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IBF WELTERWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT : BROOK vs SPENCE JR

This coming Saturday night the IBF welterweight title will be on the line when champion Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KO’s) faces No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger Errol Spence Jr. (21-0, 18 KO’s). The bout takes place in Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England and is set to air live here in the U.S. on Showtime at 2 p.m. PT.

 
Bookmakers here in Las Vegas opened the betting line with the challenger listed as a -140 favorite, and the take-back on the champion +120. Within a few days the price to back Spence Jr. climbed to -170, and starting the week it is as high as -225 on the Strip. After speaking to several movers, I can confirm with certainty it was sharp money forcing the books to adjust. More importantly, they all agreed the position appears to be a “real move,” rather than an attempt to secure a scalp or set-up the opposite side for late steam at a much better price.

 
Looking ahead I would be surprised to see the betting line increase much more, and it’s highly probable it drops some as recreational bettors make their way to the window both here in the U.S. and in England. Brook is undoubtedly much better known to fight fans, having participated in a handful of marquee bouts of late.

 
Although many still hang the “top prospect” tag on Spence Jr. due to a lack of top level opponents on his resume thus far, I’m confident he truly is an elite level fighter. He has a vast amateur pedigree that includes being a U.S. National Champion three times and a member of the U.S. Olympic Team. The challenger compiled a record of 135-12 before going pro, which laid a strong foundation to grow from.

 
Since turning pro, Spence Jr. has continued to add to his arsenal and increase his ring IQ. This fight with Brook is a big step up in competition but also a chance for the challenger to truly silence his critics because of the huge risk. Not only will he be fighting on foreign soil and in the champion’s back yard, but Spence is also facing his toughest opponent to date.

 
Many thought Brook wouldn’t come back down to 147 pounds after going up to 160 to fight Gennady Golovkin in his last bout. But after all of the provocation he faced to capture the IBF strap, there was no way Brook wasn’t going to try and defend it.

 
Stylistically this should be a very interesting bout and one fans could expect to see plenty of leather being thrown. Spence Jr. fights from the southpaw stance and likes to circle the ring and take up as much real estate as possible. His defense is tight although he does tend to drop his right hand too low and will need to be cautious against Brook’s left hook. Spence Jr. possesses one-punch finishing power and can do damage with both hands.

 
Brook’s reach is three inches shorter, but he should be the bigger man on fight night after rehydrating. The champion will have an edge in experience having gone more rounds as a pro and also having been on a much bigger stage.

 
My plan is to sit back and wait patiently until Saturday night, hoping enough money gets wagered on Brook to force books to lower the betting line. Then I’ll make my way to the window and back one of the sport’s brightest young stars.

 
PICK: ERROL SPENCE JR.

 
Bonus PROP Bet: DRAW at 25-1
With Brook being the home team in this contest and there being plenty of upside to run it again, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some questionable scoring if the outcome’s left in the hands of the judges.