Tupac Shakur is still alive.
In its infancy is “The Sopranos”, as producer David Chase is feverishly trying to sell HBO on James Gandolfini as the star of this show, one that would change television history and become a pop-cultural masterpiece. Tom Brady is struggling to separate himself from a cadre of quarterbacks at Michigan, and Bill Clinton has not yet lied to us by saying: “I did not. Have sex. With that woman…”
The year is 1995, and a young upstart named Floyd Mayweather Jr. has not yet tasted unlikely defeat at the 1996 Olympic Games to claim what remains a bitter bronze medal. It is also the same year that he stepped into the ring with all-time great Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker for a very memorable sparring session. By all accounts, an 18 year-old Mayweather was able to solve the defensive wizardry of Whitaker, while subjecting the ring legend to his more advanced version over four significant rounds. Right then and there, a proverbial torch was passed, as “Pretty Boy” Floyd became the de facto king of a new generation of fighters, after easily out-boxing the greatest pure boxer of his own generation.
Fast-forward to early 2013.
Old “Money” has decided to stop making it with HBO, and is preparing for his Showtime debut against Robert Guerrero. In his last outing at welterweight, Floyd won a rare exciting fight against Puerto Rican great Miguel Cotto via clean 12 round unanimous decision, but his face is left battered and bruised by the ambidextrous Cotto in victory. So Floyd decides to bring his father back to train him and tighten up the greatest defense in the history of the sport. One of the first things Floyd Sr. does is bring in an unknown commodity in Errol Spence Jr. to test his son’s prowess.
There was the same difference in age, as 13 years separated Mayweather and Spence, as was the case for Whitaker and Mayweather (Floyd is 36 to Spence’s 23, as he was 18 to Whitaker’s “old” 31 in 1995). According to witnesses present, the sparring was very real and extremely intense, as Spence gave a not quite in shape Mayweather a beating and rocked him on multiple occasions. Floyd will deny this- but its the truth. The two sparred again a few times during that camp, with Mayweather facing extreme difficulty each time. The same thing happened in the year 2000 between Pacquiao and the great Ricardo Lopez.
In truth, it was another passing of the torch, and a validation of future greatness for Spence from one generation to another. The past week has been an interesting one for Spence, following his brutal 5th round evisceration of Chris Algieri. He indirectly compared himself favorably to Manny Pacquiao and drew the ire of Freddie Roach (at this stage of their games, Pac would still get Spence spun like laundry). Considering Algieri is somewhat overrated (count me among those who don’t believe he beat Ruslan Provodnikov in June 2014), we still have to see more. But the way he stopped him provided a glimpse of bigger things to come.
IBF welterweight boss Kell Brook appears to be on the horizon, as a fight between Spence and Top Rank’s Konstantin Ponomarev has been ordered by the IBF, with the winner set to face Brook. This is classic Al Haymon, who has apparently formed some sort of deal with Bob Arum to re-shape the welterweight landscape. Brook is the most difficult assignment among all of the welterweight champions, and if he beats Brook convincingly, then he would have to be favored over WBC champion Danny “Swift” Garcia and WBA beltholder Keith “One-Time” Thurman.
With Thurman and Shawn Porter now set to go in June, it would seem this business move to get Spence in with a Top Rank fighter on the cusp of his first world championship fight means that Danny Garcia and WBO welterweight champion Jesse Vargas could be headed toward a showdown soon. The winner of that fight (I would give a slight edge to Garcia in that one) would then face the winner of Thurman/Porter (Thurman is going to annihilate Porter), with the winner of that fight setting up a unification war with Spence for welterweight supremacy.
By the end of 2016, no one will be mourning the losses of Mayweather and Pacquiao anymore, as a new era in boxing has clearly begun. All signs indicate that Mayweather will probably come back to face Gennady Golovkin in May 2017, and Pacquiao has a superfight with Canelo on deck this fall after he buries Amir Khan. But neither of them will be facing the new generational talents at welterweight, so long live the new kings of boxing’s glamour division fight fans. For more on the exciting events taking place at 147 and all current news on your favorite fighters in or around 147, please be sure to visit Real Combat Media.