Undefeated welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr. retained his IBF title with an impressive stoppage of former two-division champion Lamont Peterson in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING Saturday night from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING®.
In his first defense since dethroning Kell Brook on SHOWTIME last May, Spence (23-0, 20 KOs) out boxed a tough Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KOs) from start to finish, showcasing a wide array of skills, speed and power. The fight was stopped prior to the start of the eighth round after Peterson’s trainer, Barry Hunter, called for the stoppage.
The fight played out similar to how both fighters predicted, starting in a cagey tactical affair before it turned into an aggressive fight in the middle rounds. Two minutes into round five, Spence used a blistering left hook to send Peterson to the canvas (Click HERE for highlight). The Washington, D.C. native returned to his feet and continued to battle, but Spence proved to be too much. The 2012 U.S. Olympian out landed Peterson 161-45, while connecting on 49 percent of his power punches to just 31 percent for Peterson.
After the fight Spence spoke to SHOWTIME Sports reporter Jim Gray and was quick to give credit to his opponent. “I want to thank Lamont,” he said. “A lot of guys turned down the fight and he took it like a real warrior and I commend him for that. He’s a tough fighter. He’s willing to die in there.” Click HERE to watch the interview highlight.
Despite earning the win in commanding fashion, Spence still believes he has room to improve. “I still can improve a lot on my defense,” said the unbeaten world champion. “I just have to keep perfecting my skills and keep progressing. You’re going to see a better Errol Spence next time I get in the ring.
“Everybody knows I’ve been waiting on “Some Time” Thurman,” said Spence, looking ahead to a possible unification match with WBC and WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith Thurman. “Since I was 15-0 I’ve been calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses. Let’s get it on. He has two of the belts and we both have big names. It’s an easy fight to make and I want it.”
Peterson, who fought valiantly against the younger Spence, respected the decision of his trainer to stop the fight, “If he asks me to fight a million people, I will. If he asks me to stop. I will stop. I will never question his decision. I know he has my best interests at heart.”
“It was really hard, but if you know Lamont, you know he was not going to give up,” said trainer Barry Hunter. “I had to stop it. At the end of the day, this is my son right here. There’s nothing more valuable than his well-being. If it comes to him or winning, I pick him. I care about him.”
Undefeated 135-pound world champion Robert Easter (21-0, 14 KOs) earned a split decision victory over former world champion Javier Fortuna (33-2-1, 23 KOs) in the co-main event of the SHOWTIME telecast. The judges scored the bout 114-113, 113-114 and 115-112.
The back-and-forth bout saw two skilled fighters stay in the pocket and look to do damage from the inside. A second round point deduction from Fortuna proved costly when the Dominican was warned and then penalized for hitting Easter behind the head. Without the one point deduction, the fight would have been scored a draw. While Easter Jr. was slightly busier, Fortuna landed the more powerful punches. Easter Jr., who held a significant height advantage, out landed Fortuna, connecting on 120 of 383 (31 percent) power punches while Fortuna connected on 113 of 441 (26 percent).
“It was a tough fight, he’s a former world champion for a reason,” Easter told Gray. “We made it tough trying to counter punch. He wasn’t throwing much and it made it difficult for me to chase this guy around.
“I couldn’t get the knockout but we got the win and that’s all that matters. I knew he was going to run once he felt my power. He just wanted to grab and hold the whole fight.”
Looking ahead, Easter made his intentions clear as he seeks unification bouts in the near future, “I want to fight the champions and unify these belts. Fights like these aren’t in my game plan. I’m ready for Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares to sign the contract.”
A disgruntled Fortuna also spoke to Gray, “the public knows what happened here. They booed because they know that I won this fight.
“If he’s a man let’s fight again at 135-pounds,” said Fortuna, who failed to make weight on two attempts Friday, which meant that Easter’s belt would not be on the line. “I will definitely make the weight. I didn’t give myself enough time to train.”
Unbeaten light heavyweight contender Marcus Browne (21-0, 16 KOs) made quick work of Francy Ntetu (17-2, 4 KOs) in SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING PRELIMS action, as he dropped and battered his opponent early to force referee Arthur Mercante to stop the bout at just 2:15 of the first round. Fighting for his 12th time at the Barclays Center, the 27 year-old Staten Island native kept his unblemished record intact by utilizing his powerful left hand on the overmatched Ntetu.
Browne established his dominance from the start, landing a clean overhand left that dropped Ntetu halfway through the round. The Montreal, Québec native was never able to regain his feet and found himself cornered against the ropes just thirty seconds later. A barrage of powerful combinations landed on the defenseless Ntetu left the referee with little option but to stop the fight with 45 seconds remaining in round number one.
“We worked for this win. He walked into a sure shot and I made him pay,” said Browne. “The overhand left caught him and that was the beginning of the end for him. I knew he was hurt.
“I need a world title shot. I’m ready to take on any of the champions. I don’t have any preferences. I’m glad I put together another great performance here at Barclays Center. I’m going to keep improving until I really become Mr. Barclays Center.”
Ntetu, who moved up to the light heavyweight division for this fight, had a hard time dealing with Browne’s combination of speed and power on his way to the second loss of his pro career.
“[Browne] is very explosive, congrats to him,” said Ntetu. “He’s fast, he’s smart and I did not expect him to be that explosive. He got me with his right hook and a straight left.
“I was in enough shape to fight for 10 rounds. This is not my weight class, but I don’t want to make excuses.”
In the opening bout of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING PRELIMS, undefeated Adam Kownacki (17-0, 14 KOs) delivered a brutal knockout of Iago Kiladze (26-2, 18 KOs) at 2:08 of the sixth round of their heavyweight matchup. Kownacki, born in Lomza, Poland but fighting out of Brooklyn, New York, enjoyed the support of his hometown crowd as he steadily wore Kiladze down.
Kownacki was the more aggressive and accurate of the two fighters, landing 43 percent of his power punches and 35 percent of his total punches, compared to just 30 percent and 18 percent, respectively, for Kiladze. Despite a bloody nose that Kownacki suffered in the first round, the Polish heavyweight began to pour it on and tire Kiladze with a series of uppercuts and one-two combinations in the fourth round. The action-packed bout came to an end when Kownacki connected on a combination of two uppercuts and a right hand that sent Kiladze on his back in the final minute of the sixth round. After a stunned Kiladze returned to his feet, referee Shada Murdaugh called the fight at the suggestion of the ringside doctor.
“I’m so thankful to all my Polish fans who come out and give me that extra support”, said Kownacki, who fought in front of hundreds of his compatriots. “I’m going to keep fighting for the fans and give everyone a great show.
“I think I made the fight a lot harder than I should have. It’s another learning experience and I got the win. That’s all that matters.”
The Republic of Georgia-born Kiladze, who fights out of Los Angeles, was unable to speak to media as he was taken to NYU Lutheran Hospital for precautionary reasons.
Saturday’s telecast will replay on Sunday, January 21 at 9 a.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME and Monday, January 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME and will be available on SHOWTIME ON DEMAND® and SHOWTIME ANYTIME®.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING – 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on SHOWTIME
IBF Welterweight World Championship
Errol Spence Jr.: 147 pounds
Lamont Peterson: 146 ¾ pounds
Referee: Harvey Dock; Judges: Julie Lederman (N.Y.), Don Trella (Conn.), Steve Weisfeld (N.J.)
IBF Lightweight World Championship
Robert Easter Jr.: 134 ½ pounds
Javier Fortuna: 136 ½ pounds**
Referee: Ricky Gonzalez; Judges: Glenn Feldman (Conn.), John McKaie (N.Y.), Kevin Morgan (N.Y.)
**Fortuna does not make the 135-pound lightweight limit and cannot win IBF title. Fortuna initially weighed 136.8 pounds and measured 136.4 pounds after the two-hour allowance.
Light Heavyweight Bout – 10 Rounds
Marcus Browne: 175 ¾ pounds
Francy Ntetu: 174 ½ pounds
Heavyweight Bout – 10 Rounds
Adam Kownacki: 260 pounds
Iago Kiladze: 220 ½ pounds
“This is a tough challenge. If you know Lamont, you know he’s a tough fight but I came to dominate the division and it started with Kell Brook. I’m going to get Lamont Peterson and then I’m going to get the other welterweights that are out there.
“It’s definitely important not just to win the fight, but how I win the fight. I came to dominate the division and I came here to look good. I’m the future of the division and I’m the future of boxing.”
“I wouldn’t say that Errol isn’t the bigger guy, I just believe that it doesn’t matter. It’s all about boxing skills.
“I think we’ll both make each other look pretty good, but I’m going to win.”
Here is what the fighters had to say from world famous Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn on Wednesday:
ERROL SPENCE JR.
“I’m training for the Lamont Peterson that I know. He’s a hard worker, he’s hungry and he has a big heart. People shouldn’t look past this fight because I’m not at all. Peterson is a great fighter who’s seasoned.
“Everyone knows my style. The outcome usually is a stoppage. I won’t be looking for it, but if it presents itself, I’ll be ready to take advantage.
“I’m going to stick to my game plan. I can’t be worried about anything my opponent does during training camp. I have to focus on what I do best and listen to my coach. My style isn’t going to be effected by Lamont’s training.
“I’m keeping the same mentality that I’ve always had heading into fights. Winning the belt helped get my name out there, but my mentality is still to grind and stay hungry and listen to my coach. Nothing is different, I still change diapers and everything else you’d imagine.
“There are so many guys in the welterweight division, I want to clean them all out. If I keep beating the top guys, I’ll be the last one standing. I’m going to dominate like I’ve been doing.
“I’m not going to wait around for unification fights, I want to fight three times this year and I’ll take on the best opponent who steps into the ring.
“I’ll have to wait until I get into the ring to see how our power compares to each other. I’m the bigger guy but I don’t think we’ll really know until the first round. I’m going to stick to my game plan and adjust on the fly.
“I expect a 12 round fight and that’s what I train for. You have to have a smart coach to make adjustments during the fight and capitalize off your opponent’s mistakes.
“I know he’s going to be difficult. He’s a guy with fast feet who can come forward. He can basically do it all. I’m going to have to solve the puzzle.”
“The hard work is over and now we’re just fine-tuning and making sure everything is perfect for Saturday. It’s been a great training camp that was tough at times, but that’s exactly how we want it.
“Errol Spence is clearly a great fighter. I can see why people revere him in that way. But on Saturday, we’re going to give him a fight and he’s going to have to prove it.
“I don’t have to worry about what anyone says about us leading up to this fight. I know Errol well and it happened that it was time for us to fight. This is what we do so we’ll definitely give it our all on Saturday. My mentality is to win.
“I’ve been staying in the gym the whole time since my last fight. Even if I haven’t been fighting, I’ve been sparring and keeping my craft sharp. You never know how long a layoff will be, so I made sure to keep my mind on boxing.
“I can’t do anything but go in there and take care of my business. I can’t control the judges or anything that happens outside of us fighting. I’m trying to win a fight and that’s all I’m concerned about.
“I think the fans are really going to like this one. We may start out feeling each other, but I know from the way we both fight that it’s going to turn into a war pretty quickly.
“There’s nothing that I’m really looking to expose, but doing things at the right time during the fight will be key. Errol is a solid fighter across the board and we’ll see what he brings on fight night.
“I’m looking for a victory. That’s what I’ve trained for. It doesn’t matter how I get the win. I’m determined to take home that belt.”
“The fans can expect to see what they always see in my fights. It’s going to be hard work, blood, sweat and tears. We are going to have a knockout victory in this fight.
“Every fight is a big fight for me. Javier Fortuna is no stranger to this stage. He’s trying to get back to where I am, and the only thing that can stop him is me. Come Saturday night, he’s going to come up short.
“Most people think I’m supposed to be drained making this weight, but I’ve been doing this since the amateurs and even before. I’m no stranger to this. Making weight is easy for me.
“Sparring was really good. We had a tremendous training camp and I feel ready. I have a great team that’s gotten me perfectly prepared for this.
“I’ve fought big punchers before. This is nothing new to me. We’re going to make adjustments during the fight and get him out of there early.
“Don’t think that my skinny frame and long arms don’t have power in them. You will see that on display Saturday night.
“We’re going after him Saturday night. I’m going to hit him wherever he gives me openings. I’m looking to finish him off on Saturday. It’s going to be a breakout performance.
“A lot of guys are trying to prove they’re the best at the weight. Each fight for me is a preparation for unification bouts down the line. That’s what I really want.
“I’m 100 percent focused on this fight Saturday. Javier Fortuna is all that I’m thinking about. After that, I’m ready to go after Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares.”
“It means a lot to me to be fighting at home, especially with fighters I’m so familiar with like Errol and Robert. This is a great card to start the year off. I’m ready to take the next step in my career.
“It’s ‘strap season’ this year. Getting a world title is the only thing on my mind. I have to take care of what’s in front of me on Saturday.
“I just want to stay busy and work and improve my craft. You don’t get better by staying idle. This is a fight that will help me stay sharp and give me a good test.
“My weight is perfect and I’m in great shape right now. I’ve been staying sharp and making sure I’m ready to be at my best.
“My strategy is to stay focused and stay locked-in. I don’t need to get dragged into doing anything I don’t have to. I’m looking to put on a great performance.
“I feel like I’m the best in the division and it’s just a matter of time until I prove it. I have to be that confident. I’m going to show people each and every time I get in the ring.
“I have no picks on who I fight next. There are four champions out there and I’ll fight any one of them. I’m facing a really live guy who is tough and scrappy. He’s going to push hard until the end.”
“Marcus Browne is a good boxer with Olympic experience. He’s a strong competitor and an accurate puncher. I think he’s a lot like myself as a southpaw. It’s going to be a good matchup and a chess match on Saturday.
“I’m very aware of what Marcus brings to the ring and I hope he knows what I can do. We have a game plan that we’re going to implement. We’re definitely here to get the win.
“I’m a smart boxer with speed and quickness. Most of all, I have a big heart. I have a great team around me and they motivate me every day. I’m a high-quality fighter and I’ll show that in the ring.
“Like I’ve said before, it was an unfortunate stoppage last time I fought at Barclays Center, against David Benavidez. I felt like he was slowing down and I was going to start winning the fight. I can’t erase what happened, but I’m hoping to make a new memory at Barclays Center.
“I don’t feel much difference between super middleweight and light heavyweight. I’m comfortable at 175-pounds and I can’t wait to see what happens. I’m excited to show everyone what I can do.”
“I feel great right now. I’m ready to go. I’m just working on making sure my body is 100 percent to put on a great show Saturday night.
“I’ve had a nice long training camp heading into this fight. The sparring has been great and I feel like I’m going to be ready for anything Kiladze brings to the ring.
“It’s huge for me to build on the momentum I started with the knockout win over Artur Szpilka. I want to keep making big statements, improve my game and give people the big fights they want.
“I know Kiladze is coming up from the cruiserweight division, so I have to be ready for his speed. My sparring partners have gotten me ready for that challenge, because I think that will be the key.
“Him being trained by Freddie Roach doesn’t affect me. I have to be prepared and be at my best. It’s another day at the office for me.
“I’m a come forward fighter who’s going to go for the knockout. Expect me to go for the knockout on Saturday. The Polish fans are going to be out in full force like they always are and that motivation will carry me through.”
“I have experience but I’m still learning in this sport. This is my second time fighting at Barclays Center and I’m going to be confident no matter where I fight. Working with Freddie Roach is helping me in so many ways.
“Kownacki only has 14 fights, he’s not very experienced. He’s had a good run, but he’s never fought someone with my experience and skill.
“I intend to out box Kownacki but I have power as well. If I can hurt him, I’ll be ready to take him out and finish the job.
“We’ll never overlook an opponent. We had tremendous sparring for this fight with Murat Gassiev and others, everything is feeling great right now.
“I’m getting better and better every day. Cruiserweight made me too weak to make the weight. Now that I have Freddie and I’m at heavyweight, everything is smoother than ever.
“Kownacki is a big puncher with a good right hook. We know he’s dangerous but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
“I’m very confident. I feel more power and energy than ever. I feel like a different fighter. I’m working towards a world title. This is one of the first steps as I prepare to fight the top heavyweights in the world.”
“I truly believe, and I’m not saying this just because it’s my brother, I’m saying this because I know him physically, it’s going to be a TKO. Lamont is going to stop Errol in like the beginning of the 11th round. If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong.
“I’ve been in there with both of those guys, Javier Fortuna and Robert Easter, for the occasional sparring session. We’ve put hands on each other before, so I don’t see why it’s not okay to put hands on each other for work. At the end of the day you have to go in there and you have to fight. It’s nothing personal, it’s business. I definitely want the winner of that fight”
“I’m very familiar with Mikey Garcia’s style. I’m a fan of Mikey Garcia’s style. Because I’m a fan of his style, I want to fight that style. I have nothing but respect for Mikey Garcia because of his style. He’s got very good timing, he’s very smart and has a very good psyche in the ring. I’d love to test my skills against him.”
“Saturday I’m going to go in there and put on a show and get a knockout win. We’re building right now and climbing up to where we know we’re going to be. I know what’s in front of me.
“People should expect fireworks. I have big things planned for this sport, including Saturday night. I want to bring big fights here and help keep the sport of boxing alive. I want to be another great fighter from Brooklyn.
“I just did a lot of sparring in California with guys like Abraham Nova and Emmanuel Taylor and it was great work. I feel ready to get another one under my belt. We do what we have to do every time we’re in camp.”
Two-division world champion Lamont Peterson hosted a media workout in his hometown of Washington, D.C. Thursday as he prepares to take on unbeaten welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr. Saturday, January 20 live on SHOWTIME from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING® and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features lightweight world champion Robert Easter battling former champion Javier Fortuna.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions, are priced starting at $50, and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com, at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center or by calling 800-745-3000. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
Also in attendance at the workout was Peterson’s brother, once-beaten contender
Anthony Peterson, who competes in undercard action on the January 20 event.
Here is what the workout participants had to say Thursday:
“I feel great. I’m already close to weight. I’m happy and eating up to five times a day. I feel strong and I’m ready for this fight.
“I have to look at this as really just another big fight. When you’re at the top, you try not to make too much of each fight. We know what’s at stake. I know that when I keep it simple, that’s when I perform best.
“Right now my body feels better than ever. I’m comfortable with everything that’s gone on in camp and I think you can see it in my body.
“I’ve always trained hard since the first day I came here as a child. That’s been instilled in me since a young age and it’s carried me throughout my career.
“Everything I do is for D.C. I’m trying to get as much recognition for this area the best way I can. That’s what we all strive for in this boxing gym. This is the biggest one that’s been on the boxing schedule for a while and I’m ready to bring it home.
“It gets easier and easier the more championship fights I’m in. I was in shape for all of them, but I definitely put more pressure on myself when I was young. I’ve improved each time and now I feel like I’m really at the perfect place in my career.”
“I have to make a statement. I never feel comfortable with a decision. I think that’s a good thing because I have to be special under the bright lights.
“Everyone knows I like to go to the body. You know I’m going to make him work so you can look out for me to break my opponent down on the January 20.
“I’ve been sparring with a variety of experienced fighters over the last year and they’ve helped me out even while I haven’t had a fight. Ring rust is all mental. It’s up to you to put the work in.
“I haven’t gotten the fights that I want, but I’ll always stick to my game and stick to my craft. I know if I persevere, things will work out for me.
“I know that I love this sport. I know that eventually I will be a world champion. I believe in my future and I’m looking forward to big fights.
“It’s inspiring to watch Lamont do his thing and succeed. He’s going to beat Errol Spence, even if people don’t believe it. I think he’s going to take care of business.”
BARRY HUNTER, Peterson’s Trainer
“It’s been a long grind in camp for these guys. When I think back on how long we’ve been on this journey, I’m very proud of them. They were 9 and 10 when they first came into the gym.
“We don’t have the weight monster to deal with fighting at welterweight. Lamont is in a great place mentally and physically. I’m looking forward to an explosive fight.
“When you look at the Spence-Brook fight, early on Brook had a lot of success. Down the stretch Errol imposed his will and broke Brook down. I know Errol well and I’ve coached him. He has a strong will. He’s not great in one area, but he’s good in a lot of areas. This is a different kind of guy he’s facing. Heart is something Lamont is nowhere near short on. I think this might start off tactical, and then turn into a war.
“My job is to go in there with part of a plan, but it’s always about adjustments for us. Whatever Errol brings to the table, we’ll figure it out and put everything in motion.
“This last week is a lot of game plan and mental preparation work. A lot of fighters don’t train the mind. You have to train the mind even more so than the body. We have to be ready for every scenario.
“I think if Anthony goes in there and does his job there are a few vacant titles at 140-pounds and that’s a track for us. We want to get a strap around his waist and we’ll face anyone to get it.
“Lamont, along with Anthony, Gary Russell Jr., Jarrett Hurd and Gervonta Davis, have been holding down boxing in this area for a long time. It would be huge to bring this title home. There are a lot of young Lamont Petersons in this area who want to reach this
Here is what the press conference participants had to say Wednesday:
ERROL SPENCE JR.
“You’re going to see the same Errol Spence that you’re used to. I can’t look ahead because I know how dangerous Lamont Peterson is. I’ve been in training camps with him and I know what he can do.
“I’ve seen too many fighters look down the road and get beat before they get to the big fight. I have to be 100 percent focused and hungry. I’m fully dedicated to this fight.
“Lamont can push me to even greater levels. I feel like he is a better fighter than Kell Brook and has even more heart than Kell Brook and he can bring out the best in me.
“I think it’s going to start out as a boxing match, but as we go on, it’s going to be a dog fight. We both have big hearts. I’ve never known Lamont to turn down any fight. Not a lot of people wanted to fight me. The big names shied away from me but Lamont stood up and said he’d fight me. This is going to be a hard fight.
“I used to watch Lamont and his brother Anthony Peterson before I ever met them. I like their styles, the way they throw body punches and the fundamentals that they learned from Barry Hunter.
“I think I can be known as the best pound-for-pound in the sport, but I have to take it one fight at a time. I want to be the undisputed welterweight champion. That should be everyone’s ultimate goal – to be the best fighter in the sport. But first I have a big test ahead of me January 20.
“This is the business of the sport. I was a young guy when Lamont was giving me advice. Now we’ve gotten to this point. It really shows his longevity in the sport and how I’ve reached the ranks of being a top pro fighter.
“Sparring with Lamont Peterson was really great work. It was a learning experience. I was an amateur so I was going at a fast pace and Lamont was being patient, blocking and countering and picking his shots. He was fighting at a pro pace and I didn’t really understand it until I got farther into my career.
“You’ve seen me and Lamont fight. We’re not in boring fights. We have fan-friendly styles and you’re going to get a really good fight. We have the mentality to really go after it and give it our all to get this win.
“I want the best in this division to all fight each other. It’s time for everyone else to stand up and proclaim that they want to be great. That’s how we get this division to the peak. I don’t feel like waiting to fight the best. I want to prove myself.”
“This is a world title fight and I’m thankful for that. I try not to make too much out of each fight. I just want to take it one fight at a time. I’ve done this for 13 years as a professional. All fights are the same. I’m going to go in there and take care of business.
“As a top fighter, you’re obligated to take what comes on the table. Regardless of who it is. It’s boxing. It’s a sport and we’re competitors. We want to go in there and compete to see who’s the best. We’re going to treat it like business like we always do.
“You already know when I fight, it’s a feeling out process to start, but in my head, I’m ready to go. It’s going to get rough in the trenches and we’ll see who wants it more.
“I knew six years ago when Errol was in my camp that we’d get to this point. I knew he would be a champion. For the most part, I’ve seen him improve and progress throughout the pro ranks and I believe he’s going to keep getting better.
“I don’t pay any attention to the outside noise. I respect everyone’s opinion. I just go out and train to do what I love to do. I do this because I love to box. I’m not here to get on a list. I truly love this sport.
“I can’t worry about people thinking that Errol is the next star in this sport. I believe that, but I can’t worry about it. It is up to me and my team to come up with the right type of strategy and execute it.
“I’m not too worried about figuring out his southpaw stance. I’ve been around long enough and encountered enough southpaws. I’m confident I’ll be able to handle it.
“The size may seem like an advantage for Errol, but it’s up to me and my team to figure out the best way to negate it. I know who I am. I’m a competitive person. Regardless of everything, I’m going to come to win.”
DERRICK JAMES, Spence’s Trainer
“We have a game plan in place. We’ll try to perfect everything leading up to this one. We’re working on making Errol a more complete fighter every time out. He’ll be better than he was when you saw him against Brook.
“We’re looking for the perfect fight. It takes a great fighter to bring out the greatness in another great fighter. These guys are high caliber fighters and it’s about as good a matchup as you can have in the division.
“These are two guys with the mentality to go after it. But they also have technical skill. This is going to be an old school fight between guys with real skills.
“It’s one thing to do it, but it’s another to teach. I’ve really understood this sport since I became a trainer. Fighters are developed, not born. I’m going to keep working with these guys on the fundamentals so we can bring up the whole sport.”
BARRY HUNTER, Peterson’s Trainer
“When I look at Errol Spence, I instantly fell in love with him because he reminded me of Lamont so much. They both have that dog mentality. I’ve always known he was a special fighter.
“Lamont told me when he worked with Errol that he really liked the kid. He knew he would be a world champion. I had to remind myself that this is business. We have to fight our friends.
“These are the two guys who are ready to fight anybody. The fight on January 20 is going to be one to remember. It’s a fan-friendly fight.
“Errol Spence is the best fighter in the welterweight division. You have athletes that can fight and athletes who are fighters. Errol and Lamont are both. They have the skills and they have the ability to fight.
“To be the best in the world, you have to fight the best in the world. All the greats have done it. In order to get back to the glory days, we need to put the best against the best. I have confidence in Lamont Peterson against anybody.”
LOU DIBELLA, President of DiBella Entertainment
“There are very few fights you could make that are better in the welterweight division than this fight. It’s going to take place at the home of big-time boxing, here at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and live on SHOWTIME.
“Errol Spence is one of the most talked about fighters in the sport. Some think he could be the best fighter in the world. He’s consistently said he only wants to fight the best and on January 20 he will be fighting another champion and another great welterweight. Lamont Peterson never backs down from a challenge and we know he’ll be ready for this fight on January 20.
“This is a great event that continues the run of significant meaningful matchups on SHOWTIME. It’s been great quality programming. The fight cards have all been incredibly easy to promote because the fights have been so strong. You have to make fights with great fighters battling other great fighters. That’s what we need to energize our fans and our sport.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive VP & General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports
“As we come to the end of 2017 we look back on what has been a really strong year. 25 nights of live boxing, 80 live boxing matches and 27 world title fights. Not just title fights, but world title fights featuring top ranked challengers against top ranked champions.
“We’ve brought you the most watched fight of the year in Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia right here at Barclays Center on CBS. It was also the most watched primetime boxing match in nearly 20 years. But we will not be resting on our laurels.
“We’ll kick off next year with an incredibly strong card. Errol Spence has grown up on SHOWTIME and we’re proud of that. He made his debut on ShoBox and won his world title on SHOWTIME. He has knocked out nine straight opponents and in his last five fights his opponents have an impressive record of 141-7-3.
“Not a lot of fighters are rushing to fight Errol Spence. Lamont Peterson not only stepped up to the challenge, but he relinquished his welterweight title to take this fight. That’s the kind of fighter he is. He has one of the strongest resumes in the division and he’s fought the best guys in the sport.
“We’re thrilled to kick off the year with this matchup. It’s another great fight in the welterweight division, a division we’ve been paying a lot of attention to for years. We’ll see you on January 20.”
BRETT YORMARK, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment
“We’re coming off of an incredible 2017 for BROOKLYN BOXING. It far exceeded my expectations. We’re very committed to boxing, not just now, but in the future. This fight kicks off what I think will be a great 2018 for BROOKLYN BOXING.
“Lamont was on the first ever PBC card at Barclays Center in 2015 and Brooklyn is happy to have you back. Errol was here in the spring of 2016 and we’ve had him as a fan several times, but we far prefer having you here in the ring.
“Barclays Center is known for hosting 50-50 fights and this is no different. We’re thrilled to be holding this event here in Brooklyn. We look forward to seeing you on January 20.”
Rising stars and veteran contenders will enter the ring on Saturday, January 20 looking to start their 2018 with a statement victory when they compete in undercard action from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING®, on the undercard for the welterweight championship showdown between IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. and two-division champion Lamont Peterson.
Undefeated 135-pound world champion Robert Easter will defend his IBF Title against former world champion Javier Fortuna in the co-main event live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING PRELIMS, unbeaten light heavyweight Marcus Browne will take on once-beaten Francy Ntetu in a 10-round fight and undefeated heavyweight sensation Adam Kownacki will face Iago Kiladze of Kiev, Ukraine in a 10-round bout.
The live digital offering will stream exclusively in the U.S. on the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and the SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions, are priced starting at $50, and are on sale now. The Easter-Fortuna bout is promoted in association with Sampson Boxing and About Billions Promotions. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com, at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center or by calling 800-745-3000. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
Here is what the fighters had to say about their January 20 matchups and more:
ROBERT EASTER (20-0, 14 KOs) – Making third defense of IBF Lightweight World Title
“This fight can definitely set a good tone for me in 2018. I’m going to be making a statement with this fight. My last three fights I haven’t gotten a knockout. I’m going to be giving my fans and fight fans a good show.
“I’m going to use my reach and length and destroy this guy from the outside. All my career I’ve been fighting shorter guys. Every short guy doesn’t fight the same. But you get in the ring and you feel him out and make adjustments.
“There’s nothing in particular that I have to prepare for with Fortuna. I take every fight the same. Every fighter fights different so you get in there, feel him out and make adjustments as you go along. I’m not worried about him being a southpaw. I’ve faced plenty of lefties in my career and in the amateurs. That’s no problems at all.
“I think what makes me the more dangerous boxer in this fight is having the height that I do and the punching power and the speed and the mindset as well. My mindset is that I’m not going in there to play around with him. I’m ready to destroy.
“My goals for 2018 are to capture more titles and to get unification bouts. We had a few champions in the weight class, but it appears that no one is willing to fight the other champions. We’re willing to do whatever it takes, fight whoever has the titles. We’re willing to capture all those titles whenever the other guys are willing to sign up for the fights.”
JAVIER FORTUNA (33-1-1, 23 KOs) – Former Super Featherweight World Champion
“My preparation for this fight is going very well. I’ve been working out in the Dominican Republic, but I’ve come back to Boston to finish my training. Right now we’re at 75% and closing in on 100%. I will be completely prepared when it’s time to fight. My preparation and my strategy make me the more dangerous guy.
“I see this like no other fight that I’ve had before, because every opponent is different. Everyone has their own niche at this level, something that works for them. His niche is that he’s tall. He uses that to his advantage. But it’s nothing that I can’t overcome. I’ve fought tall guys before.
“I prefer my opponents to be taller. It plays into what I’m able to do. I’ve never had a problem with taller opponents. Abner Cotto (5-10) is one of tall guys that I fought. I fought in Chicago and put on a great performance. (Fortuna scored a 5th round KO against Cotto)
“My goal for 2018 is to fight all the top elite fighters in my weight class, and I’m trying to become mentioned as one of the best in the sport. I really want to win another world title in a different weight class. It would be the biggest moment so far of my career to get another world title.”
MARCUS BROWNE (20-0, 15 KOs) – Top 10 Ranked at 175 lbs. (WBC, WBO, WBA & IBF)
“My opponent (Francy Ntetu, 17-1, 4 KOs) looks like a durable, tough guy. I see this fight being very exciting for the fans for as long as it lasts. I saw a little bit of tape on him. I know he always comes in tip-top shape, and I hear he’s consistent in his performance in the ring. I just know I’m going to have to be sharp on Jan. 20.
“It’s always an honor to fight here at home and at Barclays Center. It’s special to be able to perform in front of these fans and I can’t wait to put on a good performance leading up to the Spence vs. Peterson fight.
“This fight could put me in the position that I need to be in to fight for a world title. I can’t be lacking in any way. I have to come out strong with a great performance from start to finish and leave no doubt in there.
“For 2018, I want to become a world champion. I’m determined tomake it happen this year. That vision starts on Jan. 20 at Barclays Center against Francy Ntetu.”
FRANCY NTETU (17-1, 4 KOs) – Fought David Benavidez at Barclays Center in June 2015
“I know Marcus Browne is probably taking me lightly and thinks he will simply go through me. I hope that’s the case, because it’s going be a shock to him, the fans and his team when I take his spot in line for a title. I want to face Eleider Alvarez in our hometown of Montreal after I get this win.
“My previous fight at Barclays Center against the current WBC champion David Benavidez was obviously a very bad decision by the referee to stop the fight, especially when I was winning the round and Benavidez was slowing down. I was getting stronger while he was getting weaker.
“I’ve never been hurt and never been dropped in a fight. I want Marcus to challenge himself and see if he can do something no one else has. I’m excited to be in a fight of this magnitude. Marcus, it’s time for us to give the fans what they want!”
ADAM KOWNACKI (16-0, 13 KOs) – Originally from Poland & fighting out of Brooklyn
“This fight is going to be another step toward becoming a champion. I know I’m going to have to work very hard and prove that I’m continuing to build on my win against Szpilka. From the video I’ve seen on Iago Kiladze (26-1, 18 KOs), he moves a lot, so I’ll be needing to cut off the ring. Whatever he brings to the ring, I’ll have an answer for.
“Three years in a row now I’ve been fighting in January. I love starting off the year strong. My wife and I actually started a tradition of the “Kownacki Family Run” at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Since I’m always preparing for a fight around New Year’s, we figured we might as well have fun while we work. So, we’ll have some friends come out and run a few miles with us around the neighborhood during the fireworks. It’s fun and helps get me ready.
“Ultimately, I’m looking to become the best in the heavyweight division. The end goal for this year is to become a world champion. But the very first step is taking Iago Kiladze very seriously. I can’t look past January 20 right now. I have a tough opponent who will challenge and make me a better fighter in the long run.”
IAGO KILADZE, Third fight since move up to heavyweight division (2-0, 2 KOs)
“I feel great and my training has been terrific. My trainer is Freddie Roach now. I sparred with (IBF Cruiserweight Champion) Murat Gassiev three times recently which is great preparation for me. I believe I can knockout Kownacki but if I have to go the distance I’m prepared for that. Either way, I’ll be victorious. I’m feel that I’m the more skilled fighter and that will show in the ring.
“This is a great fight for my career and a terrific start for 2018. I know that if I win this fight I’ll be that much closer to a world title opportunity.
“My goal is to be a world champion at the end of 2018. I want to continue improving and learning under Freddie and with his guidance I’m confident of success.”
Undefeated IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. will make the first defense of his title when he takes on former two-division world champion Lamont Peterson on Saturday, January 20 live on SHOWTIME. The event is presented by Premier Boxing Champions from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING®.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING coverage begins live at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will feature undercard attractions that will be announced in the near future.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions, are priced starting at $50, and go on sale Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center starting Thursday, Nov. 23 at noon. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will also be available in Spanish via secondary audio programming (SAP).
“I’m pleased to be promoting Spence vs. Peterson, one of the very best matchups in the welterweight division and in all of boxing,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “Spence is not only one of the best welterweights in the world, but one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing. In Peterson, he faces another elite welterweight and a two-time world champion. Spence vs. Peterson will bring the heat to Barclays Center on a chilly January 20. This is yet another night in the outstanding run of big time fights on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING.”
“Spence vs. Peterson is an intriguing matchup between two elite welterweights looking to reach the top of this marquee division,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Errol Spence is a rising star with his sights set on title unification and the top of the pound-for-pound list, but he’s going to receive a stern test from Lamont Peterson, a multiple division champion whose resume is filled with top class opponents. It’s going to be another fantastic atmosphere at Barclays Center and a great night of fights live on SHOWTIME.”
“With his breakout performance against Kell Brook, Errol Spence established himself as one of top fighters in the welterweight division, if not in all of boxing,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports. “Never one to rest on his laurels, Errol continues to seek out the toughest available opponents, and he has found exactly that in Lamont Peterson. Lamont has never backed down from a challenge, and as a result, he has a wealth of experience with one of the strongest resumes in the division. This type of high profile, dangerous matchup is the quintessential SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING main event.”
“BROOKLYN BOXING enjoyed a banner year in 2017, and we are looking forward to carrying that momentum into 2018,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. “Spence vs. Peterson sets a strong precedent for the year, with two top welterweights returning to the ring at Barclays Center to compete for recognition in one of the sport’s most talented divisions.”
Spence (22-0, 19 KOs), of Dallas, traveled to England to dethrone IBF 147-pound champion and hometown favorite Kell Brook on May 27 on SHOWTIME in one of the defining fights of 2017. The 27-year-old, who had long been touted as boxing’s next big thing, fulfilled his promise with a breakthrough performance, fracturing Brook’s orbital bone en route to an 11th round TKO. A 2012 U.S. Olympian, Spence will enter the ring at Barclays Center for the third time after most recently stopping former champion Chris Algieri in an April 2016 main event. He will fight in Brooklyn for the fourth time; he earned his title shot by knocking out Leonard Bundu at the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk in August 2016.
“My goal is to unify the welterweight division in 2018, but this fight is a true test and Lamont Peterson is a veteran that I definitely will not overlook,” said Spence. “I sparred him in the amateurs and I know what he brings to the table. I have to get through him to achieve my goals and that is what I plan on doing January 20th.”
Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs), of Washington, D.C., has won titles at 140 and 147 pounds while facing some of the biggest names in the sport, including Danny Garcia, Amir Khan and Timothy Bradley. The 33-year-old won the WBA 147-pound title in his last outing Feb. 18 on SHOWTIME before relinquishing the belt for the chance to challenge Spence. Peterson has won four of his last five outings, twice fighting at Barclays Center. His Brooklyn debut saw him defeat Edgar Santana by TKO in 2014 before dropping a narrow majority draw to Garcia in a 2015 main event in Brooklyn.
“First off, I’m happy to be getting back in the ring,” said Peterson. “I’ve stayed in the gym and I’m ready to go. This is a fight I wanted and as I said before when I became a welterweight, I want to fight the best and make the fights that people want to see. I’m ready to give it my all and give the fans a great show.”
UNDEFEATED 135-POUND CHAMPION ROBERT EASTER DEFENDS AGAINST FORMER WORLD CHAMPION JAVIER FORTUNA IN THE SPENCE-PETERSON CO-FEATURE SATURDAY, JAN. 20 LIVE ON SHOWTIME® FROM BARCLAYS CENTER IN BROOKLYN & PRESENTED BY PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS
Light Heavyweight Contender Marcus Browne Clashes with Canada’s Francy Ntetu & Heavyweight Sensation Adam Kownacki Battles Iago Kiladze in the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING PRELIMS Streaming Live on SHOWTIME Sports® Digital Platforms
BROOKLYN (December 22, 2017) – Undefeated 135-pound world champion Robert Easter will defend his IBF Title against former world champion Javier Fortuna in the co-main event of Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) on Saturday, Jan. 20 from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING® and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
Easter vs. Fortuna rounds out the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader that features IBF Welterweight World Champion and 2012 U.S. Olympian Spence making his first title defense against former two-division world champion Peterson.
In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING PRELIMS, unbeaten light heavyweight Marcus Browne, from Staten Island, will take on once-beaten Francy Ntetu in a 10-round fight and undefeated heavyweight sensation Adam Kownacki, who fights out of Brooklyn by way of Lomza, Poland, will face once-beaten Iago Kiladze of Kiev, Ukraine in a 10-round bout.
The live digital offering will be exclusive in the U.S. on the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and the SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page.
SHOWTIME is the only network to offer live streaming coverage of boxing on social media platforms in the U.S., having first done so in 2016 with the presentation of two heavyweight world championship bouts live on YouTube.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions, are priced starting at $50, and are on sale now. The Easter-Fortuna bout is promoted in association with Sampson Boxing and About Billions Promotions. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com, at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center or by calling 800-745-3000. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
Easter (20-0, 14 KOs) will be making the third defense of his lightweight world title since he won it with a split decision over Richard Commey on Sept. 9, 2016. The 26-year-old Easter successfully defended the title twice in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio last year, defeating Luis Cruz by unanimous decision on Feb. 10 and then following it up with a unanimous decision victory over Denis Shafikov in his last outing on June 30.
“When I first won the title I knew that many obstacles would be thrown at me, but that’s what the game is all about,’’ Easter said. “I’ve successfully overcome them and defended the title in some tough fights and on January 20th we’re looking to do the same thing. I believe every fighter can give you problems, but professionals make adjustments and take over the fight. That’s what I’m going to do. I know he’s a former world champion looking to regain a title, but this time he signed up for the wrong guy. We always work hard and we’ve turned it up a notch since we found out who the opponent would be. I’m just excited. I’m ready to go today if I have to.’’
Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) is returning to the scene of his first world championship victory when he defeated then champion Bryan Vasquez by unanimous decision for the 130-pound title at Barclays Center on May 29, 2015. Fortuna lost the title to Jason Sosa by technical knockout in Beijing, China on June 24, 2016 in a fight Fortuna led on the scorecards. The 28-year-old southpaw who fights out of Braintree, Mass. by way of Dominican Republic, has won four straight since his lone loss to get in contention for a title at 135 pounds, including triumphs over then undefeated fighters Omar Douglas and Nicolas Polanco.
“I’m just very gracious, appreciative and honored for the opportunity to fight for the world title again,’’ Fortuna said. “I feel really good about this fight. With God first I will be a world champion again. Easter is tall, active and he’s strong. But I feel like I’m stronger and I can punch much harder. Training is going smooth now, but the intensity will pick up as we get closer to the fight. ‘’
Browne (20-0, 15 KOs) has put together back-to-back impressive knockout victories to continue his rapid rise up the highly competitive 175-pound division. The 27-year-old southpaw knocked out Thomas Williams, Jr. in Cincinnati on Feb. 18, and followed it up with another stunning knockout victory over then unbeaten Seanie Monaghan in Long Island on July 15. The 2012 U.S. Olympian will look to put himself in position for a world title fight with a convincing win on Jan. 20.
Ntetu (17-1, 4 KOs) was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but lives and trains out of Quebec, Canada. The veteran won his first 16 pro fights, including victories over experienced challengers Milton Nunez and Oscar Riojas. Ntetu previously fought at Barclays Center in June 2016 when he went toe-to-toe with current super middleweight world champion David Benavidez before eventually suffering the first loss of his career.
Kownacki (16-0, 13 KOs) has made steady progress up the heavyweight ladder, scoring knockout victories in his last three matches. The 28-year-old Kownacki will be fighting for the sixth time at Barclays Center in his hometown of Brooklyn. In his last fight he knocked out former world title challenger Artur Szpilka at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. on July 15 in a matchup of top Polish heavyweights.
Kiladze (26-1, 18 KOs) will be fighting for a second straight time at Barclays Center after the 31-year-old scored a TKO victory over Pedro Rodriguez in his last fight on Nov. 4 in the non-televised undercard of Wilder-Stiverne II. The only loss of his career came via knockout to Youri Kayembre Kalenga in Berlin, Germany in 2013 back when he was fighting at cruiserweight. Kiladze is unbeaten since campaigning at heavyweight full time and looks to mark his arrival on the division on January 20th.