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Spence puts IBF welterweight belt on line against Peterson

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New York (AFP)

Unbeaten International Boxing Federation champion Errol Spence takes on fellow American Lamont Peterson in New York on Saturday with designs on a unified welterweight world title.

"There are so many guys in the welterweight division, I want to clean them all out," said Spence, who seized the IBF belt in May when he stopped Britain's Kell Brook in the 11th round in Sheffield, England.

The 27-year-old southpaw took his record to 22-0 with 19 knockouts and fueled talk of meetings with the other welterweight world champs -- Australia's Jeff Horn and American Keith Thurman.

While it's not a unification bout, Spence is taking former two-division world champion Peterson seriously.

"I"m not going to wait around for unification fights," Spence said. "I want to fight three times this year and I'll take on the best opponent who steps into the ring.

"I know he's going to be difficult. He's a guy with fast feet who can come forward. He can basically do it all. I"m going to have to solve the puzzle."

Peterson brings a record of 35-3 with one drawn and 17 knockouts to the bout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Since dropping a majority decision to Danny Garcia in 2015 Peterson has won two straight. And he says he'll be ready to take it to Spence, a fighter he once mentored as a sparring partner in Spence's amateur days.

"Errol Spence is clearly a great fighter," Peterson said. "I can see why people revere him but on Saturday we're going to give him a fight and he's going to have to prove it.

"My mentality is to win."

On the same card, unbeaten Robert Easter Jr defends his IBF lightweight world title against Dominican southpaw Javier Fortuna.

Easter, 26, claimed a vacant world title when he survived a knockdown en route to a split decision victory over Richard Commey in September of 2016. Since then he's made two successful title defenses -- with unanimous decisions over Luis Cruz in February and Denis Shafikov in June to take his record to 20-0 with 14 wins inside the distance.

"The fans can expect to see what they always see in my fights -- it's going to be hard work, blood sweat and tears," Easter vowed. "We are going to have a knockout victory in this fight."

When a potential unification bout with Mikey Garcia fell through, with Garcia stepping up in weight to challenge Sergey Lipinets, Easter opted to take on the hard-punching Fortuna, who boasts a record of 33-1-1 with 23 knockouts.

"I've fought big punchers before," Easter said. "This is nothing new to me. We're going to make adjustments during the fight and get him out of there early."

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