Two undefeated rising stars will face what should be the toughest tests of their respective careers this Friday, June 27.
In the Showtime televised main event, Errol “The Truth” Spence, Jr. (12-0, 10 KOs), of Dallas, Texas, will face young veteran Ronald Cruz (20-3, 15 KOs), of Bethlehem, Pa., in a 10-round welterweight bout. In the co-feature, Dominic “Lights Out” Wade (15-0, 11 KOs), of Washington, D.C., takes on New York’s Nick “The Machine Gun” Brinson (16-1-2, 6 KOs) in a 10-round middleweight clash.
In a night of “step-up” fights from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, the talented prospects will look to prove that they are destined to be world champions, while their opponents look to continue a trend on the popular developmental series by handing them their first loss. To date, 121 boxers suffered their first defeats on ShoBox since the series premiered in July 2001.
In 12 professional fights, Spence has shown he has the skills and ability to get to the next level, but he is now facing the toughest test of his career in Cruz, an experienced fighter coming off a hard-fought decision loss to former world champion Kermit Cintron. Spence, who is fighting in just his second scheduled 10-rounder and has not been past the eighth, has been training at Maple Avenue Boxing Gym in Dallas as he prepares for the ShoBox main event.
"This is a 10-rounder, so I’m just doing a lot more rounds of sparring now, like 10 or 12 rounds,” the 24-year-old Spence said. “I think Ronald Cruz is a good, durable boxer. He comes forward with his hands up, tries to counter a little bit. But I fight guys like that all the time, I spar guys like that all the time.
"I won’t have to look for him because he’s going to be right there in front of me. I’ll just counter off his shots and look for openings."
Cruz, 27, has stepped up his class of opposition in the last few years and is 3-3 in his last six fights. But those losses came against accomplished fighters with a combined record at the time of 80-11-3. Spence will represent the first southpaw Cruz has faced, a matchup that Cruz believes tilts in his favor.
"I actually don’t mind sparring with them,” Cruz said. “I’ve got a good trainer that has shown me all the tricks to beat a southpaw, so it’s no big deal – I actually like it better. Not only my right hand, but my left hook works better on a southpaw.
"He’s young, he’s obviously hungry and he’s on his way to being a world champion. I just feel they took this fight at the wrong time. It’s too soon, too early for him.”
A prospect at 160 pounds, the 24-year-old Wade was an accomplished amateur who had 160 bouts and faced some top names. He is also fighting in his first 10-rounder in a quintessential ShoBox fight – an extremely important fight for both boxers at this point in their career with just one loss between them.
The aggressive Wade, who has been boxing since he was nine years old, is not concerned about moving up to 10 rounds or facing the more experienced Brinson.
"I think he has a wild style, but I can get him,” said Wade, who has been training at Sugar Ray Leonard’s gym in Palmer Park, Md. “I don’t think too highly of him. He just throws those little punches in bunches, but they are all wild. I plan on keeping it short and simple.
"I’ve never fought anybody that fights like him, but I’ve been sparring guys that do the same crazy stuff and I have it down pat. I can bang and box. Mainly, I’m going to pressure you and I’m going to come. I’m going to give the people want they want to see. I keep coming.”
Like Wade, Brinson was also an accomplished amateur career with close to 90 bouts. He holds amateur victories over Errol Spence in the 2008 National Golden Gloves and defeated U.S. Olympian Shawn Estrada.
The 26-year-old Brinson is 9-0-1 in the 10 fights since his only loss in November 2010, and has not lost with his current trainer, Hector Bermudez. Brinson, who recently sparred with Peter Quillin and Edwin Rodriguez and is just one fight removed from a career-best win onShoBox on June 7, 2013 over Jorge Melendez , is also more experienced. No stranger to going the distance, Brinson has been eight rounds six times and 10 rounds twice.
"I think Dominic is a really good fighter,” Brinson said. “I think he’s very talented – he has fast hands, throws a lot of combinations and has a great amateur background. But there are a lot of things he doesn’t do that I do well. He’s the favored fighter and I don’t want to take anything from him because I want all the credit when I beat him.”
Bermudez agrees: "Dominic Wade is a hot prospect. He’s talented, but I think it’s a little too early for him to fight with Nick. I think Wade is an excellent fighter, but I think I’ve got a more experienced fighter on my hands. My guy’s boxing IQ is a little better
“We’ve got to pull out all the stops to win – but I think Nick will do well."
Editor’s note: The Marcus Browne vs. Yusef Mack match up has been cancelled due to a failed blood examination from Yusef Mack.
June 25, 2014