For a fighter nicknamed “The Truth,” it is perhaps no surprise that Errol Spence Jr. has produced all the right answers in his career so far.
When faced with the prospect of fighting a world champion in his own backyard, Spence silenced any doubters by beating Kell Brook to claim the IBF welterweight title.
SPENCE vs. GARCIA: Fight time, PPV info, odds
He was more than up to the task when Mikey Garcia stepped up to try to take his crown, and then produced the goods when the opportunity arose to take the WBC belt from Shawn Porter in September 2019.
At 26-0, Spence is not just right at the top of his own division but also firmly in the conversation to be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
And yet, as he prepares to face Danny Garcia, there are new questions. Not over his talent, at least not on previous evidence. Not over his heart either, considering the choice of opponent on Saturday.
For Spence, this is the first outing since a car accident that could have resulted in far more physical problems than cuts and bruises, albeit the post-incident picture of him in a hospital bed showed the true extent of the damage after he had been flung from his Ferrari in the early hours of an October morning.
The coronavirus pandemic has delayed his comeback for a little longer, but the 30-year-old has not taken the cautious route as he bids to show it is business as usual.
“Boxing is about timing,” trainer Dominic Ingle, who was in Brook’s corner when Spence dethroned the Englishman in May 2017, told Stats Perform News.
That fight came along at the right time for Spence, as he went in against a rival who was dropping back down following an unsuccessful tilt up at middleweight against Gennady Golovkin, one that left him considerably richer but also needing surgery on a broken eye socket.
“Kell had not really started the camp when I wanted him to, maybe six or seven weeks later than he should. There were a lot of problems during it too, as he kept getting ill,” Ingle explained.
“The Kell Brook who fought Errol Spence was probably at 85-90 percent, which you can’t be against that sort of opponent.”
Brook started well enough at Bramall Lane but was slowly and steadily forced onto the back foot before being stopped in the 11th round, having suffered a serious injury to his other eye.
“If the eye hadn’t have gone, possibly Kell would have scraped his way through it, even with the tide turning,” Ingle recalls. “But what beat Kell, in my opinion, was not being at 100 percent.”
So, then, will Spence be at his peak after so long out, and considering everything he has been through since that points triumph over Porter?
“If Spence had not had that accident I’d have expected him to do a number on Garcia, but I’m not so sure now,” adds Ingle. “This will be the first fight since that accident, so you don’t know. No matter the training, you just don’t know.
“We didn’t know what Kell was going to be like after fighting Golovkin when he came back in to take on Spence. There was nothing in between, just straight back into another hard fight.”
Spence has been clear in the build-up that the accident has changed nothing, saying at the final news conference: “Everyone is going to see the same Errol Spence Jr. on Saturday night.”
Still, there is always an element of uncertainty for any fighter when climbing between the ropes. Garcia will hope to find any weaknesses, albeit there are questions for him over just how much is left in the tank.
For Spence, though, the belief in his abilities seemingly remains strong — perhaps even stronger — after what he has been through. Now it is time to find out if he has been telling the truth all along.