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Virgil Hunter breaks down Errol Spence vs. Shawn Porter, Mario Barrios vs. Batyr Akhmedov

The trainer shares his thoughts on a couple of this weekend’s fights.

Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

In this video interview with Fight Hub TV, trainer Virgil Hunter sits down with Marcos Villegas to break down some of his insight into this weekend’s actions. Check out some excerpts of what he had to say below...

Hunter on how he views the Barrios-Akhmedov fight:

“Well I think it’s a fight that’s apart of [Barrios’] dream in his career. He’s prepared for it. It’s a very important fight against a formidable opponent. I think that Mario’s coming off a lot of momentum that’ll keep him victorious, not overlooking his opponent. We understand it’s gonna be a very competitive fight and I look for great things for Mario.

On the experience gap between Barrios and Akhmedov, with Barrios having 24 fights and Akhmedov only 7:

“Well if you look at it on paper [Akhmedov] has just as much or more experience than Mario, fighting at the World Series of Boxing — these are professional fighters whether you want to admit it or not. When you get to the top of the amateur game at the world level and you fighting world championship’re a pro fighter. So the experience gap is not significant to me. [Akhmedov] might even have more experience.”

On what he thinks Barrios needs to do in order to take over in the fight:

“Well he just has to be Mario...[Akhmedov has] good feet, there’s not much footage on him. But the footage I have seen he has good feet, he sort of has Lomachenko-type feet. He can change directions real good. I don’t think he’s fought anybody on the pro level like Mario, so I think Mario’s determination and his desire that the prize is right there, what he’s worked for, I think that’s gonna be real significant in pushing him forward in the fight.”

On how he thinks Barrios stacks up with the other 140lb titleholders like Regis Prograis, Josh Taylor, and Jose Ramirez:

“Well once he gets to that stage and he wins the belt, you have to say he has an even chance to fight either one of those guys — that he stacks up, that he matches up well with either one ‘em. Mario brings a lot of power to the sport with either hand, his range, he’s beginning to understand the sport, he’s beginning to understand what to do, when to do it, and he follows the fight plan to the T. So he’ll be a danger to any one of those guys.”

On how he breaks down Errol Spence vs Shawn Porter:

“Well with respect to both corners — I know both corners, I know Derrick, I know Kenny — so with respect to both corners I have to leave that part of the fight open. I would just say for Shawn to be victorious he’s gonna have to impose his will, he’s gonna have to take some things away from Errol and keep them away for him to be victorious.

“Errol pretty much has to convince Shawn that whatever he’s trying is not gonna work that night, and take him from upstairs down to the gloves — from the brain to the gloves, so to speak, from his mindset to the gloves. And Shawn has to be effective one round at a time.”

On if this is a harder fight for Spence to win, or a harder fight for Porter to win:

“I think the first three rounds will tell who the fight’s gonna be most difficult for. It’s a difficult fight for both guys. Both guys are driven, both guys have proven that they can rise to the occasion. Shawn has won some big fights and he’s been in some big fights. He’s lost some close, tight fights, fought Thurman when Thurman was at his peak.

“So, again, it’s a fight that has a lot of questions, but it’s more close to answers than it is questions. I think the bottom line is: can Shawn overcome Spence?”

On how he would game plan against Spence:

“At this time it would be hard for me to even come up with a game plan. I can’t even fathom right now a game plan for Errol. But I would say if any punch is gonna make a difference for Shawn in this fight, he’s gonna have to have an effective jab. His jab has to be effective, it has to be educated, it has to set up everything, and it has to keep Errol off balance. I think that’s the most important punch for him to utilize to be victorious in the fight.”

On if Porter could earn some rounds to make this a close fight just based off his activity level:

“Well Errol brings a lot of volume to the fight himself. He throws a lot of punches. I think he’s above the welterweight average. So I think the judges will be swayed by the more telling punches...I think the way Errol punches, I think it’s pretty clear when his punch lands because he places his punches. Shawn swarms and he volumes, he hits you everywhere, on your arms, your shoulders, so it’s hard to pick up on what punches are landing. But it’s effective, what he does.

“But if you think about Shawn’s fights, you would have to go to each round and say, okay, where did he land six or seven — even though the work rate is there, even though he is landing punches — you would have to say in your mind ‘where were the clean shots?’

“But that’s a testament to his style — his style has overcome a lot of styles. He’s beaten a lot of great people. You can’t count him out...Just like when he beat [Oleksandr] Usyk in the amateurs. I saw him in the amateurs fighting at ‘65, giving up size, giving up height, giving up weight, and he came out victorious. He was a handful. So I don’t think anything will be any different Saturday night, he’s gonna be a handful.”

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