Ask fight fans and experts a year ago and most would’ve said that Errol Spence deserved to sit atop the welterweight throne, heir to the legacy of Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and so many other of the legendary 147 lb. talents in boxing history. But a lot has changed in a year.
Spence is still undefeated. Closest welterweight competitor, Terence Crawford, hasn’t gained any ground on him. With the exception of a soon-to-be 42-year-old Manny Pacquiao, nobody’s knocking on his back door, looking to surpass his no. 1 standing. Still, there’s chatter about the king maybe no longer sitting so securely on the throne.
Spence’s horrific car crash last fall opened the door to a lot of doubt. Rumors flew about the Texan’s injuries and whether the public was being told the “real” story about everything that had taken place. Were Spence’s injuries greater than his people were letting on? Were the injuries so taxing that he was essentially done as a prizefighter?
Eventually, it was revealed that he had not suffered any obvious neurological or lasting physical damage in the accident. He went back to training. It was revealed that he had the expected bumps and bruises. He had facial lacerations. The post-accident dental work was reportedly extensive. But, otherwise, he was fit, in training, and eager to get back into the ring.
Then, some social media videos came out, showing Spence not entirely being in a “right” frame of mind. Was this the byproduct of possible brain damage caused by the accident? It’s a bit of a leap to assume that, but we’ve seen other fighters, suffering with CTE, share similarly eerie real life videos. Spence’s videos weren’t as bad as former middleweight champ Jermain Taylor’s, for example, but things still didn’t seem quite right.
By the time Spence enters the ring in his PPV contest against Danny Garcia on December 5, It’ll be 14 months since his car accident and 15 months since his last bout. The downtime, in his case, may actually help him. The Covid shutdown of sports also took some of the pressure off when it came to his return. With boxing on lockdown for a few months and just now slowly inching forward, nobody was pushing him to come back. He could ease his way back into action, although coming back against a talent like Danny Garcia is not exactly an easy comeback task.
Making things even more intriguing is the fact that Spence-Garcia will be taking place in Spence’s back yard, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in front of an actual live crowd.
“Having my comeback fight be in front of my hometown fans at AT&T Stadium is added motivation and a dream come true,” Spence recently told media. “It means even more because I’m going up against a great champion in Danny Garcia. I know people are looking out to see if I’ve lost a step or won’t be at my best, but I’m 100% focused and everything is on point in training camp. I just can’t wait to go out there on December 5 and put on a show.”
People will definitely be watching Errol Spence on December 5, watching and analyzing how he looks now versus how he looked before the accident. There will also be plenty of chatter about how firmly the welterweight king is sitting on his throne.
Could Terence Crawford, who will be facing former champ Kell Brook on November 14, earn his way to the top spot if Spence looks bad? Could Danny Garcia actually overthrow Spence via upset? Answers will be known soon enough.