By Eric Thomas: Now that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have ridden off into the sunset in retiring from boxing, I think it’s pretty clear to me that unbeaten #2 IBF, #3 WBO, #5 WBC, #7 WBA welterweight contender Errol Spence Jr. (20-0, 17 KOs) is now the best fighter in the 147lb division.
I’m not taking nothing away from the other top guys like Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Tim Bradley, Kell Brook, Amir Khan, Jessie Vargas and Danny Garcia. I just think that the 26-year-old Spence is clearly the best fighter in the division right now. Yeah, the 5’10” Spence is going to need to prove it by beating some or all of those fighters, and I think he will in the near future.
There’s nothing stopping him, certainly not #3 IBF Konstantin Ponomarev (30-0, 13 KOs), the unbeaten contender that Spence will need to fight in the summer in an IBF welterweight eliminator bout. The winner of the Spence-Ponomarev fight will be the new IBF mandatory challenger to Kell Brook. Spence said it himself this past week that Brook will need to fight him once he’s the IBF mandatory or else he’ll be stripped of his IBF title.
Spence’s only competition at welterweight are from this list:
I have a hard time taking Berto, Garcia, Vargas, Khan and Peterson seriously as threats to Spence because each of them are badly flawed in their own way. I don’t see them as having the kind of talent to defeat Spence.
Spence is probably about two to three years from being recognized by the boxing world as the #1 fighter in the welterweight division. That time line would be narrowed if Spence could quickly fight the top names in the division, but unfortunately there’s no way of getting the top fighters to face Spence. To get the fight against Brook, Spence will need to fight Ponomarev to become Brook’s mandatory challenger. Even then, it’s unknown if Brook will elect to fight him. I see it being the same way with Spence having problems getting the other top welterweights to fight him. His problem is he’s too dangerous for his own good. If he was super popular like Mayweather, then he’d get the top fighters to face him even with them realizing they will probably lose to him.