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Spence vs Peterson: Fight preview and matchup

Errol Spence Jr takes on Lamont Peterson in this week’s Showtime main event.

Errol Spence Jr

Boxing at Bramall Lane Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Record: 22-0 (19 KO) ... Streak: W9 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5’9½” / 72” ... Age: 28

Thoughts: Spence was thought to have elite pro potential back at London 2012, when he didn’t medal but looked like the best fighter on that disappointing U.S. men’s Olympic boxing team. Plenty of those fighters had pro potential, and have turned out to be good pros.

But Spence has been the best of the lot, as many expected. The 28-year-old “Truth” is now the IBF welterweight champion after dismantling Kell Brook last May in Sheffield, England, going on the road against a top fighter who’d never lost at 147 and beating him down en route to an 11th round knockout.

Spence is seen in some circles now as the future of the welterweight division, which remains one of the best in the sport, even in this post-Mayweather/Pacquiao era. There has been talent to replace those guys, and Spence is a big part of that. He’s taken his opposition apart thus far, from Phil Lo Greco and Chris van Heerden to Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu, and then Brook. He’s passed every test with flying colors.

He’s the favorite in this fight, and should be. He has the look of a more dynamic fighter than Lamont Peterson has ever been, and his win over Brook is better than anything Peterson has done, even including Peterson’s controversial W over Amir Khan. Spence has power, speed, and skills, and he’s headed for a true big fight sooner than later, or at least that’s the hope. Peterson is good enough to make this a fight for a bit, but that’s probably about it.

Lamont Peterson

PBC on NBC: Lamont Peterson v Felix Diaz Jr. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Record: 35-3-1 (17 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 7-2-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’9” / 72” ... Age: 33

Thoughts: Lamont Peterson is a good fighter, but not a great one. It’s also a bit weird how relatively inactive he’s been. When you look at his past 10 fights, that stretches all the way back to his December 2010 draw with Victor Ortiz, a fight that seems like forever ago. So does his 2011 win over Amir Khan, in fact, one of the more controversial fights in recent memory.

Peterson’s schedule, though, has included almost nothing but good opponents. Ortiz, Victor Cayo, Khan, Kendall Holt, Lucas Matthysse, Dierry Jean, Edgar Santana, Danny Garcia, Felix Diaz, and David Avanesyan have been his last 10 foes. A few of those fights really stand out and paint the picture of Peterson as an overall fighter.

  • The draw with Ortiz showed Peterson’s resilience and heart, as he battled back from a big early hole and two third round knockdowns to force the draw.
  • The win over Khan was debatable, definitely, but Peterson again proved he can fight at a high level. Win? A different question. He got that win, but there was a lot going on in that fight.
  • Matthysse bulldozed him in 2013, stopping Peterson in three rounds and dropping him repeatedly. That was the fight that made people think Matthysse was a demolition man, and had him favored by many against Danny Garcia.
  • The Garcia fight in 2015 was maybe Peterson’s best performance as a pro. I thought he deserved a narrow win, but he lost a majority decision. He’s never looked better than he did that night.
  • The win over Felix Diaz was another controversial decision, and that came just six months after the Garcia fight. Diaz lost a majority decision, had an argument for the win.
  • Peterson’s last fight, 11 months ago, was a solid and competitive win over David Avanesyan in his official move up to the welterweight division. It was a sound showing.

Truth is, outside of the Garcia fight, I tend to think of Lamont Peterson as someone who generally can compete at the highest levels, but isn’t going to beat true top-tier fighters. He’s had chances with Garcia, Khan, Matthysse, and going back to 2009, Tim Bradley, who routed Peterson in the sense that he won on wide scores, but almost every round, really, was competitive, Bradley just edged the lot of them.

It’s hard to imagine Peterson, at 33, coming up with a new career-best performance and pulling off this upset. He’s a credible challenger for Spence, but there’s a reason Spence is seen as an elite talent and Peterson isn’t.

Matchup Grade: C. Really, it’s fine, it’s just hard to envision anything but the predictable outcome of Spence winning fairly handily coming to pass. Peterson will compete and give it a genuine effort, but the gap between them should show up by the middle rounds.

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