Errol Spence Jr. is a rising star in boxing and is coming off the biggest win of his professional career with an 11th-round TKO of Kell Brook in May, but in a way, he also suffered the first loss of his career this weekend.
The IBF welterweight champion could have defeated Miguel Cotto on Saturday, but the 2012 Olympian turned down a $2.5 million offer from Golden Boy Promotions to face Cotto in order to fight former world champion, Lamont Peterson.
Spence did not intentionally avoid Cotto as some surmise, but he wasn’t going to be able to square off against the Puerto Rican legend unless he signed a multi-fight deal.
Cotto was far from his best on Saturday in what he said would be his last fight and lost his junior middleweight world title to Sadam Ali by unanimous decision in a huge upset.
Mikey Garcia was offered a similar package. He could have fought Cotto for $2 million and earned a $500,000 bonus if he won, but it is understandable why the undefeated world champion passed on the fight.
Garcia knocked out Dejan Zlatičanin to win the WBC lightweight world title in January and moved up to 147-pounds in July where he made easy work of Adrien Broner in a 12-round unanimous decision victory. A move from 135 to 154 in one year would have been a tall task Garcia.
Spence (22-0, 19 KO’s), 27, a southpaw from DeSoto, Texas, who turns 27 a week before he makes his first defense of his 147-pound world title on Jan. 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, missed out. The 2012 Olympian already has the star power and could have knocked out Cotto. That would have made the victory more noticeable to the fans and propelled him to superstar status.
It is particularly disappointing that Spence only fought once in 2017, considering that he fought 19 times from 2012-2015, but has fought just twice in the past 24 months. The Brook victory stands as his signature win, though, a Cotto triumph would have been much more significant.
Lamont Peterson is still a very difficult opponent and a tough fight, but a knockout victory for Spence will not carry the same weight.
Some have defended Spence’s decision and noted that he plans to unify the welterweight division in 2018, but that will be challenging as undefeated Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KO’s), who holds the WBA and WBC welterweight world titles, has made it clear that Spence is not on his “to-do list” this year.
Moreover, as FightNights.com previously reported, Spence has stated he would be willing to move up to 154-pounds to fight Canelo Alvarez in Texas. That’s a big money bout that would easily sell two million pay-per-views easily.
When Spence was first questioned on his decision to pass on the Cotto bout, Spence said that he was “already getting great money.”
He missed out on an opportunity to make even more money.