Errol Spence Jr is looking to remain unbeaten and stake his claim as the top 147-pound fighter in the sport, but the IBF titleholder has to go through the tough WBC titleholder Shawn Porter this Saturday night on FOX PBC pay-per-view from Los Angeles.
Our staffers make their picks.
Rocky Balboa is one of my favorite boxing movies. It’s where Stallone abandoned all the increasing cartoonish qualities of Rocky II through Rocky V and got back to the heart and soul of who Rocky Balboa was as a character. Sadly, he didn’t do the same with John Rambo in Last Blood, which I saw in the theater last weekend, hoping it would be more First Blood than the dopey Rambo sequels that followed. Rocky in Rocky Balboa battled Mason Dixon with “good old-fashioned blunt force trauma.” Porter’s not a particularly huge puncher, but what he can do is get rugged. Sap the fight from Spence.
Anyway, listen — this is not a good pick I’m about to make. By all rights, Errol Spence should beat Shawn Porter. He’s longer, taller, a little younger, a little less beaten up, and just a better boxer. If Shawn Porter “boxes” like he did against Yordenis Ugas, Spence is gonna beat him 12-0 or knock him out. If Shawn Porter relentlessly mauls and grinds and roughs Spence up, could be a different story. I’m a lover of “dirty boxing,” of the sort of game plan Shawn Porter has used in his best performances. He’s as burly as you can be at 5’7”, 147 pounds. He can be mean. Nasty. And if he does that — and I hope he does, because it’ll make for the best possible fight — this is going to be a fight that truly tests Errol Spence like never before. If Porter can drag Spence into his sort of fight, if he executes that game plan, he’s got a shot. And I’m picking it him to grind one out against a fighter who may be getting just a bit ahead of himself with these P4P prognostications and praises. Smart money says I’m wrong, but to hell with smart money. (Don’t bet on my pick, seriously, your wife will hate you on Sunday. After all these years, I still just like to get excited about a big fight.) Porter SD-12
Errol Spence might be highly favored by the oddsmakers, but this is about as good of a fight that can be made in the welterweight division. It’s a title unification between two tough guys who are still in their primes - you’ll get no complaints out of me. That said, I think the fairly wide odds pretty much reflect the general sentiment about this fight. That’s not to say it’ll necessarily be a wipeout for Spence, but that he does just about everything better than Porter. Porter might be more aggressive than Spence in certain spots, but he’s not really faster, a better boxer, nor a better puncher than Spence. Both fighters come in tremendous shape so I think that’ll be a wash, but I also think Spence can change styles in a fight more effectively than Porter can. Porter does have an iron will and an iron chin, though, and I think that carries him through a fight where he makes a go of it but ultimately loses pretty comfortably on the cards. Spence UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
I will always respect fighters who know how to roughhouse properly. There’s a legitimate art to it beyond just charging in head-first and hoping the referee is either an idiot or understands that you’re the A-side and treats your indiscretions appropriately. Denigrating Porter’s success on the basis of him being a mauling sort of bruiser is misguided; his style offsets his technical limitations and allows him to give ostensibly superior boxers fits.
Spence is just so damn good, though. I can’t see Porter wading through that sort of firepower all night, nor can I see him successfully bullying Spence into the ropes long enough to get any meaningful work done. Just being tough as nails isn’t enough for Porter to bridge this sort of gap. To his detriment, he’ll probably stay on his feet for all 12, but Spence should dominate. Spence UD-12
This is one of those fights that as a UK viewer throws up the “wake up vs. record” dilemma. I’ve always liked Porter’s style, but with a serious lack of one-punch power, it’s nearly impossible to see how he can upset Spence, or even come reasonably close to it. With the length and size advantage coupled with an awkward southpaw stance, Spence will sit on his jab from the outside picking off the front-footed attacks from “Showtime”. Porter may be used to finding ways to negate these advantages – still, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tested the usually reliable engine of Porter, making him look silly towards the back end of the fight.
Spence has the power to get the stoppage – which would be a real statement of intent in the division – but Porter hasn’t got that quit in him. It’s rare you see Porter hurt or in any sort of trouble, with Broner’s 12th round left hook the only real blueprint Spence has to work with. Well, the alarm is set for 3 a.m, so I’m hoping for a better pay off than my prediction expects. I’ve got a feeling it will be a comfortable night for Spence. Spence UD-12