Is welterweight Errol Spence Jr., a 2012 U.S. Olympian and the 2015 ESPN.com prospect of the year, ready for prime time? The boxing world is about to find out.
Spence will take on former junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri in what appears to be his most daunting fight to date. They will meet in the scheduled 10-round main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on NBC in primetime on April 16 (8:30 p.m. ET) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, PBC announced Tuesday.
"Errol Spence may be the premier prospect in all of boxing," said Lou DiBella, who is promoting the card. "He will be tested by a resurgent former world champ, Chris Algieri. Chris nearly upset the apple cart for Amir Khan. He looks to stop the rise of a young star and achieve a mega fight."
In the co-feature of the tripleheader, cruiserweight titleholder Krzysztof Glowacki will make his first defense when he meets former two-time titleholder Steve Cunningham. Also, blue-chip light heavyweight prospect Marcus Browne will take on fellow unbeaten prospect Radivoje "Hot Rod" Kalajdzic in a 10-round bout.
The card is the first of six PBC cards scheduled to be on NBC in primetime this year.
Spence (19-0, 16 KOs), a 26-year-old southpaw from DeSoto, Texas, has been lauded by many as a can't-miss future world champion, including by Floyd Mayweather Jr. The fight with Algieri is a big step up in the level of Spence's competition.
"I'm excited to be back again, fighting on NBC," Spence said. "This is a huge opportunity for me, to be this young and early in my career and headlining a primetime event, just the exposure alone. Of course, I'm happy to be fighting in Brooklyn at Barclays Center. New York City is known for putting on great fights, and this is going to be a big event with a big-name fighter.
"Chris Algieri has been in the ring with Amir Khan, Manny Pacquiao and Ruslan Provodnikov, and he's a former world champ. This is a big fight for me and a step up, but I plan to rise to the occasion. I'm going to handle him like I've handled all of my past opponents."
Algieri (21-2, 8 KOs), 31, who is from Huntington, New York, and will have the home crowd behind him, won a debatable split decision against Provodnikov in June 2014 to win a junior welterweight world title, also at the Barclays Center. He never defended the belt, instead moving up in weight to challenge then-welterweight titleholder Pacquiao in Macau, China, in November 2014. Algieri got knocked down six times in a lopsided decision loss and returned to the Barclays Center last May and lost a hard-fought and competitive decision to former unified junior welterweight titlist Khan. In December, Algieri bounced back in a unanimous decision win against Erick Bone on the Daniel Jacobs-Peter Quillin undercard at the Barclays Center.
Glowacki (25-0, 16 KOs), 29, of Poland, won a 200-pound world title in dramatic upset fashion when he rallied from big deficit to knock out heavy favorite Marco Huck in the 11th round in August at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. It was a bonafide fight of the year contender, but Glowacki has not fought since due to left elbow and wrist surgery following the fight.
"I am so excited to come back to the U.S. for a major fight," Glowacki said. "I respect Steve Cunningham as a sportsman and as a man. He is a world-class fighter, and I know that he will be well prepared against me. Come April 16, I will once again honor my promise and defeat Cunningham in spectacular fashion. Polish and American fans: Be prepared for the return of Glowacki."
Cunningham (28-7-1, 13 KOs), 39, of Philadelphia, left the cruiserweight division to fight as a heavyweight in 2012, but he was always undersized for the division. In the main event of the card on which Glowacki toppled Huck, Cunningham fought to a controversial draw against Antonio Tarver (whose positive test for a banned substance came to light after the fight) and then decided to return to the cruiserweight division.
"Glowacki's war with Huck was highlight reel stuff," DiBella said. "Another barnburner can be expected when he puts his title on the line against Steve Cunningham."
Browne (17-0, 13 KOs), 25, of Staten Island, will be right at home for his fight, as he will be boxing at the Barclays Center for the 11th time, more than any other fighter.
"I'm ready to take this step up on my career," said Browne, a 2012 U.S. Olympian. "We are both putting our '0's on the line and do what I've been taught to do. This is the perfect time for this opportunity in my career, and there is no better place than to do it at Barclays Center. To be able to win and make a statement on primetime TV from Barclays Center where it all really started for me will be a turning point and I can't wait."
Kalajdzic (21-0, 14 KOs), 24, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina living in Saint Petersburg, Florida, will be facing the most notable opponent of his career.
"I am ready and excited to showcase my skills and power come April 16," Kalajdzic said. "I am happy to be part of such a huge card and to have the opportunity to fight on NBC and show the world I am one of the best 175-pounders in boxing."