Posted on 07/12/2021
Errol Spence Jr. arrives for Sunday’s press conference poised and focused on the day’s press activities. It is the first time the Unified champion and 8-division world champion Manny Pacquiao will appear together to promote their August super fight.
Throughout his boxing journey, he’s succeeding where others have found difficult. Flanked by a harmonious team and strong support system, he maintains the same zen-like calm he’s known for. An inner peace that’s fueled by family, farm animals, and a desire to be an all-time great.
Now his full attention turns toward the fight he’s been pursuing since 2019. An opportunity against Manny Pacquiao, a guaranteed first-ballot Hall-of-Famer who will be remembered as an all-time great, no matter the outcome.
Once the press conference was complete, Errol Spence Jr. chatted with BoxingInsider.com beyond the usual camp and strategy questions. The WBC and IBF unified champion explain how he keeps his training harmonious, Pacquiao’s best wins, why farm life works for him and what he’s learned from his cadre of animals.
BI: Earlier, you were speaking about your father and trainers and how you navigate that. How have you been able to navigate those relationships so well during your career?
ESJ: I feel like a lot of fathers try to take the coach position, and the coach pushes back. For me, I make sure they’re separated. My father might tell me some stuff, and I take what I think is good. My coach might tell me some things I think is good, and if I don’t [think it’s good], I don’t do anything with it. It’s just two separate entities telling me two separate things.
BI: Earlier, I asked you about some of Pacquiao’s best wins. What is a great win for you? A lot of fighters when fights, but what’s a great win, in your opinion?
ESJ: I like to see the execution. I would say a great win for me is Bernard Hopkins versus Tito Trinidad. That was a great win for me.
He basically defeated a country. A lot of people would say that Trinidad was the favorite. Bernard came around and did his thing, perfected his strategy and beat him, and outpointed him.
BI: You look at Barnard, who fought into his 40’s. You’re about to fight a man in his 40’s. Is that a path that you envision for yourself? Do you want that type of trajectory where you are still a killer at 40? Or do you have a cut-off point?
ESJ: If I’m still beating young guys up, yeah, I’ll fight. I think if there comes a time if I get in the ring and somebody is beating me up, that’s not supposed to be beating me up, or I can’t get out of the way of punches, I’m going to retire.
I’m always smart with my finances and stuff like that so I can get out of the sport when I need to. So as long as I keep winning or it’s a close loss to somebody you could lose to, that’s acceptable, but if I’m losing to someone, I have no business losing to, or I get beaten up in sparring, it’s time to hang it up.
BI: This [the fight against Pacquiao] is a big fight. Lots of big fights don’t happen for whatever reason, even when fighters have the same management. Everyone thinks they know the business of boxing whether they work in it or not. What is the key to making a big fight that the outside doesn’t know?
ESJ: You have to know there’s definitely a lot of politics in boxing. A lot of tug of wars going on and things like that.
The easiest fights to get made are the fights in the same circle. That’s why Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Ugas, Pacquiao, everybody’s mixing it up because everybody’s under the same umbrella.
A lot of guys are not going out. You might get some guys like Matchroom that might be with Top Rank on the business side. It shouldn’t be like that, but there’s a lot of politics in boxing stopping big fights from happening.
BI: When fighters reach your level, some feel like they have to change their whole persona. You’ve maintained your same level-headed personality your entire career. Why has that formula worked for you?
ESJ: It is my mentality. I don’t get caught up in the hype at all. I’m the type of person that after a fight, my whole plan is to disappear. After this fight is over, I’m going unseen for two or three months.
House time, I’m with my kids, and I’m chilling, and I’m not trying to be bothered. I don’t care to be on camera, and I don’t even care to have my name mentioned. When the job calls, it’s time to do it. I’m not trying to be at the forefront of everything.
BI: With that chilling, you have children, farm life, and animals. You have horses. They seem to have brought you to a different level of peace and Zen. How do they help you? What can we learn from animals?
ESJ: One thing, it definitely gives me a lot to do. It keeps me busy, and horses give you peace of mind. I didn’t start riding horses until after my accident.
I moved outside the city lines, the outskirts and got a ranch and didn’t know anything about it. But I learned on the job, got cows and stuff like that. Horses are majestic a little bit. And you can learn a lot from them, especially patience. Something that big and that strong, you have to have patience. They can get spooked real fast and kick or anything.
BI: What was that first time riding a horse like? You are an athlete. Did you jump on the horse fearlessly?
ESJ: I was fearless, but I was still cautious. I jumped on a good, trained horse, so he didn’t do anything. He had a great temperament and stuff like that. But what yeah, I was kind of fearless because, you know, I’m an adventurous person, but it was different from what I used to because I first I was like, I wouldn’t even touch a horse or cow.
BI: Lastly, fans, in general, have a lot of respect for you. There are many factions on social media and fandom, but fans universally enjoy you, no matter who their affiliations. What do you say to those fans?
ESJ: I appreciate everybody’s support. I appreciate everybody letting me have my peace sometimes. I think a lot of people don’t understand I’m a kind of introverted person. So, I need my space.
And then now and then but, you know, I do like when it’s fight time, you know, I do, do I need to be done and do my interviews and stuff like that, but I enjoy my peace of mind. But I appreciate everybody staying with me and supporting me. It’s a great time, and I’m enjoying myself while I’m young and on top.
Manny Pacquiao vs Errol Spence Jr. takes place Saturday, August 21 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. For the full interview, please visit BoxingInsider’s YouTube Channel.