Errol Spence Jr.’s win over Shawn Porter last September was one of the best fights of the year, as the welterweight stars put on quite the show with Spence firmly establishing himself as one of the sport’s very best with a split decision win to move to 26-0 with 21 wins by knockout. Just weeks after reaching new heights in the sport of boxing, however, Spence suffered serious injuries when he was ejected from his Ferrari after crashing it at high speeds in Dallas. He still has pending DWI charges against him from the incident.
In the year-plus since, he’s had to battle his way back from a self-inflicted wound, coming to terms with his vulnerability and having to overcome the mental and physical hurdles of rehab and trying to return to the ring.
“I learned this past year that basically shit happens,” Spence told Uproxx over the phone last week. “I mean, you gotta roll with the punches. You can go sit in a dark room and drink and feel sorry for yourself or you’re gonna stick your chest out and do what you have to do to get back to where you once was, and that’s something that I did because I had nobody to blame but myself. At the end of the day I didn’t feel sorry for myself or say, ‘Oh I got in a crash,’ this and that. I basically put my work hat on and got busy.”
After a two-month training camp, Spence is making his long-awaited return to the ring in his hometown of Dallas, fighting against former welterweight champ Danny Garcia this Saturday night on Fox Sports PPV. Spence says camp has been great, a refrain every fighter repeats in the weeks leading up to the fight, but he can point to some specific moments that allowed him to feel like he was returning to the form that made him one of the pound-for-pound best in the world a year ago.
“Probably like the fourth or fifth time after I started sparring, everything really started clicking and everything started coming together,” Spence said. “Combinations and slipping and blocking punches and things like that with ring generalship. So, yeah I’d say probably like in sparring.”
In Garcia, Spence is facing a veteran of championship bouts at super lightweight, where he held two belts, before moving to welterweight, where he previously held the WBC title. Garcia’s two losses have been by decisions to Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, two of the best at 147 pounds, and Spence is expecting a similarly competitive effort from the veteran fighter, offering him a chance to build his resume against one of the best.
“I’m just looking to see the Danny Garcia of old,” Spence said. “This is a guy who’s always going at 100 percent. He never backs down from a fight. A guy that basically fights and fights and tries to make it as close as he can to win the fight. So, for me I’m just looking at a world class opponent and somebody with a great resume I can beat and put him on my resume.”
Spence admits he’s not totally sure what he’ll look like in the ring, noting that he and his coach have been going over their gameplan, but they’ll adjust based on what they see in that first round, both from Garcia and from himself. From there, he’ll look to find his rhythm and exploit any weaknesses he sees from Garcia as the fight wears on.
He’s not concerned with trying to make the veteran uncomfortable in the ring, because he expects Garcia to approach this fight as he does, which is to do what he does best and simply try to fight his best fight, with some in-ring adjustments based on how he feels.
“I don’t know if I can make him uncomfortable, and I don’t think he can make me feel uncomfortable,” Spence said. “I think we both world class fighters who have fought tough opponents – fought the best out there. For us it’s not – if we could make each other uncomfortable, it’s just something that would happen in the fight – I don’t think him or his coach really know how to make me uncomfortable, and I don’t really know how to make him uncomfortable until I get in there for the first round.”
As the fight approaches, Spence is staying solely focused on Garcia. When asked what’s next for him and how he’ll go about picking a new opponent, with many hoping for a showdown with Terence Crawford, he kindly deflects, saying he’s learned after the last year not to look past anything. In the past, Spence may have had one eye on the future and where he can go to elevate his star status, but after the year he’s had from self-inflicted wounds, he’s more apt to living in this moment.
Right now, his opponent is Danny Garcia, and he’s expecting quite the fight. It’s time, once again, to put on that work hat and get busy.