Errol Spence taking risk in big step-up fight vs. battle-tested Algieri tonight

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The common knowledge on Errol Spence Jr. is that he is destined to be a future pound-for-pound leader in the welterweight division. Spence is 19-0 with 16 knockouts, but his professional resume leading up to tonight isn’t exactly a who’s who of the division’s best, although it has included impressive wins against good opposition in Phil Lo Greco and Samuel Vargas.

Tonight at Barclays Center, Spence is taking the ultimate step-up fight in his PBC fight against Chris Algieri, 21-2. Algieri built up a solid record, but really made a name for himself in his 2014 split decision win over power puncher Ruslan Provodnikov.

The only two blemishes on Algieri’s record are losses to Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan. The loss to Khan may have been a unanimous decision on the scorecards of the judges, but many questioned the decision, with Algieri being the aggressor and setting the pace against Khan.

Several boxers have chimed in on tonight’s PBC on NBC matchup.

As Algieri has lost his last two fights, he’s being labeled as a gatekeeper in the welterweight division, a label he is none too fond of, according to an interview he had with ESPN.

“I’m looked at as the veteran here, but I’m a young veteran,” Algieri said. “I have a ton of experience and I think that will propel me for the rest of my career. Spence hasn’t fought anyone. I don’t think he has fought a guy who has tried to win. To label me as a gatekeeper against someone who hasn’t made real fights isn’t really a fair distinction.”

Skills-wise, Spence looks like the superior fighter, but there’s no questioning Algieri’s heart and determination. If Spence or his team was looking for a step-up fighter that wouldn’t be much of a risk, they chose the wrong fighter.

The upset-minded Algieri is used to coming in as an underdog. He was looked at as the underdog against Provodnikov, and likely gave Khan a bigger challenge than expected.

In an age where top prospects are brought up slowly and handed opponents, it’s refreshing to see Spence targeting Algieri here, and Algieri willingness to fight anyone is on display again against a young , talented prospect on the brink of stardom in Spence.

On paper, this one is too close to call, but once the fight starts, we’ll see how the matchup truly plays out and which style overcomes the other.

Be sure to follow @fightscribebox on Twitter tonight as we will be providing live updates during both of PBC’s cards on NBC and later on Showtime.

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