Spence Decisions Porter in FOTY Candidate
By now you’ve probably heard that Shawn Porter looked far more like a welterweight champion than he did a 10-to-1 underdog on Saturday night against Errol Spence, putting on a great performance before eventually dropping a split, 112-115, 116-111, 116-111 decision. Many people are calling it a fight of the year candidate -- PBC even made a Steven Crowder change my mind meme about it, which was weird -- but for whatever reason (likely because everybody wants Spence-Crawford) there weren’t many calls for an immediate rematch.
While Porter is likely better than many people thought, the fight did raise a few questions about the now IBF and WBC welterweight champion, Errol Spence Jr. For as good as he is, we’ve seen Porter look much worse than he did on Saturday night. Kell Brook boxed effectively against him, but Porter ran out of gas late in the fight so it’s possible better conditioning made a big difference this Saturday. Keith Thurman won a close decision over Porter, but it was a unanimous one. There’s no way of knowing how much Porter has improved since those fights, or if it ends up we’ve been overrating Spence this whole time, but it’s something to keep in mind ahead of the big fight we’ve all been waiting for: Spence versus Danny Garcia!
Yes, unfortunately after the fight PBC brought Garcia into the ring to challenge Spence; usually in boxing they’ll at least pretend to try and make the fight we all want after a big win. The crowd relentlessly booed the idea, desperate for Spence-Crawford or at least Spence-Pacquiao. Unfortunately, PBC isn’t going to bend to the will of the people and The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger is reporting there’s already a deal in place. The fight is happening Jan. 25 on Fox PPV.
Garcia’s best win at 147 is probably a 2016 decision over Robert Guerrero. While he’s a good fighter, there’s little to make us believe he can beat Spence. But before we attack Spence for taking the fight, we should note that in “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas, Terence Crawford isn’t exactly facing the cream of the crop either. Spence-Crawford needs to happen soon. There’s nothing else to say.
Benavidez Stops Dirrell to Retake WBC 168 Pound Belt
Although he looked good early on, 34-year-old Anthony Dirrell couldn’t keep up with 22-year-old David Benavidez’s pace, and couldn’t see after getting cut over the eye in the sixth round. (The cut was aided by a viciously illegal elbow from Benavidez which could well have resulted in a disqualification.) Following the cut, Benavidez started punishing Dirrell over the next couple rounds, until with most of boxing social media begging for the fight to be stopped, Dirrell’s corner threw in the towel midway through the ninth round.
While it’s great Benavidez won back his title, after the fight he said something very odd. Benavidez declared “We put so much hard work into this training camp. We left home and were away from everything. But I had the dream to become the youngest two-time super middleweight world champion and I made my dreams come true.”
There’s nothing wrong with being proud of winning back your belt, but Benavidez isn’t Muhammed Ali getting stripped the heavyweight title for boycotting the Vietnam War. He was stripped of his title because he tested positive for cocaine. Aside from the oddness of celebrating being an “X-Time” champion at the same weight class -- wouldn’t you be a better fighter if you never lost it in the first place? -- applauding yourself for being the youngest two-time champion after you were stripped of your title due to drug use is a weird thing to brag about.
While people would love to see Benavidez fight Caleb Plant or Gilberto Ramirez, up next going to be a mandatory title defense against Avni Yildirim, the fighter who lost a chance at the then-vacant WBC belt against Dirrell. As for Dirrell, while many would like to see him retire -- and he’s been talking about it for a while -- after the loss he said there’s no way he’s retiring because he won’t end his career on a loss. If that’s the case, hopefully he gets an easier opponent in his next outing.
Barrios Wins Hugely Controversial Decision over Akhmedov
Mario Barrios won the WBA “World” 140-pound title by defeating Batyr Akhmedov via a unanimous, 116-110, 115-111, 114-112 decision on Saturday night. However, while he dropped Akhmedov in the fourth and 12th rounds, people were not happy with the decision. Chris Mannix tweeted that the 116-110 score should be investigated, and that Akhmedov “Earned a significant win. The judges took it away from him.” Sporting News’ Andreas Hale called it ridiculous and argued “I hate seeing three blind mice scoring a fight.” And, ESPN’s Steve Kim kept it simple by tweeting simply “Justice for Akhmedov!”
If you’re wondering how this decision could have happened in the face of so many people seeing the fight the other way, you should know that Akhmedov is represented by Al Haymon, Akhmedov isn’t.
Josesito Lopez Batters John Molina to Eighth-Round TKO
Going into Saturday nights’ fight, John Molina and Josesito Lopez were supposed to engage in an all-out, back and forth brawl. Unfortunately for Molina, Lopez took control from the opening bell, dropping Molina twice in the first round. Molina had enough heart to come back and make a decent fight of it, but he was dropped again in the seventh, before the fight was finally stopped in the eighth round.
After the fight, “The Riverside Rocky” Lopez said he wants a significant fight, hopefully with a world champion. That’s unlikely to happen with him already having lost eight fights, but this was a big win, even if the fight wasn’t as fun as people were hoping it would be.
Guerrero Cruises to Easy Decision Win
A former champion who would make a great opponent for Lopez would be Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. Guerrero cruised to an easy, unanimous 99-91, 99-91, 98-92 decision win over his unheralded opponent, Jerry Thomas, who was fighting outside of the Midwest for the first time. Unless Guerrero was completely washed up, he was always going to win this fight. However, now 3-0 in his comeback, there’s no way Guerrero is going to be satisfied fighting guys like Jerry Thomas on Fox Sports One as a PPV lead-in. We’ll see how aggressive (and realistic) Guerrero and his team are with their matchmaking for his next fight.
Dubois Scores Easy First Round KO Victory
Headlining an ESPN Plus card, potential British next big thing Daniel Dubois scored an easy first round knockout victory over Ghana’s Ebenezer Tetteh. There’s not much to say about the fight; Dubois looked great, especially in his combination punching, but Tetteh was such an unknown that there’s no way of knowing if he was a competent opponent. Frank Warren has been making absurd statements about Dubois, like that he should be challenging Anthony Joshua within a year. While that’s obviously untrue, it’s going to ring even more hollow if he doesn’t start putting Dubois in with fighters better than an unknown Ghanaian like Tetteh. Supposedly up next for him is fellow undefeated Brit Joe Joyce, which would provide a lot of knowledge about how real the hype -- of both guys, really -- is.
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