By The Associated Press
Errol Spence is in an enviable position as he returns to the ring Saturday night in a welterweight title fight against Shawn Porter.
There’s a possible fight with Manny Pacquiao looming. Perhaps a fight with fellow champion Terence Crawford after that.
And, of course, millions of dollars to be made.
Titles count in boxing, even as fans complain that there are way too many. And Spence suddenly finds himself with a lot of attractive options as he goes about trying to collect the major belts in what could be a series of blockbuster fights.
“There’s no shortage of guys to fight,” Spence said. “Some guys have belts and it’s time for me to get to work. Next year will be a real busy year.”
Spence will try to get one of those belts when he meets Porter at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It will be the second straight pay-per-view fight for the undefeated welterweight champion, and one that could serve as a table setter for even bigger fights to come.
It’s not exactly the 1980s, when Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran were fighting each other and the 147-pound weight class was the most exciting in boxing. But Spence sees some similarities as he goes about trying to make himself a household name in boxing.
“Throughout history I feel the welterweight division has always been one of, if not the most, talented weight class,” he said. “You’ve got guys that are fast, guys who can punch, guys with quick feet who are all around athletic. It’s always been the golden division in boxing.”
Spence is a big favorite to beat Porter, an awkward and aggressive fighter who owns a piece of the 147-pound crown himself, as he returns to the ring for the first time since his dominating win in March over Mikey Garcia before a crowd of more than 47,000 in Dallas.
Spence threw a career-high 1082 punches in that fight, easily winning a decision and delivering Garcia his first loss.
It was the latest in a series of spectacular performances for the 2012 U.S. Olympian, who is undefeated in 25 fights with 21 knockouts. Fighting at home he proved he could draw a crowd, and with his second straight pay-per-view fight he’s trying to prove he can draw big bucks on TV, too.
He and the unbeaten Crawford — both of whom are near the top of everyone’s pound-for-pound best list — would appear to be on a collision course for a mega fight, but this is boxing and nothing big ever comes easy. Spence is aligned with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions while Crawford is promoted by Bob Arum, and the two don’t do business.
But a resurgent Pacquiao is available, a fight that Spence says can sell out AT&T Stadium in Texas, and Crawford could come after that if boxing politics can be settled.
“At some point we’ll meet definitely,” Spence said. “The pot keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger, so it will happen eventually.”
For now, though, there is more immediate business on the line. Porter is a champion in his own right and presents a challenge, even though oddsmakers in Porter’s hometown of Las Vegas make Spence a 9-1 favorite.
“Shawn Porter will try to make it dirty and rough so I’ve got to be focused,” Spence said. “I think you make adjustments as it comes. There’s going to be swings in the fight and some things may go his way, some may go mine.”