both Spence Jr. and James like the work they got from it.
“It helped me a lot, a kid named Miguel, who is really good,” said Spence Jr. “He can really fight, tough, strong and can throw combinations and everything, so he helped me out a lot.
“I got some good sparring sessions in and I enjoyed sparring him a lot. It’s something fresh too, instead of sparring the same guy over and over again. It’s something different, so it got me more excited to spar.”
“We brought in a new guy to spar with him, a tough, really skilled young guy,” James said.
“He’s a phenomenal fighter and someone to look out for. He’s from Mexico and when I say great, he put a lot of pressure on EJ, boxed, backed him up. We didn’t have to mimic Shawn, we let him be himself.”
Spence Jr. and Porter have both shared the ring with former champion Kell Brook. Brook outboxed Porter for the IBF welterweight title back in 2014 and eventually lost it to Spence Jr. in 2017, giving Spence Jr. his first world title.
Spence Jr. took a few notes from the Porter-Brook clash but isn’t relying on it for his battle next Saturday night.
“I take a little bit from it, but I got my own style, my own gameplan, so I’m not going to take too much from it,” stated Spence Jr.
“Kell did outbox him, outpointed him and beat him up, but we got something else going, something else cooking, something else in the works that’s going to blow your mind.”
James is more concerned on what he has seen of late and not so interested in what happened in Porter-Brook.
“I haven’t watched it one time,” James said. “I think he has probably gotten better since he fought Kell Brook, so I watch the more recent fights.”
And now that Porter has shown a tendency to box more of late, James is preparing Spence Jr. for multiple styles.
“We prepare for both styles, boxing or brawling. You see me moving around, EJ cutting the ring off and doing everything else. Porter may get a couple of shots in boxing, but we focus on what the probabilities are, that’s what we are thinking about.”
For all of Spence Jr. accomplishments, a U.S. Olympian, world champion and considered one of the top 5 pound for pound boxers in the world, there still seems to be doubters out there on whether he is “The Truth” or not. Spence Jr., to his credit, takes it all in stride and lets his fists do the talking.
“People just don’t believe it, so I just got to keep punching, keep making it look easy,” Spence Jr. explained. “I don’t know, you have to ask them. I guess they feel like it’s not true and I’m not the real deal, so they want to keep doubting me, so when something happens, they can say I told you so.
“I am going to keep dominating, keep looking good, keep winning in spectacular fashion and later on they may give me my credit, we’ll see.”
James shared his thoughts on the doubters of his prized pupil.
“You can’t worry about that,” stated James. “People are going to doubt him until the end of his career, so I think you just got to stay focused on who you are, keep trying to be better, keep working towards your personal goals and not worry about what the people say.”
And although the Spence Jr. fight with Garcia got a little heated at times, for the most part, both fighters showed their respect. However, Spence Jr. and Porter pre-fight banter has been amped up a bit more and seems to be more personal with Porter than it was with Garcia.
“A little bit. It’s definitely personal,” said Spence Jr. “For me, I just do my part, put on a devastating performance where I just shut him out, I just beat him up and get the stoppage so I’m just going to be calculating in there, smart in there, not do anything crazy.
“I’m looking for the stoppage, definitely.”
And in the world of Spence Jr., Porter is just another stepping stone in his quest for greatness. Spence has stated in the past his goal was to clean out the welterweight division and then move up to 154 and do the same. A victory on Saturday, Sept 28th in Los Angeles, Spence Jr. will be halfway there at 147.
“My goal is to be undisputed welterweight champion of the world, so hopefully I can make that happen next year.”