Bermall Lane Football Ground, London, England, May 27
By Peter Lim
All things being equal and sans any unforeseen collisions of styles, sleights of hand, or tricks under their sleeves, Spence (21-0, 18 KOs) should emerge victorious in this scintillating encounter. His slick southpaw mode of combat, explosive punching and defense should allow him to out-maneuver Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) to a close but unanimous decision.
But in this sport where two men of similar size do battle in a 20X20 square foot ring, all things are never equal. And there are always intangibles that come into play.
We know Brook has a rock solid chin, having stood up to Gennady Golovkin's murderous punches for five rounds while managing to effectively return fire in spurts. But Spence is riding a 12-fight KO streak, scoring knockouts against fighters who had never previously been stopped in his last six bouts. Unlike Golovkin, though, Spence's potency stems from accuracy, timing and immaculate technique which can have a different impact than sheer brute punching power.
Punch for punch, Spence is probably the deadlier of the two, but Brook is no slouch in the rocking, socking department either. Moreover, he throws punches in bunches and has the propensity and audacity to return fire a split second after getting nailed. He hits harder than any fighter Spence has previously faced, and Spence's chin has never been significantly tested before. The quintessential bully, Brook imposes his will on his opponents simply by being rougher, tougher and more alpha.
But Spence's ring generalship, rooted in his decorated amateur career, ensures that he avoids being lured into the back-alley brawl that Brook will try to instigate. Time and again, Brook manages to rock him with clean punches but Spence has the wherewithal to cover, clinch and spin away from any sustained punishment and box his way to a decision win in the 115-113 to 116-112 range.