Spence Jr. fights, and fights and fights


Errol Spence Jr. appears to be in a hurry.

Spence, a left-handed welterweight from Dallas and U.S. Olympian in the 2012 London Games, fought a remarkable eight times in 2013 and will make his third appearance this year when he faces Ronald Cruz tonight in the 10-round main event at the Hard Rock Hotel.

In an era when fighters compete once or twice a year, Spence (12-0, 10 knockouts) is bucking the trend.

“I’m healthy. Why not get right back in the ring?” he said Thursday. “I’m not fighting a lot of rounds, so I prefer to stay busy.”

Spence, who reached the welterweight quarterfinals in London, signed with Al Haymon shortly after the Olympics. He made his debut in November 2012, stopping Jonathan Garcia in the third round of a four-round fight in Indio, Calif.

A month later, he was back in the ring, defeating Richard Andrews by technical knockout in the third round at Los Angeles Sports Arena. The following month, he made his Las Vegas debut, stopping Nathan Butcher in the first round at the Hard Rock Hotel.

He would fight virtually every other month in 2013, with only Emmanuel Lartey testing him by going the distance in an eight-round bout Oct. 14, which Spence won by unanimous decision.

“I already had a pro style,” he said of transitioning from the Olympics to the professional ranks. “The only adjustments were the headgear and going longer than three rounds. The thing I learned was how to adapt. I saw a lot of different styles as an amateur, and as a pro, I haven’t seen much that’s different.”

Spence, 24, said he doesn’t regret his decision to remain an amateur and fight in the Olympics instead of turning pro.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “I got to meet all the other athletes, and I gained a lot of valuable experience fighting in the Olympics and everything that led up to it. So I don’t have any regrets whatsoever.”

Spence, who said he plans to fight five or six times this year to try to position himself for a world title shot in late 2015, expects the competition to get tougher. For starters, he’s expecting a tough fight from Cruz (20-3, 15 KOs) on the Showtime-televised card.

“He’s a durable, tough guy,” Spence said. “He has a lot of experience, and I know he’s coming to win.

“But every fight is important, so there’s no way I’m overlooking him. This is my second 10-round fight, and I have to be ready to go the distance.”

His last fight, April 18 against Raymond Charles, also was scheduled for 10 rounds. But Spence overpowered Charles and won by technical knockout in the first round.

Spence said tonight’s fight has special meaning.

“It’s my first time headlining on Showtime,” he said. “I trained for this fight like it was a title fight.”

In the co-feature, middleweight Dominic Wade (15-0, 11 KOs) faces Nick Brinson (16-1-2, six KOs) in a 10-round fight. The first bell is scheduled for 2:30 p.m, with the first televised bout at 6:30.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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