LOS ANGELES, Calif. September 26, 2019 – IBF welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. of Dallas (25-0, 21 KOs) must be weary of hearing he’s the next big star in the glamorous welterweight division. In his mind, he’s already there. All he needs is the opportunity to show it.
Saturday’s bout with WBC welterweight world champion “Showtime” Shawn Porter of Las Vegas (30-2-1, 17 KOs) gives Spence Jr. a golden opportunity to fulfill the expectations of boxing observers as the sport’s marquee star. He’s a likable homegrown American star and fan-friendly in his soft-spoken way, relying on his performances to speak for him.
The 31-year-old Porter is never at a loss for words, getting plenty of practice between fights as a color commentator for Premier Boxing Champion broadcasts. Since the bout was announced in July at the Pacquiao vs. Thurman event, Porter’s had plenty to say to Spence Jr.
Ridin’ dirty in the welterweight division
The pair got into it at this week’s final pre-fight news conference. Whether it was mainly for the benefit of the Fox Sports 1 audience watching to sell the pay-per-view or not, both made themselves clear.
“Nothing over here is fake,” declared Porter. “I expected it to get heated today,” said Porter. “I know that if I fire at Errol, he’s going to fire back. That’s how the fights are going to be as well. Everyone got a good taste of what you’ll see Saturday.”
When Spence called Porter a dirty fighter, Porter snapped back, “I’m not a dirty boxer.
I’m aggressive and I’m strong, and guys can’t handle it. There are things that happen in the ring and you just have to move with it. I’m always prepared to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Whether that’s misconstrued, you can’t take away what I’ve done … You don’t get that far being a dirty fighter.”
In his deceptively laid-back way, Spence Jr. called Porter “an in-shape street fighter. You fight like you’re going to drown, and don’t know how to swim.”
Spence Jr. agreed on one thing with Porter: “Whatever it takes to win.”
“I will be unified champion of the world,” said Spence Jr. “I know Shawn comes to fight. I embrace that. I can’t wait because I promise this is going to be one for the history books. I just have to do what I’ve been doing. I don’t care about the rounds as long as it doesn’t go 12,” said Spence Jr.
Spence Jr. said scoring a knockout win over Porter is his goal, but if not he’ll be comfortable with the victory either way. A win puts him in position to fight eight-division champion and WBA world champion Manny Pacquiao, or WBO world champion Terence Crawford.
Spence vs. Porter = skills vs. punishment
Porter needs the win worse than Spence Jr. in many ways. At 31 years old and counting, a third loss on his record puts a top fight out of reach. Without a title in hand, the risk to reward ratio for Pacquiao or Crawford isn’t worth it. If he isn’t coming into this fight wiling to do whatever it takes to win, he needs a quick attitude adjustment.
Porter got plenty of heat for his technical approach in his last fight against Yordenis Ugas, a narrow decision win. Spence Jr. can blast Porter for a street fighting style, but it’s in Porter’s best interests to pressure Spence Jr. and make things as rough and tumble as possible. Porter has a much better chance to win an ugly fight than an elegant fight.
Spence Jr. has admitted in the past he could improve his defensive skills. But he’s aware Porter could turn the fight into a brawl, and says he’ll be ready if he does.
READ MORE: Mikey Garcia learns the truth about Errol Spence Jr.
Spence Jr. dominated the proficient Mikey Garcia in his last fight, but toss that result out the window. Garcia jumped up too far in weight to take on someone as skilled as Spence Jr. But take note that Spence Jr. didn’t stop Garcia, or even score a knockdown. Did he not feel the need to work that hard, or was he unable to make it happen?
Porter shouldn’t be offended being called a street fighter. Instead, he should embrace it. Plenty of champions have used this as a winning formula. Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Julio Caesar Chavez Sr., and Sugar Ray Leonard were never afraid to get rough. But you need a good chin to go with it. Porter has never been stopped. His single knockdown was in the 12th round of a dominating win over Adrien Broner in 2015. Bravo to Spence Jr. for stating his ambitions to be the first, but it’s a tall order.
Spence Jr. needs to keep his temptations in check, and take Porter’s best weapons away from him by making it another Ugas fight. Spence Jr.’s fundamental boxing skills and mobility can allow him to win if he keeps Porter at arm’s length. Whether fans love it or not, Spence Jr. has to decide whether a loss would hurt more. We all know the answer to that: True.
Prediction: Shawn Porter continues the Year of the Upset
Fans WILL get to see all 12 scheduled rounds of this fight. Neither man is going to knock out the other.
Porter does have the potential for a decision win, but he’ll need to win his rounds convincingly. Anything close is going to Spence Jr. He knows how to get the nod from the judges and his punches are easier to see and score. He is faster, and speed kills in boxing.
Porter must prevent Spence Jr. from finding a comfortable distance. If he does, he can stay there all night. Crowding, leaning, pressure – these are all valuable tools for Porter. He needs to execute this game plan to perfection to win. Spence Jr. can make a few mistakes, adjust, and still pull off a win. Let’s see how hard Porter makes him work for it.
Porter’s loss against Keith Thurman was razor-thin; Thurman got the benefit of the doubt from the judges in the same way Spence Jr. is likely to be treated on Saturday. One of the same judges from the Thurman fight will judge Saturday’s fight – Steve Weisfeld. The other judges are Larry Hazzard Jr.. who doesn’t work outside the East Coast too often; and Rey Danesco, a native of the Philippines based in California. This will be Danesco’s most visible assignment to date.
What Spence Jr. must avoid is letting Porter win the early rounds. He is a notoriously slow starter. In most of his fights, he’s got that luxury. He shouldn’t let that happen on Saturday.
If I was going to put my hard-earned money down (and I’m not), it’s hard to bet against Spence Jr. coming out with a narrow win. But it’s been the year of the upset in boxing, and if Porter is finally going to score a victory as an underdog, now is his time. I’m calling it a narrow majority decision for Shawn Porter.
Whoever prevails, if an entertaining and close fight sets up a rematch, it’s a win for everyone.
The card begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT with three undercard bouts before the Spence Jr. vs. Porter main event. In the co-main, WBC Super Middleweight World Champion Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell faces unbeaten former champion David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez. Unbeaten contenders Mario “El Azteca” Barrios and Batyr Akhmedov fight for the WBA Super Lightweight title. Southern California veterans Josesito “Riverside Rocky” Lopez and John Molina Jr. are scheduled for a ten-round welterweight fight.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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