On Saturday night, former U.S. Olympian Errol Spence Jr. successfully unified the WBC/IBF welterweight titles by defeating Shawn Porter via split decision at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Fox Sports Pay-Per-View. The official scores read 116-111(X2) for Spence, with one leaning towards Porter, 115-112.
After a tentative first two rounds, both fighters turned up the heat in round three. From that point on, both combatants stood in the pocket and hammered away in what many fans and pundits are calling “fight of the year” candidate.
Porter (30-3-1, 17 KO) fought in his typical mauling style, pushing Spence to the ropes/corner at times and landing power shots to both the head and body. The power punching and constant aggression are probably what earned Porter the rounds he won on the official scorecards.
But Spence (26-0, 21 KO) stood his ground, maintaining position in the pocket with Porter and firing clean effective shots of his own, even pushing Porter back at times. Spence was able to land cleaner punches on a more consistent basis, which most likely earned him the victory on the cards. According to CompuBox, he outlanded Porter 221 punches to 172.
In the 11th round, Spence dropped Porter with a left-hand shot, further separating himself from Porter on the scorecards. Porter rose from the canvas quickly, not terribly hurt from the blow.
Both Spence and Porter stood toe-to-toe and battled it out in the 12th and final round, with the crowd on their feet as the final bell arrived. In the end, the boxing world got exactly what it was hoping for: a closely contested fight between two exceptional fighters in their prime, at the summit of the welterweight division.
“Shawn Porter is a rough, awkward fighter. He made [the fight] real awkward for me,” said the new unified welterweight champion to Fox Sports’ Heidi Androl. “I didn’t look how I wanted to look. I looked kinda sloppy in there and get off how I wanted to. But that's just credit to Shawn Porter. He’s a true champion, he’s rough, he’s rugged and he always comes to fight.”
In the co-main event, unbeaten super middleweight David Benavidez regained his WBC title at 168 lbs by stopping Anthony Dirrell in the ninth round.
While Dirrell was able to land clean shots here and there, he simply was unable to deal with the constant pressure and volume punching of the 22-year-old. Benavidez pressed forward throughout, forcing the 34-year-old Dirrell to move around the perimeter of the ring and expend energy.
In the sixth round, Benavidez opened up a big cut over the right eye of Dirrell. With blood obstructing his vision, Dirrell found it increasingly difficult to defend against Benavidez’s attack.