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Errol Spence defends against Lamont Peterson on Jan.20

“First off, I’m happy to be getting back in the ring,” 

By

By Tim Royner: Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) will be coming from an 8-month layoff when he makes his first title defense of his IBF welterweight belt against 33-year-old former 2-division world champion Lamont ‘Havoc’ Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) in 2 months from now on January 20 on Showtime Boxing from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

This is a fight that greatly favors the younger, stronger and unquestionably more talented 27-year-old Spence Jr. He’s got the youth and an enormous power advantage over Peterson. This is the perfect opponent for Spence’s fighting style. Peterson likes to stay on the inside, throwing hard body shots in his fights. That’s exactly how Spence prefers to fight. The difference is, Spence is a lot bigger puncher than Peterson, and he’s going to likely chop him apart quickly if the two fight at close range.

 

Peterson will need to change his fighting style if he wants to avoid getting knocked out quickly by Spence. Peterson doesn’t always do that though, as we saw in his 3rd round knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse in May 2013. Peterson tried to trade with Matthysse instead of boxing him, and he ended up getting dropped 3 times before the fight was stopped in the 3rd. Spence hits at least as hard as Matthysse, but he’s a lot younger and bigger than him. Peterson will have to bring a different game plan to the ring on January 20 if he wants to avoid getting knocked out by Spence. Peterson is an older fighter, who is stuck with the same fighting style his entire 13-year pro career. It’s unlikely that he’ll change anything that this point.

Spence beat IBF 147 lb. champion Kell “Special K” Brook by an 11th round knockout 6 months ago on May 27 in Sheffield, England. After picking up the IBF title, Spence was a little too ambitious in thinking he could go straight into a unification fight with WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman. However, Spence has found out the hard way that unification fights are not easy to get, especially when the other champion has no real desire in fighting him. In Thurman’s case, he’s been breaking down physical during in between fights, and he’s now spending increasingly more time outside of the ring rather than inside it. Spence will need to concentrate on defending his IBF title, and forget about his dream of unifying the titles at 147. Thurman may eventually face Spence, but it’s likely that he’ll be dethroned by someone like Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter long before he gets to the point of facing Spence in a unification fight.

“My goal is to unify the welterweight division in 2018, but this fight is a true test and Lamont Peterson is a veteran that I definitely will not overlook,” said Spence Jr. “I sparred him in the amateurs and I know what he brings to the table. I have to get through him to achieve my goals and that is what I plan on doing January 20th.”

Thurman has improved since the amateurs. He’s now a lot more mobile when he fights, which might account for him gassing out in his last fight against Danny Garcia last March. Spence will probably need to do a fair amount of chasing of Thurman if he wants to be able to land shots on him Thurman was literally running in his fight with Shawn Porter last year. Thurman would stop occasionally to land a shot, but then he would move away and continue his circle fighting.

Peterson vacated his WBA World welterweight title last month on October 4 without ever defending the belt. Peterson won the WBA title last February in beating David Avanesyan by a 12 round decision. The big question is why didn’t Peterson’s management have him defend the title? Even if Peterson only defended it once, it would have been better than giving up the title without making a defense. Peterson has been sitting inactive for the last 9 months without a fight. By the time Peterson does return to the ring in January, he’ll have been out of action for 11 months. It’s too bad. Peterson isn’t getting the most out of his career. He’s falling into the same trap that we see with a lot of good fighters.

 

Bermane Stiverne was out of the ring for 2 years before he fought Deontay Wilder this month, and he was poor. Without taking a tune-up fight before fighting Spence, Peterson is very likely going to be ring rusty and not as sharp as he needs to be for him to have a chance of beating the 27-year-old Spence.

Inactivity isn’t a new thing for Peterson. He would put of action for the entire 2016 without any fights. His last fight before that was a controversial 12 round majority decision win over Felix Diaz on October 17, 2015. It’s unclear whether Peterson’s management can’t find him fights or what. They should be keeping Peterson busy at this point in his career. He’s not young at 33, and he likely only has 2 or 3 years left as a top contender in the welterweight division. It would be a pity if Peterson continues to stay out of the ring for prolonged periods for what’s left of his career.

“First off, I’m happy to be getting back in the ring,” said Peterson. “I’ve stayed in the gym and I’m ready to go. This is a fight I wanted and as I said before when I became a welterweight, I want to fight the best and make the fights that people want to see. I’m ready to give it my all and give the fans a great show.”

Staying in the gym isn’t the same as staying active. There’s a stark difference. Peterson needs to be fighting for him to be the fighter that he can be.

Peterson has past wins over Amir Khan, Kendall Holt, Victor Cayo, Dierry Jean, Edgar Santa and Felix Diaz. Peterson has lost to Danny Garcia, Matthysse and Tim Bradley. All three of those fighters beat Peterson by using pressure. Peterson also fought to a 10-round draw against Victor Ortiz in 2010. After getting knocked down twice by Ortiz in round 3, Peterson took the fight to him and dominated the remainder of the fight. The judges still scored it a draw, but a lot of boxing fans believed that Peterson had done enough to deserve the victory.