By: Kirk Jackson
Fight time has arrived and one of the highly anticipated, action-packed bouts, will ensue this weekend at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Although super middle champions Anthony Dirrell and David Benavidez will attempt to steal the show Saturday night, along with other notable fighters and former champions such as Robert Guerrero, Amon Rashidi, Mario Barrios, Batyr Akhmedov, Joey Spence and many other, the spotlight will definitely be on the main event.
The main event this weekend features a welterweight unification match, featuring the World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight champion “Showtime” Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KO’s) versus the International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. (25-0, 19 KO’s).
Spence, operating out of the southpaw stance, possessing power, accuracy, precision and known to deliver devastating punches – particularly towards the body, is listed as the slight favorite.
He describes his style as a passive aggressive fighter; meaning he applies pressure, while remaining defensively responsible behind his high-guard, counter-jabs effectively and maintains proper distance to avoid most offensive assaults.
Spence’s high guard defensive posture is not quite like the same style of Hall of Fame fighter and fellow southpaw Ronald “Winky” Wright, but highly effective thus far in his own right.
The native Texan more so possesses similar traits of ruggedness, grit and maliciousness like Hall of Famer “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler.
While not quite the switch-hitter like Hagler, Spence has a lethal right jab, technical skill, versatility as a fight and mean intentions behind his punches.
And if Spence is shadowing the path of Hagler, Porter is a necessary piece to his puzzle.
Porter of course, wants no part of that. The Ohio native aims to play spoiler and wants to carve out his own path of history.
“I respect and admire his dominance. Both of us are supposed to be great that night, punch-for-punch. I’m going to open his eyes,” Porter told BoxingScene.com.
“My energy and presence in the ring on Saturday is going to be one that’s going to be remembered for a long time. There is nothing that’s going to happen to stop me from being successful.”
Some observers view Porter as a micro-sized Mike Tyson, tenacious with his attack, relentless as he lunges to attack the body, head, limbs and at times, the opponent may reel from incidental head-butts and questionable elbows. Essentially, Porter throws everything, including the kitchen sink.
An athletic specimen, equipped with the football pedigree he brings to the ring, Porter is a tough fighter to deal with. By contrast, he’s one of the nicest people you’ll get a chance to interact with outside the ring.
“Errol and I are likeable and respectable guys, but we give it all in the ring. Fights like this are going to help the sport of boxing,” said Porter. “Spence is a tactical fighter. I know they’ll have a good game plan but I’m confident in my abilities and in my corner.”
Same can be said about Spence. Laid back, calm and composed outside the ring and while he maintains a great level of composure, he has a killer instinct necessary to reach the top level.
In the last press conference leading up to their showdown Saturday night, some of Spence’s killer instinct came out in the form of verbal assault.
“Nobody complain about my fights. You wild. You fight like a football player. You an in-shape street fighter. You an in-shape street fighter. That’s what you are. You fight like you drowning. You fight like you drowning, and you don’t know how to swim.”
Porter, for all his naysayers, is never short when it comes to heart and effort. Porter also has skills not always recognizable to the common eye, but skills and traits that enabled him to be effective up to this point in his career.
There are many variables that can make this potential fight of the year candidate difficult to predict.
Keys for Shawn Porter:
Movement and Angles – Porter must use his football acumen to his advantage, and keep Spence on the move and searching for spots to attack. The importance of feints and angles is imperative for Porter to have success. He must keep Spence off balanced and it’s important for Porter to continue to make Spence reset.
Keep a basic game plan – While it is good to have multiple plans on hand, in case one option isn’t working, having too many weapons may cause ineffectiveness. Attempting multiple plans may nullify the effectiveness of what Porter does well because he is spreading himself too thin, trying to implement various styles and tactics.
Consistency: Porter is a consistent fighter as far as effort, but the consistency to stick to a game plan, even if it does not work early on, may pay dividends later. Subtle adjustments to the plan may be applied to effectively create the openings, but consistency and belief in the plan can be beneficial for Porter.
Use your head – Porter has to uses his head figuratively and literally. Figuratively with applying the right game plan; which may be making this a dogfight, an ultimate scrap, attempting to bully Spence against the ropes and batter his ribcage,, as he is not accustomed to that from what we’ve witnessed thus far across his professional career. Porter can literally use his head to displace Spence in the trenches, maybe even accidentally land a head-butt ala Evander Holyfield or Bernard Hopkins.
On a serious note, head-butts unfortunately, are a part of the sport. Occurrences tend to happen more naturally between the orthodox fighter (Porter) and a southpaw (Spence) due to the positioning of their feet.
Keys for Errol Spence:
The Almighty Jab – The jab is the best punch from Spence and legendary George Foreman refers to the jab as the most important punch in boxing. The jab will serve multiple purposes for Spence; it will function as a range finder, will help set-up his offense as the initiating weapon, it will enable Spence to measure distance and establish proper range for his defense and if the jab is consistently launched towards Porter’s head, body and limbs, it will give “Showtime” something to think about.
Strong Base/Footwork – Spence should maintain his ground and use his solid base to his advantage when facing Porter. Some of Porter’s past opponents freeze up or wilt from Porter’s daunting attack when he lunges forward with aggression.
It’s crucial for Spence to not get swallowed and smothered from the pressure. He cannot allow himself to drown against the ropes and must fight effectively in the trenches when the opportunities occur. Also, to prevent Porter’s effectiveness, Spence must cut the ring off when he is in pursuit of Porter. Shawn displayed the ability in his last couple of fights he can move and box when needed be; Spence should aim to cut the ring off if Porter attempts to move and fight off his back foot.
Keep it Clean – The former Olympian is a highly technical fighter. Leading up to this fight and even leading up to his previous bout against Mikey Garcia, Spence emphasized the importance of skills and technique, stating he has an abundance of both. He is clearly regarded as the more technical fighter between the two, and he has to maintain space to operate and to get off his punches – preferably in bunches. Keep away from head clashes, accidental head butts, roughhousing and unpredictable skirmishes.
Calm and Composed – It’s inevitable a firefight at some point will occur because the fighters have styles that will ultimately mix and lead up to that at some point. Spence will be well served to keep his composure if ever displaced off balance or positioned against the ropes. Remain unruffled and fight his fight – pick spots to get his shots off, create the separation and seize the opportunities when the openings are available as Porter tends to leave many openings.
This fight should go down as one to remember; hopefully for all of the great things boxing has to offer. It’s more than likely there will be plenty of action and no shortage of heart and effort from both fighters.
The stage is set for this historic unification bout, the stars will be out and all that’s left is for the story to unfold as Saturday night looms near. Who will set their mark and be the show stopper?