Errol Spence speaks up for fighter rights, questions sanctioning bodies

It is quite clear history is at the center of everything that Errol Spence Jr. is fighting for on Saturday, July 29th, live on Showtime pay-per-view, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. As his WBC, WBA, and IBF welterweight titles will be on the line against the only remaining titlist in the division, Terence Crawford, the WBO welterweight world champion.

Spence has been reflective of how the past has motivated the present. Talking like a historian at the LA press conference about previous great ‘big fights’, and going further in-depth during today’s New York press conference. Spence is looking to follow the lead of another great Texas fighter, Donald Curry, better known as ‘The Lone Star Cobra’, who was the undisputed welterweight champion in the three-belt era, thirty-eight-years ago. 

“As an amateur, I used to watch the old-school fights [and think] ‘one day I am going to be in a fight like that,” reflected Spence Jr. at the New York press conference. “I used to watch something called Legendary Nights [an HBO Boxing program]. Where they were talking about ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, and Tommy Hearns, not the fights, but just the events that happened before the fight. [The] press conferences, the weigh-in, showing the training camps, I am finally in the same scenario [of the] fight I used to watch back then. It is just a great feeling to be in those shoes.”

Spence Jr to stardom has been a unique one. A decorated USA Boxing Olympian, who was destined for stardom coming out of the Olympics, and praised by the promoter, Lou DiBella after he stopped Chris Algieri during his fight that ran right after the 2016 Olympics, Spence Jr was seemingly the next American star to come out of the Olympic Games. A few things have hampered that - one of which being unwillingness from his peers to face him before he got a world title as it took him traveling to the United Kingdom to win the IBF welterweight world title from Kell Brook via a late-round stoppage to win his first title. Since becoming a champion, Spence has developed a strong hold over the Texas market building a very strong relationship with the Dallas Cowboys NFL organization, but despite all of his world title defenses and unifying the division, people wanted to see one fight. The fight against Terence Crawford. Though Spence never spoke about it - Spence appears to be joyful at the moment that he gets to have a moment to be great in the sport of boxing. 

“[There] is a reward in taking risks,” stated Spence toward the conclusion of the press conference as if speaking to the younger generation directly. “Just like how if you go to these basketball games, football games, and pay twenty-thousand dollars to sit front row. You get [those] seats and no one is complaining. Support these fighters, man, because this is how they earn their living, putting their life on the line to give you a good show. They are literally losing brain cells and could lose their life for y’all.”

Spence gave us an assortment of things not unlike a Halloween trick-or-treat bag that offers a variety of candies - Spence gave us a different side. Humorous at times, showing a deep passion for the legacy and history of those who came before, and also, humility in outlining the severe risks that come with being a prizefighter. Spence Jr. has been the king of merchandise in the modern era, but today’s press conference also showed why some people are drawn to him that might not follow boxing - he comes off as easy to like, able to touch on a slew of subjects and speaks very honestly on all the things he does. 

Spence has taken the biggest stage of his career to speak up and be a leader on issues that bother him in the sport. Often, we as writers wish for things like this from fighters, but then don’t give it the due praise it deserves when it occurs. Spence Jr. is looking to get some questions answered when the whole boxing world is watching him - and that is something that can’t be ignored.