By Christopher Nicastro
Posted: March 1, 2016
“The truth will set you free, but not until it is finished with you.”—David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
In boxing’s medieval kingdom that is The Money Team, every fighter has his place. Floyd Mayweather is its emperor and godhead. Adrien Broner is the clown prince, and Errol Spence Jr. is the castle guard, standing erect, spear in hand, mystified by opaque armor bearing an inscription reading out “The Truth.”
Spence has adopted “The Truth” as his nickname, and he as a fighter is as nebulous as the nickname. Little is known about him in the ring. He has faced prospect after prospect, barreling over them without the faintest hint of expression on his face.
But the world has yet to meet the true Spence, the one who must, like all fighters eventually do, adapt in the face of adversity. That adversity could very well come in the face of Long Island native Chris Algieri on April 16 when the two will square off in Brooklyn.
Jokes about Algieri being let out of the cage are passé. Since fighting Amir Khan last May and taking a decision over a game Erick Bone (who even gave A-class Welterweight Shawn Porter trouble), Algieri and his partnership with John David Jackson have shown that he is legit. Algieri may often be an underdog, but he shows up to every fight under the conviction that he is there to win.
Photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing
Algieri was brought in to lose to Ruslan Provodnikov and won, albeit controversially. Algieri was brought in to lose to Manny Pacquiao and refused to be knocked out while taking a beating and being guided by an inexperienced and overwhelmed corner team.
He was brought in as bait against Khan only to rock the Brit in the first round, and very nearly took a draw in a performance that stunned those who believed Khan could breeze his way to an easy decision or stoppage.
Algieri has never been stopped and his resume is increasingly impressive, even though he’s never won or convincingly won against the top-tier opposition. This works both in favor and against Algieri and Spence going into this fight. If Spence can stop him, he’ll have done something that Provodnikov, Pacquiao, and Khan were all unable to do.
Spence will be no doubt elevated to new heights and in all likelihood will become a very avoided fighter. Spence gives no financial incentive for other Welterweights to get their brains knocked around and—this especially goes for Danny Garcia—they will all avoid him and probably refuse to acknowledge his presence.
Spence could screw himself over if he is to win by stoppage against Algieri. It would be the end of the line for name-brand opponents to step up to the plate at least until Spence can establish himself as a fiscally sound A-side.
Spence could also screw himself over if he loses the fight. Algieri is a good fighter, world-class even. But he is not a legend in the making the way that Spence allegedly is.
He is a fun, television-friendly fighter that is at his best when the odds are against him, but you’ll never see him topping lists as one of the best in the post-Mayweather era. If Algieri outboxes Spence, the truth will be revealed. Spence will have to return to the drawing board and claw his way back to legitimacy.
As a prospect, Spence is feared. He allegedly knocked out Broner and made Mayweather quit in sparring sessions. If the legends are true, he should be able to take care of Algieri. But if Spence isn’t ready, Algieri will give him hell. And if Spence isn’t actually The Truth, then the truth will set him free.