Errol Spence Jr. faces a tough task in beating Shawn Porter while not chasing away a dream fight with Manny Pacquiao
Undefeated IBF Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. didn’t go as far as calling his shot yesterday during his closing remarks at the press conference held at Staples Center in Star Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles. And while he didn’t make a guarantee, he did set the expectations for the outcome of his unification bout with WBC champion Shawn Porter.
“My whole thing is that I’m looking for the stoppage. I want to make a statement that I’m clearing out the division. I want Manny Pacquiao and all of the top names in this division.”
Oddly, after heading into his March fight against long-standing Pound For Pound fighter Mikey Garcia with a knockout ratio of nearly 88 percent (21 KOs in 24 fights), after the former Lightweight champion went the distance in a one-sided affair Spence’s once vaunted power became a conundrum – especially for those attempting to predict their Spence-Porter winner.
The cards reflected Spence’s dominance with scores of 120-108 twice and 120-107. But it was hard to overlook a career-high of 1082 thrown punches coupled with a connect margin of 345 to 75. Even more startling, Spence’s landed shots over the final 1/3 of the fight were 35, 29, 34 and 25 per CompuBox. One judge even scored the 11th round 10-8 for Spence.
Two bouts earlier in January 2018, Spence had another stellar offensive night when he overwhelmed Lamont Peterson – a fighter with his best accolades at Junior Welterweight – with a 161 to 45 landed punches margin over seven punishing rounds for the 29-year old 2012 Olympian. Peterson was dropped in the fifth, with the fight stopped after the seventh round following trainer Barry Hunter’s request to referee Harvey Dock.
Spence entered the fight with Mikey on a streak of 11 knockouts, including a 5-round TKO with three knock downs versus Chris Algieri who valiantly fought to a decision versus Manny Pacquiao. Following an August 2018 KO win over Leonard Bundu, Spence traveled to London where punishment forced former champion Kell Brook to take a knee in the 10th round. Brook’s eye socket was fractured in the subsequent round, and he elected to take a second knee which ceded his IBF title to Spence.
On September 28, back at Staples Center for battle, Spence faces a battle-tested natural Welterweight in Porter who only has visited the canvas once in his career. Former four-division champion Adrien Broner caught Porter with a left hook in the 12th round of their 2015 showdown.
The motivation for a knockout is clearly there while addressing media and fans in Downtown Los Angeles Spence alluded to the resentment that festered in him while being forced to wait his turn by his contemporaries.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for. I had to be on the sidelines and watch Shawn fight Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia, but now I’m in that group. I have the opportunity to fight these top guys and make my name known.”
However, now that the head of Man Down Promotions has revealed his expectation for the fight’s result, would an equally strong statement be made if the southpaw DeSoto, Texas native only wins by decision? In all honesty, a decision win possibly spurs some degree of buzz for a 2020 unification bout with what will be a 41-year old Manny Pacquiao. This matchup once seemed implausible after Pacquiao exited the ring at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium back in March, after congratulating Spence for a victory instead of Garcia. A decision win likely further fuels WBO champion Terence Crawford fans – during their extended holding pattern – regarding their winner in the division’s most difficult fight to make.
Moreover, a decision win over Porter possibly alters the trajectory, for some, as Spence inevitably moves up to challenge the elite fighters at both Super Welterweight and Middleweight. There’s truly no need to rush to judgment on Spence’s true merit as a threat across the next two divisions spanning a total of 13 pounds, because neither a stunning knockout nor a virtuoso 9-3 or 10-2 margin versus Porter are likely to be a decisive factor in serious talks convening to finalize a lucrative fight with the sport’s money man Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
The truth is a man down, permanently, on September 28 probably either creates more uncertainty or disappointment for Spence’s next move. The statement could be that for boxing’s premier division, business remains status quo.
All photos by Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions