Every important call is a close one. As fate would have it, the only thing that came between 16,702 mostly unstapled (and unstable) fans and their seats inside of Staples Center in Los Angeles, was the sound of destiny at the end of each round.
New unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr (26-0, 21KOs) outlasted and outblasted a classy former champion in Shawn Porter (30-3-1, 17KOs), but not before being outclassed and outplanned in collecting a grueling 12 round split decision.
“The Dog” on this night was supposed to be deposed WBC super middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell, who was gashed and sliced badly above the right eye by the now 2-time champion David Benavidez, before being bludgeoned and stopped in the 9th round. It was kinda cool to see a canine loving Michael Vick in attendance — maybe Al Haymon and Premiere Boxing Champions knew they had a FOX PPV “Fight of The Year” worthy dogfight on their hands, and I'll be damned if it wasn't that.
Due to events that required my attention in Gotham, I was unable to join the lovely Gayle Falkenthal and super cool Ryan O'Hara for the ringside call Live from Staples, but sometimes another perspective can offer greater appreciation and a better overall understanding of the event. PBC did a great job, as always, of presenting their stars before a PPV audience. It's good to see budding superstar Gervonta “Tank” Davis flanked by a spirited multi-divisional world champion in Adrien Broner. The fiery charisma of Jermall and Jermell Charlo are in the building. Julian “J-Rock” Williams and Jarrett “Swift” Hurd throw in on the vibe, before WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder went “Bomb Squad!” in front of cameras, to mock what will most likely be a Las Vegas style Empire State bombing of “King Kong”, Luis Ortiz, on November 23from MGM Grand.
Then, glamour division stars Keith “One-Time” Thurman and Danny “Swift” Garcia gave both excellent analytics and optics in covering the main event, as lead broadcaster Kate Abdo continued her solid 2019. It was a very energetic, lively PPV and carried plenty of fan appeal.
I'm at the AMC in Times Square with a few childhood aces and the theater is packed. That's good for boxing and confirms a new era.
Witnessing Gennady “GGG” Golovkin Vs Daniel Jacobs from the skybox on top of Madison Square Garden while far away from mainstream and independent media with Xavier Porter, Fight Night Live sidekick of NYF Editor-in-Chief Michael Woods, ranks as an all-time favorite. It was like being in a film room watching things in real-time. Jacobs didn't so much as expose Golovkin that night, in as much as he revealed what he wasn't: Invincible.
In the previous edition of this series, I mentioned one of the reasons Porter could show us “The Truth”, is because his conditioning was so real when I saw him in Vegas for Pacquiao Vs Thurman. That was on July 20. I also got a good look at Spence, while recalling how Keith told me straight up, that I was “riding the EJ train a little too much”, in terms of my fandom making his flaws become phantom. He was right.
I always felt that what made Floyd Mayweather (spotted inside Staples looking like a black version of “The Riddler” in grey) so great was how he stayed in year round optimal condition close to his weigh-in. He was always eliminating a major key to possible defeat, while constantly sharpening utensils that made him virtually unbeatable. The Spence I saw in Vegas during the summer was easily around 170lbs and living life — which included an occasional bar tab. He wasn't exactly murdering a pizza (really Keith?) before mixing it up with Shawn, but Kenny Porter brilliantly prepared his son for this fight, had Barry Hunter to reinforce things, and presented the superior corner over a great Derrick James and a wise Spence Sr, something also alluded to in the previous edition of this series.
As such, Team Porter really had a true 12 week training camp for Spence, which is bananas when you think about how it all went down. Porter was able to put a welterweight iteration of Henry Armstrong rehydrated to a solid 160lbs in there with a somewhat spent version of Spence. Not to make any excuses for Spence, but that's “The Truth”. Errol was exactly what Mikey Garcia faced, which is a fighter that nearly overwhelmed a special super lightweight in Mikey. Team Porter said, “Ok.. let's see if you can overwhelm a true super welterweight trained with modern science.”
Spence got off his stool for the beginning of the 10th round to enter the championship rounds with some serious swagger, which made me think about a comment from Heather Hardy, who said: “Porter fights for his life. I can relate to that.” Shawn was getting hit with cinder blocks, everywhere, and just kept throwing cement back. The brick he got caught with in the 11th to drop him — a sensational short left fired from the highlight reels of Gene Fullmer — stops any other welterweight in the world. Not Porter, whose heart was as big as the City of Angels, with a resolve that comes from Hell. He silenced critics like myself in defeat, while loudly showcasing a skill set Spence had previously dismissed as non-existent.
And they should do it again. Now.
“I'm the big fish,” declared Spence, during what ended up being a fiery post fight press conference. If Porter wasn't the draw leading up to this fight (and he wasn't), he is now at least looked upon with serious respect from the fanbase of “The Truth”, while causing that same base to now look at him with raised eyebrows and pursed lips. I'm a fan of his, and a bigger fan of the man; but if the Errol Spence Jr who fought Shawn Porter on September 28 is in the ring with Terence Crawford — he gets stopped.
DSG has been around for minute, and a year ago, he doesn't get in the ring to challenge EJ like that. Hell, Keith Thurman, largely seen as having avoided Spence, might've been caught on camera screaming at Spence:
“You better. Not. Duck me. Son.”
All jokes aside, legends are built on rematches. Boxing lore is rich with them. As Porter whispered loudly into the mic about a rematch, if I'm Spence, I thinking about what Floyd did when Jose Luis Castillo put up a performance to demand one. What Marcos Maidana did, to make Floyd be like: “Nah. We runnin that back.” Let Senator Manny Pacquiao, somewhere in Dubai camel racing with Amir Khan, confront the challenge of Danny Garcia. Mayweather's era really began — if we wanna tell “The Truth” about this, by cleaning up Castillo; just as it ended by rinsing off Maidana.
There's a mess to clean up on aisle 2, and you know where to find a Porter.