This Saturday night live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence and ‘Showtime’ Shawn Porter take part in a welterweight unification bout that should jump-start other key 147 matchups in the near future. The unbeaten Spence is a clear favorite but with Porter’s rough and rugged fighting style we can’t completely count him out. The undercard will produce fireworks as well, especially the co-feature Benavidez vs. Dirrell and Lopez vs. Molina Jr.
Ever since Floyd Mayweather labeled Errol Spence Jr. the next man up to take over not only the 147-pound division but the whole sport based off a spirited sparring session, many of the top tier boxers at welterweight swerved the man they call ‘The Truth’. At the time Spence was firmly placed in the high-risk low-reward category without a belt to entice fellow PBC’ers to step up to the challenge.
For all the crap the media (thus fans) gives advisor/manager Al Haymon, his ability to develop fighters as a promoter would indicate Errol Spence was moved correctly. After developing as a prospect post-2012 Olympics, we began to see him on undercards, sometimes in a high-profile co-main slot like Porter-Broner on NBC.
In 2016, Spence got his first opportunity in a main event fight against Chris Algieri at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on NBC. Per usual, Errol took full advantage of the moment by destroying Algieri via 5th round stoppage. Manny Pacquiao had defeated Chris in the process knocking him down a bunch of times but couldn’t finish him off. After Spence made easy work of Algieri, his next outing came on NBC versus Leonard Bundu.
Bundu had previously gone the distance with a then heavy puncher Keith Thurman. Through the PBC’s time buys with NBC, Al struck a deal for the fight to follow the Gold Medal USA basketball game and ceremonies. The lead in helped the broadcast average 4.8 million and peaking all the way up over 6 million, making it the most watch boxing event since Oscar De La Hoya was on FOX in the late 90s.
Spence once again delivered, landing a concussive left uppercut and right hook, sending Bundu halfway through the ropes. The victory put Errol in line for a mandatory shot at Kell Brook’s IBF title. Unfortunately Brook’s injury delayed the fight until the next year in May 2016.
Errol got his first championship strap in a very respectable way by having to go to Sheffield, England to take on Brook in front of nearly 30,000 fans. The layoff in between fights was telling as Spence looked out of sorts a bit in the early going. Once the Desoto, Texas native shook the rust off, he really turned the heat up on the hometown fighter. Spence would go on to technically stop Kell Brook in the 10th round, bringing the IBF title back home to Texas.
Two fights, one back at the Barclays and one at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility, led him to his first ever PPV against then unbeaten Mikey Garcia. The fight itself was a one-sided affair that Spence showed some skills he hadn’t on the outside. After thoroughly outclassing Mikey, Errol went into attack mode, throwing over 100 punches per round in the final 4 frames. To his credit somehow Garcia didn’t get stopped, able to defend himself just enough to not get knocked out clean or even go down from one of the many vicious body shots.
The fight was a dud in the way of closeness but the event superseded expectations both on PPV and drew almost 48,000 fans to the AT&T Dallas Cowboys Stadium, only miles away from where Spence grew up. This Saturday night, for the first time, Errol is fighting in Los Angeles as a headliner at Staples Center with FOX PPV marketing behind him.
His opponent is Shawn Porter, a boxer that everyone really likes until the bell rings. Beyond his last fight with Yordenis Ugas, Porter is a balls-to-the-walls pedal-to-the-metal bruiser. He loves to not only get up close and personal with his enemy in the ring, but Porter will stay there. All night long Porter will be in his opponent’s face both figuratively and literally, raining elbows, headbutts, and punches. The problem for Porter he smothers his own punches in route to making his prey uncomfortable.
As far as the top-levels of the weight class, Porter has faced Keith Thurman, Kell Brook, and Danny Garcia, along with a few decent contender level guys at 147. He lost to Kell Brook and barely lost to Keith Thurman. Shawn’s victory over Danny Garcia was impressive because he was able to switch up his style, boxing in the early part and changing game plans back to the pit bull in the second half of the fight.
Real estate is everything in this unification welterweight bout with Porter needing to get as close as possible and Spence’s needing the distance to attempt to break down Shawn. Both men have solid jabs and the first few rounds will be won by whoever applies a jab more effectively. Porter is at his best, not only as a rough and tumble mauler, but when he uses his quick up-jab to get inside. The problem for Shawn is Spence has a great jab and he’s consistently imploring it at range while walking an opponent down.
The betting odds tilt heavy in favor of Spence and most experts assume Errol wins at least 8-9 rounds. However, that doesn’t equate to a comfortable stroll on a Southern California beach. Spence will win more rounds, but the back and forth within the rounds will make for an all-action scrap. Porter may lose cleanly or even get hurt enough to be stopped, but make no mistake about it, Errol will have to earn his way to a tough yet decisive victory.
The ‘Truth’ of the matter is this fight comes down to anything Porter can do Spence can do better. Be it in the form of a win on the cards or late stoppage. As long as Spence doesn’t allow the pressure to make a major statement and get in to his head, this hack-of-a-scribe believes Errol will beat Porter in grand fashion to separate himself further in the PBC 147 stable.
This great style matchup on the co-feature matches youth and flashy combo punches in David Benavidez against a crafty-vet in Anthony Dirrell. Back in February at the Minneapolis Armory on FS1, Dirrell won a vacant WBC belt by way of decision over Avni Yildirim from a fight that was halted due to a cut. The same WBC belt that Benavidez was forced to vacate after testing positive for cocaine. Benavidez swears up and down that he’s isn’t a regular user and instead made a poor decision to snort coke as a celebration on a random night out.
Dirrell is old yes but ‘The Dog’ still has something left in the tank for one last great performance. Look for Anthony to use his decent jab while pivoting out of corners as he attempts to measure David for counter punches. The overly excitable Benavidez might come out too hot and heavy so this podcaster won’t be shocked to see a close fight on the cards after say 4-6 rounds. Age, punch activity and accuracy from Benavidez will eventually take over the action. Dirrell will show some toughness, (unless fouled) but at the end of the day David will overwhelm Anthony. This will be a great tussle to top off an interesting undercard setting the stage for the main attraction.
Side Note: FOX PPV undercard between Josesito Lopez and John Molina Jr. is a can’t miss action fight so don’t be surprised if it steals the show as the most competitive bout of the night. Also, Mario Barrios vs. Batr Akhmedov fills out the rest of the PPV card.
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