By: Hans Themistode
It isn’t uncommon to see even the biggest and most well-known fighters in the sport of boxing take on a few soft touches in the ring. That notion can become even more prevalent once a fighter spends a prolonged amount of time on the sidelines nursing injuries or inactivity.
However, while it’s a common practice, it isn’t something Errol Spence Jr. ever envisions himself doing.
“I just don’t believe in the tune-up thing,” said Spence Jr. to a group of reporters.
Since 2017, Spence Jr. has spent the majority of his career taking on either former, or at the time, current world champions. During that five-year stretch, only once has Spence Jr. fought an opponent who’s 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 isn’t a fan of facing lower ranked fighters, there were several moments in his career where a “tune-up” would have been warranted.
In October of 2019, just one month after securing his second world title against Shawn Porter, Spence Jr. enjoyed himself a bit too much during a night out on the town. The Dallas product was thrown violently from his sports vehicle during a one-car wreck, resulting in the now 32-year-old spending well over one full year rehabbing.
For his return bout, Spence Jr. refused to entertain facing lesser opposition. Instead, he opted to take on former two-division world titlist, Danny Garcia. Although highly credentialed, Garcia was outgunned and overmatched, losing a lopsided unanimous decision.
With the powerful southpaw suffering a retinal detachment/break in his right eye late last year, forcing him to withdraw from his initial contest against Manny Pacquiao, the unified titlist is set to end yet another year-plus layoff by facing another difficult 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 past 13 fights, Ugas has managed to pick up convincing victories and is working diligently to continue his winning ways.
More than anything, Spence Jr. believes that facing the bottom of the welterweight barrel for his return would be a waste of time. No matter how long the pound-for-pound star spends on the sidelines, he believes that facing tenuous opposition won’t give him the motivation he needs to push himself to his breaking point in training camp.
“To fight somebody like Ugas caliber, it’s going to push me to the next level. It’s going to keep me training hard. If I was fighting just a Joe Blow or somebody I knew I was going to knock out, I would probably be a little bit heavier. I probably would be sneaking chips and snacks cause I know it’s not going to be a long fight. So to fight someone of Ugas caliber, I know that I got to be world prepared 100%. I got to push my body past its limits to beat a guy like Ugas. He’s a world champion and a world talent too.”