Nothing but respect between Errol Spence Jr. and Lamont Peterson

Errol Spence Jr. and Lamont Peterson will fight at the Barclay's Center on Jan. 20, 2018. Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

There was no trash talk or cursing, no pushing or shoving and no nonsense. Welterweight world titlist Errol Spence Jr. and former titleholder Lamont Peterson, friends for several years, have no interest in such foolishness.

So when they met on Wednesday inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, for the kickoff news conference for their bout on Jan. 20 (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET), which will also take place at the busy boxing building, the two fighters and their teams were on their best behavior. Nothing but respect.

"When I look at Errol Spence, I instantly fell in love with him because he reminded me of Lamont so much," said Barry Hunter, Peterson's trainer and father figure. "They both have that dog mentality. I've always known he was a special fighter. Lamont told me when he worked with Errol (in a training camp a few years ago) that he really liked the kid. He knew he would be a world champion. I had to remind myself that this is business. We have to fight our friends."

Spence and Peterson are professional prize fighters and they act like pros. As they said, they'll be friends before the fight and friends after the fight, but when the bell rings they intend to fight as hard as they can.

"As a top fighter, you're obligated to take what comes on the table, regardless of who it is," Peterson said. "It's boxing. It's a sport and we're competitors. We want to go in there and compete to see who's the best. We're going to treat it like business like we always do."

Washington, D.C.'s Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs), who turns 34 on Jan. 24, has always been willing to fight top opponents. In fact, in order to facilitate the fight with Spence -- one of the best young talents in the sport and a guy nobody is calling out -- Peterson vacated a world title belt.

"You already know when I fight, it's a feeling out process to start, but in my head, I'm ready to go," said Peterson, who is also a former junior welterweight world titleholder. "It's going to get rough in the trenches and we'll see who wants it more. I knew six years ago when Errol was in my camp that we'd get to this point. I knew he would be a champion. For the most part, I've seen him improve and progress throughout the pro ranks and I believe he's going to keep getting better.

"I can't worry about people thinking that Errol is the next star in this sport. I believe that, but I can't worry about it. It is up to me and my team to come up with the right type of strategy and execute it."

Spence (22-0, 19 KOs) has been tabbed for stardom since Day 1. He was a 2012 U.S. Olympian, the 2015 ESPN.com prospect of the year, and when the southpaw from DeSoto, Texas, who turns 28 on Jan. 13, finally got a mandatory shot at a world title, he did not disappoint.

Spence traveled to Sheffield, England, the hometown of Kell Brook, and knocked him out in the 11th round of a very impressive performance on May 27 to win a 147-pound belt. He will be making his first defense against Peterson.

"Lamont can push me to even greater levels," Spence said. "I feel like he is a better fighter than Kell Brook and has even more heart than Kell Brook, and he can bring out the best in me."

Derrick James, Spence's trainer and a leading trainer of the year candidate, agreed with his pupil.

"We're working on making Errol a more complete fighter every time out. He'll be better than he was when you saw him against Brook," James said. "We're looking for the perfect fight. It takes a great fighter to bring out the greatness in another great fighter. These guys are high-caliber fighters and it's about as good a matchup as you can have in the division."

There are many who believe Spence will become the dominant fighter in the welterweight division and eventually work his way to the top levels of the pound-for-pound list. Peterson figures to pose a solid test for him, but Spence, with designs on unifying the division, said he refuses to look ahead.

"You're going to see the same Errol Spence that you're used to," he said. "I can't look ahead because I know how dangerous Lamont Peterson is. I've been in training camps with him and I know what he can do. I've seen too many fighters look down the road and get beat before they get to the big fight. I have to be 100 percent focused and hungry. I'm fully dedicated to this fight.

"I think it's going to start out as a boxing match, but as we go on, it's going to be a dog fight. We both have big hearts. I've never known Lamont to turn down any fight. Not a lot of people wanted to fight me. The big names shied away from me but Lamont stood up and said he'd fight me. This is going to be a hard fight.

"I think I can be known as the best pound-for-pound in the sport, but I have to take it one fight at a time. I want to be the undisputed welterweight champion. That should be everyone's ultimate goal -- to be the best fighter in the sport. But first I have a big test ahead of me Jan. 20."