Errol Spence Jr. isn’t taking the easy route to capture his first world title.
The rising star won’t be gifted a vacant belt by fighting a journeyman in his hometown. That has happened too many times in boxing.
Spence has a daunting task in front of him to earn his belt, and the Dallas native has no problem with the extra work.
Spence will get an opportunity to prove he’s the next American great when he meets Kell Brook in his hometown of Sheffield, England, on Saturday for the IBF welterweight championship.
The Showtime-televised main event will air at 2:15 p.m. from Bramall Lane soccer stadium where close to 30,000 spectators are expected to attend.
“It’s going to be a real test to go to his hometown and to take his title from him,” Spence, 27, said. “It’s something that real fighters do … they go to other people’s town and fight the champion.”
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) May 25, 2017
Spence (21-0, 18 knockouts), who has all the tools to be the next star in the 147-pound division, isn’t going up against a pushover. Brook was considered one of the top three welterweights in the world along with Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao before he moved up two weight classes to face Gennady Golovkin eight months ago.
Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) suffered his first career defeat in a gutsy effort against Golovkin after his trainer threw in the towel during the fifth round.
Many expected Brook to vacate the IBF title and move to the junior middleweight division.
“Everybody wanted me to move up because they know that I’m a happier and a better fighter at a slightly heavier weight,” Brook, 31, said. “But all of my career I’ve been champion and I’ve become a world champion at welterweight.
“It’s been hard with ups and downs, and I just couldn’t give up that title just to move up in weight. I just didn’t want to move up in weight without defending my world title. It took me a long time to get.”
Brook has been in Spence’s position before. The Englishman traveled to Carson, California, to take the title away from Shawn Porter three years ago.
“Kell Brook’s a real fighter that wants to fight the best,” Spence said. “A lot of people said he would be ducking me … I kind of knew he was coming down. I wanted him to come down because I wanted to take the belt from the champion.
“I didn’t want to fight the next available guy. I wanted to fight the champion, the guy who has the belt and earn it the right way.”
The Brook-Spence matchup could join the long list of Fight of the Year contenders that already includes Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Oscar Valdez-Miguel Marriaga.
The welterweight bout also continues the 2017 trend of the best fighting the best such as Thurman-Danny Garcia and the upcoming Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Golovkin middleweight matchup.
“Why did I agree to go to the U.K? Because that’s what real fighters do,” Spence said. “He did that. He came over to America and go the title from Shawn Porter.”
Canelo-GGG venue update
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya told reporters this week that Las Vegas and Dallas have made the final cut to host the middleweight showdown between Alvarez and Golovkin on Sept. 16.
Los Angeles, New York, London and many other cities also wanted to host the fight.
“It’s between Dallas and Las Vegas,” De La Hoya said. “It’s all about where the fans want it. We’ve been having polls like on ESPN and on the web. … A lot of fans are saying they want it in Dallas. It’s almost split right down the middle. A lot of people want it in Vegas because of all the excitement, Vegas lights and action.”
Contact Gilbert Manzano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @gmanzano24 on Twitter.
June 17: Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev, 6 p.m., HBO PPV, Mandalay Bay Events Center