By: Kirk Jackson
It was expected to be part-two of Errol “The Truth” Spence’s (26-0, 21 KO’s) coming out party. Last Saturday, the newly unified WBC and IBF welterweight champion scored a split-decision victory over former two-time welterweight champion “Showtime” Shawn Porter (30-3-1, 17 KO’s).
In what is considered by many observers as a fight for the ages and early candidate for Fight of the Year, Spence wasn’t the “Show Stopper” he wanted to be last weekend, but he put together a complete performance, capturing victory and seizing another world title in the process. Because of course, the show must go on.
“I felt like I won,” Spence said in a post-fight interview. “Like I said, it was a tough fight. And then when I got the knockdown, where I initially went in to try to score the knockout – like I said, if I get him hurt, I’m gonna try to jump on him. But like I said, he has a lot of heart. And he always comes to fight. He’s a true warrior and, you know, he came back swinging. So, you know, I didn’t expect nothing less than for him just to stand his ground and try to fight back after I hurt him and scored the knockdown.”
“Shawn and their camp questioned, you know, that I never been tested before, I’ve never been hit with a great shot before, I never been uncomfortable before. And I think it showed a lot that, you know, I’m a real dog and I do have a lot of grit, and I do have a lot of ability to, you know, withstand a shot, take a shot, and give a couple back.”
Porter’s immeasurable level of unpredictability and awkwardness played to his advantage for stretches during the fight. These same traits also paid dividends against Yordenis Ugas and Danny Garcia, in subsequent fights leading up to Spence.
“You know, he throw punches from different angles,” Spence said. “He real awkward. And I already knew he was gonna be tough, but you know, he was a lot tougher than I thought.”
Although it was Porter’s changeability and strategic tactics that essentially enabled this instant classic match-up to unfold, Spence maintains his measure of attack was all according to plan.
“I don’t think I played into Shawn game plan,” Spence said, “because I said throughout this whole, you know, tour and throughout training camp that, you know, I was gonna try to get the knockout. And that’s what I tried to do, but, you know, Shawn’s tough, he’s a real competitor and have a ton of heart. So, even if I did hurt him, you know, he’ll come back with shots. You know, so I tried to do it, but it just didn’t happen.”
For Porter’s part, although he fell short of the ultimate goal, he has nothing to be ashamed of and his stock rose in spite of defeat. Porter routinely lives up to his moniker “Showtime” and people need to place respect on his name. The show on goes on.
“Listen, I’m gonna be myself, and myself says when I don’t win, I can’t hang my head when I don’t win,” Porter said post-fight.
“I can’t make excuses. This was a fantastic fight tonight. I definitely have to take a look back. I felt comfortable a majority of the rounds, really. The one round I didn’t feel comfortable in obviously was the 11th round, where my hand touched the canvas. But other than that, I felt very comfortable through this fight.
“I tried to stay poised and, you know, stay within whatever my corner was asking me to do, make the necessary adjustments, so on and so forth. So, for me to say that was a robbery, you’re not gonna hear me say it. Sorry. My dad can say it. Barry can say. Everybody else can say it. But that ain’t gonna come from me.”
Progressing forward from this fight, albeit this was a match-up for the ages, warranting a rematch, even only if for pure entertainment sake, there was clarity for who truly won the fight.
Spence threw more punches, landed more punches – comparatively round by round and cumulatively when all the punches were tallied. Spence landed punches with greater accuracy, landed the more eye-catching shots, establishing distance from Porter in the championship rounds and scoring a knockdown in the process.
Revisiting the fight, some observers may negatively critique last week’s performance, or have something bad to say about Porter and or Spence. They’re well within their right to speak their opinions.
However, these opinions and narratives may be off-base.
According to former WBC and WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KO’s), he defeated Porter more decisively.
Comparing Spence and Thurman’s performances against Porter, Spence won via split decision, two judges ruled in his favor 116-111, while the other judge favored Porter 115-112. For Thurman vs. Porter dating back to June of 2016, all three judges scored the fight 115-113 for Thurman. Although unanimous, the margin of point’s victory was not as great (7-6 in favor of Spence comparatively).
From a statistical stand point according to CompuBox punch statistics, Thurman landed 235 of 539 punches (44 percent) and Porter landed 236 of 662 (36 percent). Spence vs. Porter’s punch stat numbers were already posted.
Comparing the numbers, although Thurman was more accurate with his punch selection and slightly landed more punches than Spence. While Spence, through more punches and negated Porter’s offensive attack at a higher measure of efficiency, limiting Porter to a lower punch percentage and less punches landed, in spite of the greater amount of punches thrown for Porter against Spence.
Some of the detractors of Porter and Spence include the contingent fan base of Terence Crawford, who believe the multi-divisional champion, is the best welterweight and pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Crawford, six-time world champion, across three weight classes, undefeated, skillful, with a mean-streak inside the ring, is highly regarded as one of the best and rightfully so.
— Terence Crawford (@terencecrawford) September 29, 2019
Continuing with the narrative of Spence was exposed against Porter, is a disservice to both Spence and Porter.
Unification fights should be closely contested as it is a battle between two champions, fighting for supremacy over their division.
Skimming through his resume, in recent years, Porter essentially faced the who’s who of welterweights; Kell Brook, Paulie Malignaggi, Adrien Broner, Thurman, Andre Berto, Danny Garcia, Yordenis Ugas and Spence.
Question, who ever looked good fighting Shawn Porter? Even in defeat, Porter always gives maximum effort and his opponents leave the encounter with some form of indication they were in a harsh battle.
Porter made it a dogfight, a rugged scrap, attempting to bully Spence all while performing with a measure of tact and at a high-level.
Utilizing feints, footwork by shifting his feet, providing different angles by placing his body in different positions to give Spence dissimilar looks, throwing a looping-awkward left hook to finish some of his combinations and placing Spence in the position of having to acquiesce to rough house fighting in certain spots and kept Spence off balance. Spence had to keep resetting.
And as a casual viewer or hardcore fan, shouldn’t we expect highly competitive fights? Shouldn’t we respect the level of toughness and aptitude displayed from both combatants?
For Spence’s part in attempts to deal with Porter’s controlled madness, he obliged and displayed willingness to engage in high-level warfare. The fight went as predicted in the pre-fight breakdown.
Again, for the detractors of Porter and Spence, the fights are not fought or won on paper. We never know how the fight will unfold until the two combatants step in the ring.
As the show goes on, boxing fans and experts alike may speculate how Crawford vs. Porter, or how Crawford vs. Spence will turn out, if it happens. But we do not know.
Adding to the credence of how fights are not won on paper, as an example, Manny Pacquiao is regarded as one of the legends of the sport and he struggled against Jeff Horn.
Whether as an observer you agreed with the decision in favor of Horn or not, Pacquiao still struggled against the rugged Australian.
Based off recent performances against Broner and Thurman, it’s difficult to suggest Pacquiao was washed up when he fought Horn.
Crawford handled Horn relatively easily, stopping Horn via TKO across nine rounds. Although he would be favored against, it does not necessarily mean Crawford would defeat Thurman.
It’s the age-old adage, styles make fights. As referenced earlier, it’s difficult to look good against Porter.
Another perspective to view Spence’s performance against Porter, is he displayed versatility to fight a different type of fight and to still found the path to victory.
Leading up to the fight against Mikey Garcia, many boxing experts assumed Garcia’s intelligence and alleged greater range of skills would enable success against Spence. So Spence set out to prove a point, to outbox the four-division champion.
Against Porter, the collective narrative was Porter’s success depended on his ability to make the fight a war, because many believed the 2012 Olympian was untested. Not tested, in spite of traveling to England, to face and defeat the IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook in his home turf.
“All my punches have bad intentions,” said Spence, post-fight of his pay-per-view event against Porter.
“By boxing Mikey Garcia, I wanted to show people I could do it with that style. Porter was throwing a lot. I wanted to show I was the bigger and stronger welterweight.”
At this point in time, in spite of the critics, Spence appears to be the top guy in a loaded division. The newly unified welterweight champ refers to himself as the “Big fish.”
Big fish 🦈
— Errol Spence (@ErrolSpenceJr) September 29, 2019
The “Big fish” is slated to return January of 2020. With Crawford fighting towards the end of the year against presumably Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KO’s), we can rule Crawford out of the mix at least for early 2020.
While they work on and hopefully sort out the political warfare, the show must go on. Whether that equates to Spence vs. Danny Garcia (who boldly issued the challenge) or a rematch with Porter (who is deserving of a rematch), will be sorted out sooner than later.