By: William Holmes
Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions Series returned tonight to the NBC network live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Two fights were featured on tonight’s card and both featured boxers that are looking for future world title shots in the welterweight division.
The MGM Grand Garden Arena looked nowhere near capacity at the opening of the broadcast.
The first fight of the night was between last minute replacement Phil Lo Greco (26-1) and 2012 US Olympian Errol Spence Jr. (16-0). Spence usually fights in the welterweight division but this bout was fought in the junior middleweight limit due to the fact Lo Greco was a last minute replacement and didn’t have enough time to lose the additional weight.
Spence fought out of an orthodox stance while Lo Greco fought out of an orthodox stance. Lo Greco kept his left arm out like a stiff arm to keep Spence at a safe distance and Lo Greco had a good first round with activity but wasn’t able to land many clean shots. Spence ended the first round strong with hard straight left hands.
Spence opened up the second round with a good combination and found his range early. Spence was mixing up his combinations to the body and head of Lo Greco. His body punches were loud and hard and got the attention of the crowd. He connected with a total of eighteen body shots in the second round and was able to mix it up with some sneaky uppercuts. Lo Greco was staggered at the end of the second round with a lead right hook.
Spence went right at Lo Greco at the start of the third round and soon knocked him down with a heck right hook. Lo Greco was able to get back to his feet but was met with several more hard combinations to the body and head that had Lo Greco wobbly. Spence landed several more hard hooks to the head of Lo Greco by the ropes before the referee jumped in to stop the fight.
Errol Spence Jr. wins by TKO at 1:50 of the third round.
Afterwards Spence stated, “I worked the bod for a bit and got his hands to drop and then I was able to go to the head. That was the game plan; to go to the body, and that’s always the game plan. TO go to the body, and the head will follow.”
He followed that up by calling out a possibly future opponent. He stated, “The other 147 pounds will have to take notice. I want Keith Thurman next on September 12 for one of Floyd’s titles.”
The quick stoppage by Spence allowed NBC to broadcast a swing bout featuring another former US Olympian as Terrell Gausha (14-0) met Luis Grajeda (18-4-2) in the junior middleweight division.
Both boxers fought out of an orthodox stance and it was announced that Grajeda has gone 1-4 in his past five fights. Gausha appeared to land a straight right hand in the first round that may have forced Grajeda to take a knee, but the referee ruled it a push down. Grajeda was warned for punching behind the head in the first.
There were some good exchanged in the second round but Gausha was just the sharper boxer with crisper punches.
Gausha scored a knockdown in the third round with a hard jab cross combination that sent Grajeda crashing to the mat. Grajeda was able to get back to his feet and somehow survive the round, but he was never able to mount much of an offense after that.
Gausha was able to win a majority of the remaining rounds by boxing intelligently from the outside and picking his opponent apart. Gausha doesn’t have the dazzling combinations of his fellow US Olympic teammate Errol Spence Jr., but he showed he is a good, steady boxer.
The judges scored it 78-73, 79-72, and 79-72.
The main event of the night was between Adrien Broner (30-1) and Shawn Porter (25-1-1) in what many were calling the battle of Ohio.
Porter entered the ring first and appeared to have a majority of support of the crowd in attendance as he was cheered during fighter introductions and Broner was booed.
Porter looked like the bigger and thicker man inside the ring and Broner, perhaps a bit surprisingly, took the center of the ring while Porter circled on the outside. Broner was looking for a counter in the first round and was missing with the left hooks. Porter was able to land a couple of left hands that sent Broner backwards to the ropes, but Broner would hold on whenever Porter got in tight.
Broner opened up the second round with a couple of check left hooks but continued to tie up with Porter whenever he got in tight. Porter was able to duck most of Broner’s hooks in the second and banged to the body with good jabs to Broner’s face. Porter was way more active than Broner in the second round.
Porter came out aggressively in the third round and was pressing the action. Broner was looking for a counter left in the third but was also holding on way too much and was wanred by the referee. Porter was able to connect with a few lead left hooks in the third.
Porter landed a strong left jab in the opening moments of the fourth round but the referee ruled it a slip. Porter roughed up Broner in the fourth and fifth rounds and forced Broner to tie up with him whenever they got close. The referee again warned Broner for holding but did not take away a point.
Broner arguably won the fifth round, but Porter’s jab was sharp in the seventh round and was doing serious work to the body. Porter opened up the eighth round with a good two punch combination and continued to dig into the body whenever his hands were free.
Broner did little but dance away from Porter in the ninth round and was warned by the referee again. Porter’s best round of the night was in the tenth round when he stunned Broner with a lead right upstsairs and followed it up with combinations to the body.
Broner clearly needed a knockout in the final two rounds if he wanted to win the fight, but instead he held on constantly in the eleventh round and was finally deducted a point.
The final round was surprisingly tense as Broner opened up the round with a lead left hook that landed flush and sent Porter to the mat. Porter was able to recover and fight his way through the last and final round.
In the end the judges scored it 114-112, 115-111, and 118-108 for Shawn Porter.
Here are what the fighters had to say Saturday:
“”That’s how you beat a great fighter intelligently. We did everything we needed to do in preparation for this fight.
“Coming out we wanted to establish the jab and establish that we were the better boxer. I think we did that over the course of the fight, and tried to stick in some pressure, as well.
“I think I did a good job and accomplished what I wanted to do. There were no surprised out there, I knew he would be quick to counter.
“We established our dominance and that’s what got us those scores that we got and the win.
“Honestly my dad (trainer Kenny) wanted a quicker pace, a faster pace. And that’s why you have a corner. I think if I had listened to him better I would have fought a little bit better. There are things you can learn and things you can build upon.
“We’ll see what happens after this. I made a good statement tonight on NBC and showed what I’m capable of.”
“”I’m okay. My kids are okay and I’m financially okay. It’s okay.
“Nothing surprised me. At the end of the day, great champions can take a good loss, just like they take a good win.
“I still will fight anybody. It don’t matter. I am a real animal. I came to fight today and I didn’t get the decision. But at the end of the day everyone here will take my autograph and my picture.”
ERROL SPENCE JR.
“I got hit with a couple of head butts in the first round, but I came back strong and got good experience out of this fight.
“I worked the body for a bit and got his hands to drop and then I was able to go to the head. That was the game plan; to go to the body, that’s always the game plan. To go to the body, and the head will follow.
“On short rest, I knew he’d tire and fade quickly.
“I hit him with a right hook to the body and then caught his chin. Then I started whaling on him and it was over. I had a wounded guy and took advantage.
“PBC is great. This was my first time on a huge card like this and I put on a good show. PBC is going to help bring in the casual fans and get more exposure for all of us. Tonight was my coming out party.
“The other 147-pounders will have to take notice. I want Keith Thurman next on September 12 for one of Floyd’s titles.”
Photos: Suzanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions