Wednesday, January 26, 2022 Jan 26, 2022
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How I Became Boxer Errol Spence Jr.’s Cornerwoman

The profile story in our May issue almost didn’t happen. I had to go head-to-head with Tim Rogers to get it in the magazine.
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Errol Spence Jr., photographed here in his former gym, the R&R Boxing Club in Northwest Dallas. (Photo by Elizabeth Lavin)

The story of Errol Spence Jr., which took a circuitous path to get to me, became the biggest fight of my time at D. It all started when a sports writer from New Jersey, Joe DePaolo, pitched a feature to Zac that then went to Peter who sent the pitch to Tim who forwarded the email chain to me. My main area of focus is known as the “front of book,” the punchy one-pagers with bite-size pieces. Usually, I’m more than happy to snap up good stories, but once I read about Spence—an undefeated DeSoto boxer who is poised to become one of the greatest fighters of all time—I couldn’t stop. This wasn’t bite-size material. This was a feast.

Now, let me back up for a moment. Before Kathy Wise and I were added to the D masthead a year ago, the editorial staff, a.k.a. Tim Rogers and Zac Crain, had developed a reputation as a Boy’s Club. So us ladies were perceived as adding the proverbial floral accents to the D Mag bachelor pad. Which is in part why Tim was particularly surprised when I contended that we run a larger story on Errol Spence Jr. in the feature well. “I can’t believe we hired a woman and she’s fighting to get sports in the magazine,” Tim said, more than once.

Tim’s main argument was simple: we’re not a sports magazine, so we don’t run sports stories. My argument was more complex. It was true: I’ve never cared for any sports with the exception of the few years I spent in San Antonio during the Spurs’ Ginobli-Duncan-Parker heyday (don’t @ me, Zac), but this wasn’t a sports story—this was a boxing story. Boxing stories transcend. For one, you don’t have to explain the rules as you would need to for, say, a story on curling (what the heck is with those brooms?). It’s punching. Everyone gets the gist. But mostly, I argued, it’s universally romantic, which probably has a lot to do with Rocky. “Boxing is the sexiest sport,” I said, more than once.

The North Dallas boxing gym that has no air conditioning, the trainer who worked alongside Floyd Mayweather in his fighting days, the young boxer who hardly spoke a word for several years, the fact that his fight with current welterweight titleholder Kell Brooks will (and I don’t believe this is an exaggeration) make or break the young fighter’s career. What’s not to love?

I eventually got my way, because, even though Tim packed a good “no sports stories” blow, I had the stamina to annoy the hell out of the Boy’s Club for more than six months until they finally gave in. I also had a secret weapon: Kathy Wise manages the magazine’s run sheets, and she was in my corner.

So give the story a read here or in D Magazine’s May issue, on stands now. Follow Spence IRL here. And then on May 27, tune in to Showtime to watch him become the best fighter in the world.

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