FORT WORTH, Texas — The Ferrari Errol Spence Jr. rolled and cartwheeled last year cost well over $275,000. The accident also nearly cost him his life and his career, but there is good news.
“I got my money back,” he told me. “I had great insurance for it.”
The welterweight fighter from DeSoto can say this now, not with a smile, but merely as a statement of fact.
He is ready for his first fight since he flipped his white Ferrari several times in crash at 3 a.m. in south Dallas on Oct. 10, 2019. How he walked away with non-life threatening injuries makes no sense.
He was convicted of driving while intoxicated. In reviewing the video of the crash, you wonder how his boxing career — and his life — didn’t end that night.
His moral of the story is not only don’t drink and drive, but just don’t buy the car.
“Buying it wasn’t worth it,” he said. “You get a high off of it, but it just turns out to be a car after you have it for so long. It’s cool at first, you drive up and people take pictures. That’s all you really get out of it.
“It’s just metal with wheels.”
The crash has changed him. Understandably. The question is did it change him as a fighter? We won’t know until Saturday night when he faces Danny Garcia at AT&T Stadium for the welterweight title on Fox PPV.
“I think he will be a different fighter as a result of this accident. It’s going to be subconscious,” former welterweight champion Shawn Porter told me in a phone interview. Spence Jr. defeated Porter in September of 2019, not even two weeks before the accident.
“I don’t think he knows what to expect. Some things change for the better, and for the bad. I think this will change him (as a fighter) for the bad. I don’t anticipate him being the same fighter,” Porter said. “Can I put a percentage on it? With me, he was 100 percent. He will now be 80 to 85 percent against Danny Garcia.”
Boxing is built on woofers and talkers, bravado and supreme arrogance. They project invincibility.
Spence’s crash was not some fender bender. This was a you’re-lucky-to-be-alive moment that reminds people of their mortality.
Boxers usually think they are going to live forever, and certainly not die young.
Most fighters never concede anything until after their career is over, but Spence actually concedes the accident changed him.
“I do think it depends on the person, and I felt like I changed in some areas,” he said. “Physically, I am the same person. Mentally, you change a lot of things up and switch things. If you don’t change, then you’re just doing the same things over and over. So of course you change.”
At the time of the wreck, Spence Jr. was en route to becoming the best fighter of what is the most complete weight class in his sport.
He wanted to fight, and to put into retirement, Manny Pacquiao. All of the talk around Spence was of future opponents.
Now, the topic for Spence isn’t Danny Garcia, Manny, or any other fighter. The topic is the totaling of that Ferrari.
Spence was either well-prepared for these questions, or he is so laid back no query phases him.
“It’s expected because I am fighting for the first time since the accident,” he said. “Looking at the video of it, it looks so severe people are going to ask about it. I’m OK with it. I knew it was coming. It’s interesting.”
The ironic part is a Ferrari fits Spence’s personality like a kids’ small on an NFL offensive lineman.
Unlike so many other fighters who are brash and make a show of boiling an egg, Spence is so quiet and reserved you would not know he’s in the room with you.
“I live a modest life. I stay on a ranch. I pay $5,000 in property taxes,” he said. “For me, being smart is not impulse buying everything, but having different investments lined up. It’s stuff I started talking about when I was 22.”
At 29, Spence is in the prime of his career. The pre-crash Spence would have been an overwhelming favorite to beat Garcia.
Spence is still favored to win, but we just don’t know. A crash like that can create all kinds of doubt.
Ultimately, we know Spence lost a car that night, along with part of his old self. There’s no doubt he’s a changed man, and on Saturday night we’ll find out if he’s changed as a fighter as well.
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