SAN DIEGO, Calif. January 20, 2018 – Thank goodness Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. was a little rusty after an eight month break since his last fight.
Working behind a vicious body attack, Spence. Jr. (24-0, 20 KOs), put on an impressive display of boxing skills while systematically taking apart former two-time champion Lamont Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KOs), in front of 12,107 fans at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, winning with an eighth-round TKO when trainer Barry Hunter stopped the fight.
Peterson is a tough, determined fighter, but at age 33 time has not been his friend. Spence is a patient, methodical fighter with power, a diverse array of punches, and excellent footwork. He simply picked Peterson apart, minute by minute.
Spence knocked Peterson down with a left hook to the body with a minute gone in the fifth round. Peterson used his veteran’s experience to gather his wits and he hung in there. But he could not slow Spence down, and after the knockdown, the Texas native had the victory in his gunsights.
Peterson wasn’t completely defenseless. He hit Spence several times with hard right hands. Spence Jr. walked right through them all.
Peterson’s rugged constitution and sheer determination was keeping him on his feet, but the outcome was clear. After the seventh round, trainer Barry Hunter discussed stopping the fight with Peterson. “You know me. If you need to make the call, make the call,” Peterson said to Hunter.
Hunter, who brought a homeless 10-year-old Peterson into his home and who is just as much his father as his trainer, struggled with the decision, but as the bell rang for the eighth round, he did the right thing by his athlete and stopped the bout.
Spence thanked Peterson for taking the fight. “A lot of guys turned down the fight. He took it like a real warrior, a real fighter. I want to commend him.”
Spence credited trainer Derrick James with the game plan, and he just followed through. “He told me to keep my distance, use my jab, keep my range and keep my composure if he tried to bring it on.”
Peterson said Spence was getting his punches off quickly and keep him off with his jab. “I knew that was going to be the case. I was looking to get inside and start working, but he was the better man tonight.”
Peterson didn’t question the decision of Hunter to stop the fight. “I will always respect his decision, that’s what I told him. If he told me to go out and fight a million people, I would fight them. If he’s says that’s it, that’s it,” said Peterson.
Hunter admitted it was really hard for him. “If you know Lamont, you know his heart, you know his courage. Soldiers usually die on the battlefield sometime. I had to step up, because at the end of the day, this is my son. I don’t care nothing about boxing more than I care about him.” Peterson said he would have to consider retirement, and he would think about it in the weeks ahead.
As for Spence Jr., his plans are clear. “Everybody knows I’m waiting on “Sometime” Thurman. Since I’ve been 15 and 0, I keep calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses after excuses … Let’s fight. I’m waiting on him, let’s get it on man.” Spence Jr. will have to be patient a little longer. Any Spence Jr. vs. Keith Thurman showdown to determine welterweight supremacy won’t happen until 2019. Thurman has the upper hand. Spence could drop his IBF title, and try to position himself as a mandatory challenger by the WBA or WBC to try and force the issue, but the matchup would still be far from assured. Despite claiming otherwise on social media after the bout, Thurman will avoid Spence Jr. as long as he can.
In the meantime, Spence says he can still “improve a lot” in his defensive skills and in other ways. “I gotta keep perfecting my skills, work in the gym, keep learning. You’re going to see a better Errol Spence each time I step in the ring.” Have mercy on his competitors.
Robert Easter Jr. (20-0, 14 KOs) is lucky to be going back home to Toledo, Ohio with his IBF World Lightweight title. Easter Jr. (21-0, 14 KOs) won a hotly disputed split decision over Javier Fortuna (33-2-1, 23 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. Scores were 115-112 and 114-113 for Easter Jr., and 114-113 on the third card for Fortuna. The title wasn’t on the line when Fortuna failed to make the 135 pound weight limit on Friday. Fortuna still could have ruined Easter Jr.’s perfect record and reputation, and he nearly did.
Easter Jr. got an assist from referee Ricky Gonzalez, who took a point away from Fortuna in the second round for holding and hitting. This is awfully early in any fight, and it didn’t appear Fortuna was doing anything that egregious. If not for this, the fight would have bee a draw, a fair result.
Nevertheless, Fortuna kept the fight competitive throughout and was ahead on many media scorecards. He was smart to make the fight messy and keep it on the inside to negate Easter Jr.’s six inch height advantage. Fortuna demonstrated excellent counterpunching skills and caught Easter Jr. with several hard shots as Easter Jr. was winding up to land his left hook.
Easter Jr. should have used his jab far more and kept busier than he did. When he could land his left hook to the body or head, he was effective. Otherwise, it was Fortuna’s fight. The pair landed nearly the same number of total punches, with a slight edge to Easter Jr. (130 to 120), with almost no jabs at all.
“Javier is a two-time world former world champion, he made it tough,” said Easter Jr. after the bout. As fans in the Barclay Center booed, Easter Jr. said, “The fans are booing because I didn’t get the knockout, they expected me to get the knockout. I’m sorry to my fans, but I got the W, that’s all the matters.”
Easter Jr. went on to say he wants to unify, and “Fights like this don’t matter. Fights like this aren’t really in my game plan.” He named Mikey Garcia and Sergey Lipinets as potential opponents. Garcia and Lipinets are scheduled to fight each other on March 10.
Fortuna said after the loss, “The public knows what happened, they booed because they know I won.” Fortuna and Easter Jr. got into it with each other in the ring, and Fortuna said he’d like a rematch at 135 pounds, promising he’d make weight. This isn’t likely to happen, but Fortuna deserves an opportunity against a quality opponent based on his solid performance Saturday.
In other undercard results, two big Americans had a great night.
Polish born Brooklynite Adam “Baby Face” Kownacki (17-0, 14 KOs) thrilled his hometown fans with a sixth round knockout over Iago Kiladze (26-2, 18 KOs) in a heavyweight contest. Kownacki knocked Kiladze down in the fourth round, and again for good in the sixth round. Kownacki is a big, lumbering slugger with a big personality to match. He’s a legitimate top ten contender but he isn’t ready for the likes of an Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder just yet.
Light heavyweight Marcus Browne of Staten Island got the job done in just two minutes and 15 seconds, stopped Francy Nietu of Montreal, Canada. Browne (21-0 16 KOs) delivered a right hook and a left that dropped Nietu (17-2, 4 KOs) l. He managed to get to his feet, but as Browne overpowered Nietu, referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stepped in and did what was necessary.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
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