By: Hans Themistos
It’s not uncommon to see even the biggest and most well-known fighters in the sport of boxing take a few soft touches in the ring. This notion can become even more prevalent once a fighter spends an extended amount of time away from injury or inactivity.
However, while this is common practice, it’s not something Errol Spence Jr. plans to do.
“I just don’t believe in focus,” Spence Jr. told a group of reporters.
Since 2017, Spence Jr. has spent most of his career playing against former world champions or, at the time, current world champions. In that five-year span, Spence Jr. has only once fought an opponent who failed to wrap a world title around his waist. That would come in 2018 against mandatory challenger, Carlos Ocampo Manriquez.
Although the current 147-pound unified champion is not a fan of taking on lower-ranked fighters, there have been several times in his career where a “tune-up” would have been warranted.
In October 2019, just a month after winning his second world title against Shawn Porter, Spence Jr. had a little too much fun on a night out on the town. The Dallas product was violently thrown from his sports vehicle in a car accident, which caused the 32-year-old to spend more than a year in rehab.
For his comeback bout, Spence Jr. refused to entertain in the face of lesser opposition. Instead, he opted to face former two-division world titlist Danny Garcia. Although highly credentialed, Garcia was outplayed and outplayed, losing a lopsided unanimous decision.
As the powerhouse southpaw suffers a retinal detachment/fracture in his right eye late last year, forcing him to pull out of his initial fight against Manny Pacquiao, the unified title roster is expected to end another year of layoff by facing another tough opponent.
In just a few short weeks, Spence Jr. will attempt to truncate the world title reign of WBA champion Yordenis Ugas. In 12 of his last 13 fights, Ugas has managed to score convincing wins and is working diligently to keep his momentum going.
More than anything, Spence Jr. thinks facing the bottom of the welterweight barrel for his comeback would be a waste of time. No matter how long the pound-for-pound star spends on the sidelines, he believes facing tenuous opposition won’t give him the motivation he needs to push himself to his breaking point in training camp.
“To fight someone like Ugas caliber, it’s going to push me to the next level. It’s going to allow me to train hard. If I was just fighting a Joe Blow or someone I knew I was going to knock out, I would probably be a little heavier I’d probably be sneaking chips and snacks because I know it’s not gonna be a long fight So to fight someone Ugas caliber I know I have to to be 100% prepared. I have to push my body beyond its limits to beat a guy like Ugas. He’s a world champion and a world talent too.