It’s unanimous! Everyone from BE is picking Errol Spence Jr to become a unified welterweight champion over Shawn Porter in Saturday’s main event, while everyone is also going with super-middleweight sensation David Benavidez to recapture the WBC title against Anthony Dirrell.
We have added a couple of picks from the Bad Left Hook staff to further flesh things out, including a shock Porter selection from Scott Christ.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Errol Spence Jr vs. Shawn Porter - IBF/WBC welterweight unification bout
Mookie Alexander: Porter is an admirable fighter because he’s always willing to face the top opponents, regardless of name value. His tough, rugged style is tough for most to handle (Keith Thurman included), but Spence is a HUGE welterweight who cuts a significant amount of weight. I don’t think it’ll be easy for Porter to just try and bully Spence around. Porter is at a technical and power disadvantage, Spence is more effective and capable of pressuring footwork, and his jab and body shots go a long way towards breaking his opponents down. We’ve not really seen Porter hurt that often -- Adrian Broner floored him in the final round of an ugly fight Porter clearly won -- but Spence for my money is the best boxer he’s faced, and after a slow, cagey start I see Spence finding his range and Porter is going to be both outboxed and outmuscled as the fight progresses.
Lucas Bourdon: Porter is a tough out for most at welterweight and should make Spence work a bit but I don’t see how anyone at welterweight not named Terence Crawford beats Spence. Errol Spence Jr by unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: There’s definitely a way Shawn Porter wins this. He gets inside, he cheats a little, he fights rough, he makes it a scrap. That’s not a kind of fight Spence has a tremendous amount of experience with, and it’s a fight Porter is very good at. The trouble is, Porter hasn’t shown an ability to make his fight happen against serious top level talents. Kell Brook took him out of it, and Keith Thurman took him out of it, and for my money, Errol Spence is better than either of those fighters. I do think Porter will make him work - if it’s as much a cakewalk for Spence as it was against Garcia, that will speak volumes about Spence. But Spence will just land more and get the points. So some drama, some ugliness from Porter that gives him a few rounds, but enough technical skill on display from Spence to take it home. Errol Spence, UD
Scott Christ (BLH): Rocky Balboa is one of my favorite boxing movies. It’s where Stallone abandoned all the increasing cartoonish qualities of Rocky II through Rocky V and got back to the heart and soul of who Rocky Balboa was as a character. Sadly, he didn’t do the same with John Rambo in Last Blood, which I saw in the theater last weekend, hoping it would be more First Blood than the dopey Rambo sequels that followed. Rocky in Rocky Balboa battled Mason Dixon with “good old-fashioned blunt force trauma.” Porter’s not a particularly huge puncher, but what he can do is get rugged. Sap the fight from Spence.
Anyway, listen — this is not a good pick I’m about to make. By all rights, Errol Spence should beat Shawn Porter. He’s longer, taller, a little younger, a little less beaten up, and just a better boxer. If Shawn Porter “boxes” like he did against Yordenis Ugas, Spence is gonna beat him 12-0 or knock him out. If Shawn Porter relentlessly mauls and grinds and roughs Spence up, could be a different story. I’m a lover of “dirty boxing,” of the sort of game plan Shawn Porter has used in his best performances. He’s as burly as you can be at 5’7”, 147 pounds. He can be mean. Nasty. And if he does that — and I hope he does, because it’ll make for the best possible fight — this is going to be a fight that truly tests Errol Spence like never before. If Porter can drag Spence into his sort of fight, if he executes that game plan, he’s got a shot. And I’m picking it him to grind one out against a fighter who may be getting just a bit ahead of himself with these P4P prognostications and praises. Smart money says I’m wrong, but to hell with smart money. (Don’t bet on my pick, seriously, your wife will hate you on Sunday. After all these years, I still just like to get excited about a big fight.) Shawn Porter SD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg (BLH): I will always respect fighters who know how to roughhouse properly. There’s a legitimate art to it beyond just charging in head-first and hoping the referee is either an idiot or understands that you’re the A-side and treats your indiscretions appropriately. Denigrating Porter’s success on the basis of him being a mauling sort of bruiser is misguided; his style offsets his technical limitations and allows him to give ostensibly superior boxers fits.
Spence is just so damn good, though. I can’t see Porter wading through that sort of firepower all night, nor can I see him successfully bullying Spence into the ropes long enough to get any meaningful work done. Just being tough as nails isn’t enough for Porter to bridge this sort of gap. To his detriment, he’ll probably stay on his feet for all 12, but Spence should dominate. Spence UD-12
Staff picking Spence: Ed, Mookie, Stephie, Lucas, Fraser, Patrick (BLH)
Staff picking Porter: Scott (BLH)
Staff picking draw:
Anthony Dirrell vs. David Benavidez - WBC super-middleweight title
Mookie Alexander: Benavidez has legitimate potential to be one of the biggest stars in boxing. He is exceptionally talented and about as TV friendly as it gets, as he keeps a high workrate and loves to go to the body and work in combinations. I actually prefer watching Anthony Dirrell than Andre, but a close quarters, grueling fight against Avni Yildrim that could’ve gone either way does not inspire much confidence that he’ll keep his title. Benavidez can leave himself open defensively at times, but I don’t see how Anthony deals with the physical disadvantage or the power that David possesses. David Benavidez by KO, round 10.
Fraser Coffeen: On the flipside, here’s a fight where I just don’t see a path to a Dirrell victory. If Benavidez comes in as “on” and focused as he was against J’Leon Love, he takes this. If not, I still think he has enough of an edge to win in a more dull fight. I’ll go with option A. David Benavidez, KO, Round 8
Wil Esco: I give full credit to Anthony Dirrell for reclaiming a world title at age 34, when I thought he was just about done. Sure, he’s won six fights in a row since dropping a decision to Badou Jack in 2015, but half those fights weren’t all that compelling matchups if we’re being honest. Unfortunately I think the buck stops here for Dirrell, who will now be running into a big, strong, and young super middleweight in David Benavidez. Dirrell certainly has some boxing ability, but I have serious questions about whether or not he’ll be able to keep up with the sustained pressure I expect Benavidez, 22, to put on him. If Benavidez pours it on Dirrell and makes him feel his age, I think Dirrell could break down in the second half. At that point I think Dirrell is still a wily-enough veteran that might be able to make it through the final bell, but he might have to take some real punishment in order to do so. Benavidez UD-12
Staff picking Dirrell:
Staff picking Benavidez: Ed, Mookie, Stephie, Lucas, Fraser, Wil (BLH)
Staff picking draw:
Who wins the main event?
This poll is closed
Spence by KO
Porter by KO
Spence by decision
Porter by decision