In 1950s Air Force parlance, a pilot who crashed and died was said to have ‘bought the farm.’
The euphemistic saying could also be applied to boxing sensation Errol Spence Jr. were it not for two things: He miraculously survived his horrifying single-car crash in 2019, and instead of a farm, he technically bought a ranch.
‘A ranch has livestock and [you’re] raising animals – a farm is more like you have a green house or crops, and things like that,’ Spence told DailyMail.com, clarifying the distinction between the two.
The novice rancher and undefeated welterweight champion will face WBA title-holder Yordenis Ugas in a unification bout on Showtime pay-per-view this Saturday from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – just his second fight in the 30 months since he nearly killed himself by rolling his $300,000 Ferrari over a median.
Much of that time has been spent on his 60-acre Texas ranch with his new Ferrari, a horse ironically named for the Italian sports car he totaled.
The property has served as unexpected therapy for a city guy who was born on Long Island and raised in the Dallas suburbs without any notion of country life. Now the 32-year-old is raising horses, cattle, and chickens along with his 17-month-old son, Errol III, and six-year-old twin daughters, Ivy and Violet.
‘It didn’t start out with me wanting a ranch,’ he said. ‘It was more about trying to find some peace of mind, away from the city life, away from people. I just wanted a big property so I can go outside with my kids and play and not be bothered. It just so happened that I found this ranch on Zillow.’
And it’s not just therapy for Spence, who admitted to having some post-traumatic stress since his wreck. The rigors of ranching have also helped him mature, albeit incrementally,
‘I still have some ways to go,’ he laughed. ‘It’s still tug of war a little bit.’
Errol Spence Jr., the undefeated IBF and WBC welterweight champion, has picked up a second trade as a novice rancher
Spence doesn’t remember the 2019 crash, but has many haunting keepsakes, including this photo of his facial lacerations
(Left) Spence’s twin daughters, Ivy and Violet . (Right) Spence washing his new Ferrari, a horse named for the car he wrecked
Undefeated boxing champion Errol Spence Jr. spends some time with the kids on his 60-acre ranch outside Dallas
Undefeated IBF and WBC welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (left) will fight WBA title-holder Yordenis Ugas (right) in a unification bout on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – the home of the Dallas Cowboys
It was October of 2019 when he met with friends in the Dallas area for some drinks and late-night tacos before his harrowing near-death experience on his drive home. Spence, who wasn’t wearing his seatbelt in the wreck, was ejected from his convertible and consequently suffered a fractured jaw, a concussion, facial lacerations and some chipped teeth.
Somehow he avoided any broken bones or other internal injuries.
‘I can’t really remember anything about it,’ said Spence, who was the only person injured. ‘I just know what people tell me… I was at [a gas station] eating tacos out of my car, talking with my friends, things like that.’
There are haunting keepsakes to fill in the gaps of his memory from that night.
For instance, post-crash photographs show his bloodied face during his six-day stint at a Dallas hospital. Then there’s surveillance footage of the crash, showing his white convertible spinning and flipping end over end after veering into a median.
There’s even post-wreck security video in which witnesses drive through the rubble, leaving the injured Spence lying on the pavement, not to mention the lingering impact on his psyche.
‘It definitely was traumatic,’ said Spence, who admittedly struggled to get behind the wheel again. ‘It was kind of like PTSD because I was having thoughts while I was driving, like somebody hitting me and getting in a crash.’
Spence’s criminal record was also scarred. He was charged with DWI, but ultimately avoided prison time and was instead sentenced to probation.
#BREAKING Exclusive video from a nearby security camera shows the crash that injured Championship Boxer Errol Spence Jr when he lost control of his Ferrari and it rolled multiple times ejecting him. Fortunately he survived and expected to be ok pic.twitter.com/2Z1xh9DDiA
— J.D. Miles (@jdmiles11) October 10, 2019
Spence was driving ‘at a high rate of speed’ before his 2019 wreck, according to police. He was later charged with DWI
He knows things could have been much worse.
Spence is familiar with now-former Las Vegas Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III, who crashed his sports car into another vehicle at 120mph last November, killing 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her dog, while injuring his girlfriend and himself. The team promptly cut Ruggs, who was later charged with driving under the influence resulting in death and reckless driving.
Now Ruggs, a new father himself, awaits trial and faces more than 20 years in prison.
Spence pictured after beating England’ Kell Brook in 2017
‘I think it’s a travesty and a shame for someone to lose a life — hers and her little dog,’ he said. ‘I think he just had a newborn kid too. That baby got to deal with it too. It’s just shame.’
Although police said that Spence was also driving ‘at a high rate of speed,’ the IBF and WBC welterweight champion is quick to make a distinction between his crash and Ruggs’.
‘I wasn’t driving that fast,’ Spence said.
Regardless of his speed, the crash has served as a lesson for Spence, who readily admits he needed to change the way he was living.
Focus wasn’t an issue, at least not when he was training. The problem for Spence was the months in between fights, when he admittedly let boredom get the better of him.
His 2019 crash was just weeks after his thrilling split-decision win over Shawn Porter. So not only did he have another seven-figure fight purse in the bank, but there wasn’t anything on the horizon, professionally. Terence Crawford, the WBO welterweight champion and Spence’s logical next opponent, was booked for a fight that December, so staying busy wasn’t really a priority.
‘With money, you got too much time on your hands and you really don’t know what to do with it because your life is basically boxing,’ Spence said. ‘When you’re not fighting four or five months, you don’t want to train for four or five months, so you get bored.
‘They say the idle mind is the devil’s playground.’
Former Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (center) was rebuked by a Las Vegas judge for missing a court-ordered alcohol test, but was allowed to remain on house arrest with a continuous alcohol monitor on one ankle and a GPS monitor on the other following a fatal crash he’s accused of causing by driving drunk
Police and prosecutors say Ruggs (left) and his girlfriend, Kiara Je’nai Kilgo-Washington, were injured in the pre-dawn November 2 crash, when Ruggs’ Chevrolet Corvette slammed into the rear of a Toyota Rav4 that caught fire. Tina Tintor (right) died in the Toyota, along with her dog
Toyota RAV4 at left and a Chevrolet Corvette that were involved in a fatal accident are shown on November 2, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Corvette was being driven by wide receiver Henry Ruggs III of the NFL Las Vegas Raiders when it hit the RAV4, killing 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her dog
Spence’s mind is far from idle now.
He’s primarily concerned with horses — a fixation that began when an equine-obsessed friend convinced him to do some riding.
Spence’s twins Ivy and Violet take a horse for a walk
‘He’s been trying to get me into horses for awhile now, but that ain’t how I grew up, so I wasn’t open to it,’ Spence said. ‘But when I rode his horse, I just fell in love with it. Then I started reading up on horses and I started seeing that some people use it for therapeutic use. It just became that.’
Within a year, Spence was attending equine auctions in Texas as his own stable grew to four horses. Now Spence has added cows and chickens, which are a particular point of pride.
‘My eggs taste way better,’ Spence said in his Texas drawl. ‘I guess because they’re mine.’
He hasn’t given in to the temptation to let the eggs go unrefrigerated, although he knows he can, since they are farm fresh and are naturally coated in a protective coating known as a ‘bloom’ or ‘cuticle.’
‘My nutritionist just told me that,’ Spence said. ‘But I’m conditioned to [put them in the fridge].’
His new project is the installation of a pond. The digging is complete, but the basin doesn’t hold water. Now he’s obsessively learning how to compound the dirt around the rim so he can avoid having to install a costly plastic lining.
But what makes the ranch special to Spence isn’t the land itself or the animals, but the time he’s spending with his children.
‘It’s great sharing the experience with the kids because I get to teach them responsibility and caring for things and showing compassion — just being outside playing, being kids and not just sitting in the house watching TV all day,’ Spence said. ‘Get to show them how to take care of animals, chickens, things like that, feeding them every morning.’
Now Spence has added cows and chickens, which are a particular point of pride. ‘My eggs taste way better,’ Spence said in his Texas drawl. ‘I guess because they’re mine.’ He hasn’t given in to the temptation to let the eggs go unrefrigerated, although he knows he can, since they are farm fresh and are naturally coated in a protective coating known as a ‘bloom’ or ‘cuticle.’ ‘My nutritionist just told me that,’ Spence said. ‘But I’m conditioned to [put them in the fridge]’
Spence successfully defended his WBC and IBF welterweight titles against Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia in December 2020
Post-crash life hasn’t been all horses and chickens for Spence.
He successfully defended his WBC and IBF welterweight titles against Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia, putting him in position for a major payday against boxing legend and then-WBA champ Manny Pacquiao in May of 2021.
However, as a possible consequence of the crash, Spence suffered a detached retina during training and was forced to withdraw from the once-in-a-lifetime chance to fight the future Hall of Famer.
‘Stuff happens for a reason,’ said Spence, who had successful surgery to repair his eye. ‘I don’t know why. It might not have been because of me. Coulda been God saving [Pacquiao].’
Ugas, a Cuban defector and Olympic bronze medalist, stepped in to replace Spence and pulled off the upset with a unanimous decision victory in what turned out to be Pacquiao’s last bout. And in doing so, Ugas not only claimed the WBA crown, but forced Saturday’s main event with Spence.
As a possible consequence of the crash, Spence (pictured) suffered a detached retina during training for his fight against Pacquiao and was forced to withdraw
Now Spence is once again in a position to capture the WBA title, which would give him three of the division’s four major crowns. The last of the quartet still belongs to Crawford, considered by many to be among the best boxers, pound for pound, in the world.
A potential Spence-Crawford battle has been on every boxing fan’s wish list since Spence knocked out Kell Brook in his native Sheffield, England for the IBF title in 2017. Both Spence and Crawford have bickered publicly through intermittent negotiations, each accusing the other of ducking them, but have yet to finalize a deal.
‘I don’t know why it’s taken so long,’ Spence said. ‘I definitely think it’s bound to happen, and I think it will happen at the right time. We’re fighting for all the marbles.
‘I have three belts, he has one belt,’ Spence continued, subtly counting Ugas’s WBA title as his own. ‘This would be a huge fight: you got two of the top fighters in the world fighting for all the belts. It don’t get any bigger than that.’
But before Spence can think about Crawford, he has to face Ugas. And even with a 28th consecutive win on Saturday night, Spence will once again be faced his old nemesis: the months of boredom between fights.
This time, though, Spence is better prepared for his downtime. He’s already planning a trip to Disney World for the family, and when that ends, he has his ranch and his new routine.
‘Warning comes before destruction,’ he said of his 2019 wreck. ‘You got to see the warnings and the signs and you can’t be doing the same things over and over and over. To me, you got to do something different or keep doing the same thing and you get the same results.’
Terence Crawford reacts after defeating Shawn Porter by TKO in a welterweight title boxing match Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Las Vegas. If Spence beats Ugas on Saturday, the two undefeated welterweights could meet in a unification bout