This Saturday, boxing returns to PPV for a Welterweight title unification fight as IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. (25-0; 21 KO) faces WBC champ Shawn Porter (30-2-1; 17 KO). Spence vs. Porter is live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles this Saturday, September 28, airing live on PPV with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET. The PPV is presented by Fox and PBC and carries a price tag of $74.99
Errol Spence, Jr.
- King of the Hill - Welterweight is a stacked division, with these two, Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao, and Terence Crawford all vying for supremacy. And right now, I think you have to say Spence stands at the top, coming in off a good win over Mikey Garcia. The question is: can he become the true king and unify the division? If the winner here fights Manny Pacquiao (highly possible!) and then Terence Crawford (much less likely), it unifies one of the sport’s toughest divisions.
- Star power? - The most surprising thing about that Garcia win is not that Spence won, it’s that he brought so many viewers to the table. I will freely admit I thought it would bomb as a PPV, but it pulled in a reported 360,000. Compare that to the reports that Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan did just 150,000, and you’ve got a strong case for Spence’s rising popularity. We’ll see if that continues here.
- The skills - A former Olympian, Spence is just a supremely skilled technical boxer. But he also combines that with real power and an excellent ability to end fights. Garcia made the final bell, but he was the first opponent to do so since Spence was fighting in 10 round fights all the way back in 2014.
- Coming back - Boxing has become a sport where any loss is seen as terrible, and a sure sign that a fighter is a “bum.” Porter has avoided that, losing to Kell Brook and Keith Thurman (and drawing with Julio Diaz) but managing his way back to the world title level every time, including a win over Danny Garcia two fights ago. That’s a testament to his dedication, and is sadly rare in today’s landscape. At the same time, he’s never quite made it to the very top - can he get there this time?
- Which style? - There are different ways Porter fights, depending on how he perceives the match-up. At times, you get a more technical fighter, looking to box his way to victory. At other times, you get a real rough-and-tumble fighter who wants to get inside, make it a gritty battle, bite down, and muscle his way to victory. Given Spence’s height and reach advantage, and his technical acumen, you have to think option 2 is the wiser choice here.
- The judges - For Porter to win, he’s going to need to impress the judges, as he is not much of a finisher (only one stoppage in his last five wins, and that came against poor Andre Berto). And given that he often uses that somewhat unconventional and at times ugly style, that’s not always easy. Win, lose, or draw, Porter fights that go the distance tend to be pretty close, with him winning on inches. Will that be enough to beat the A side? It wasn’t against Thurman.
- Weight issues - Porter had a tough time making weight last time out, just barely getting there for his fight with Yordenis Ugas. He won that fight, but it was a close split decision, and Porter didn’t look fantastic - it’s easy to guess that the weight cut left him drained. If he doesn’t come in his physical best here, Spence will carve him up.
What else is on the card?
- Anthony Dirrell (33-1-1; 24 KO) vs. David Benavidez (21-0; 18 KO) - This is a Super Middleweight title fight between two of the division’s top 5. Dirrell is currently on a 6-0 run after a 2015 loss to Badou Jack. The undefeated Benavidez missed a year of action in 2018, then returned in March on the Spence vs. Garcia PPV and absolutely thrashed J’Leon Love. You have to favor him here.
- Mario Barrios (24-0; 16 KO) vs. Batyr Akhmedov (7-0; 6 KO) - Solid fight at 140 lbs. between undefeated contenders. Barrios obviously has the experience edge, and some strong recent wins, but Akhmedov has fought a solid level of competition for someone just 7-0. I’m not sure this is really a $75 PPV kind of fight, but it has potential to be quite good.
- Josesito Lopez (36-8; 19 KO) vs. John Molina Jr. (30-8; 24 KO) - If you crave divisional relevance, this is not for you. But for just a fight between two veteran who like to scrap, this is quality stuff. I’m always in for a Lopez fight, and Molina will be a game opponent. Lopez comes in here after coming inches from upsetting Keith Thurman, while Molina’s last win came in 2017.
I’ve been firmly in the “Spence is something special” camp since the moment I saw on on ShoBox years ago. He has yet to fully reach his potential, largely because of some cautious match-making, but he also is yet to give an indication that he is not that special talent. I fully expect him to be the better boxer and take this. That said, there certainly is a path to a Porter win - make Spence uncomfortable, fight a bit dirty on the inside, and grind. I see him succeeding at that plan enough to make this an ugly, close fight, but not enough to win the cards.
Prediction: Errol Spence, UD