Mancuso: Spence Is The New Sugar Ray

Promoter Lou DiBella said that Errol Spence Jr. is in that category of Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard. The undefeated IBF welterweight champion at the Barclays Center Saturday night continued his dominance stopping Lamont Peterson in the eighth round and in the division Spence has all the signs of being this modern version of Leonard.

So one can ask how and why about Errol Spence Jr.? That is easy to understand in this new era of boxing and Saturday night he used the angle,reach, and distance to dominate a former two-time champion. Spence has that persona of a prominent champion and does not use social media to claim his position as a premiere welterweight.

And in this era of social media, Errol Spence Jr. does not trash talk. He does his work in the ring and unlike a majority of fighters does not have an Instagram account to brag and offer a challenge. All that needs to be known is that Errol Spence Jr. is here and the challengers will come.

Leonard was that other era when all the talking was done with newspaper headlines and no tweets or brief 20 or 30 second video clips that today will generate the popularity of a pro fighter.  And then,there was all the talking in the ring as the promoters lined up the challenge in that era of Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran.

Now it is Spence looking to unify the titles in the most hotly contested division of the sport. The names are Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Jeff Horn, and Shawn Porter. Manny Pacquiao is still in the mix and waiting in the wings is Terence Crawford who moved up in weight and arguably could be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter.

But this is about Errol Spence Jr. and so much like Sugar Ray Leonard.  DiBella sees this young superstar as a potential face for the sport and the numbers of 12,000 plus at Barclays and five million viewers on Showtime will only get better.

Thurman and Spence would draw those numbers but it will have to wait. Thurman needs that tuneup after a serious injury to his elbow and could return in May. Spence against Crawford, a Top Rank fighter, may require some difficult negotiating because Spence is PBC controlled. Boxing was always a money making business when Leonard was in the ring and with promoters Bob Arum and Don King going tooth and nail.

It’s more of a business now with cable  networks looking for the opportunity to capitalize and Errol Spence Jr. does have that persona and talent to draw ratings. Saturday night against Peterson, it was Spence the technician and making his quiet claim to fame, perhaps headed to being that top fighter in the business.  

To all of that, Spence said “I’m not going to say I’m pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world but I’m definitely heading that way. I’m looking to come back in May or June. Looking for a homecoming in Dallas.”

A similar style and demeanor of Sugar Ray Leonard at the podium. At times in the post fight presser Errol Spence Jr. had that look.

He wants to fight three times this year and by all means Errol Spence Jr, can do that. Leonard had all the tools to provide those epic two or three fights a year in that era with Hagler, Hearns, and Duran. The infancy towards the explosion of cable networks fought to get Leonard and so did the fight venues outside of Las Vegas.

Spence, the 2012 US Olympian made the first defense of his title that he won in May in Sheffield England over Kell Brook. That was his lone fight last year and with no setbacks count on those two or three more fights this year. So it is so similar to the style and persona of Sugar Ray Leonard.

One longtime boxing observer said Saturday night, “I am looking at a reincarnation of Sugar Ray Leonard.”  Different era and different fighters they are today for sure but Errol Spence Jr. at 27-years of age  should not shy away from that comparison.

Saturday night this new face became known in this different era of boxing. And Errol Spence Jr. will make tons of more money than Leonard did because this is a new era.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso



About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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