When Errol Spence, Jr. and Shawn Porter take to the ring Saturday night, they will be fighting to unify two of boxing’s Welterweight titles live on PPV. That main event caps off a four fight PPV. As is pretty much always the case with boxing, it’s a top-heavy PPV, though this one has a bit more of note in the undercard than some. Here’s a look at the rest of the PPV card:
Anthony Dirrell (33-1-1; 24 KOs) vs. David Benavidez (21-0; 18 KOs)
The co-main event is a Super Middleweight (168 lbs.) world title fight with champion Dirrell defending the WBC belt against Benavidez. Though Dirrell is the champion, it’s Benavidez who is higher ranked and the favorite. The undefeated Benavidez is actually the former WBC champ, winning the belt in 2017. At the time, he was a super hot rising fighter to watch. But a 2018 failed VADA test for cocaine saw him stripped of the belt and out of action for a year. He returned in March on the Spence vs. Garcia PPV and wiped out J’Leon Love in 2 rounds, making it clear he was still a force in the division.
Dirrell was supposed to challenge Benavidez before that suspension, so instead fought for and won the vacant title against Avni Yildirim in February. A 14 year pro, Dirrell has long been “in the mix.” This is his 2nd time as champ in the division, though he’s never truly been “the man.” He’s four years and six fights removed from his lone loss to Badou Jack, and at 34, this feels like his likely last run at the top. A native of Flint, MI, Dirrell and his brother have been vocal in their support of their hometown during their ongoing water crisis.
This is Benavidez’s fight to lose. If he comes in at all like he did against Love, he rolls to victory here. If his head is not in the game, he still probably wins a dull fight, even though Dirrell is a savvy opponent.
Prediction: David Benavidez, KO
Mario Barrios (24-0; 16 KOs) vs. Batyr Akhmedov (7-0; 6 KOs)
This is, in theory, for some version of WBA’s Super Lightweight (140 lbs.) title. Neither man is in the top 10, and it’s not really a world title fight, but it is the fight with the highest potential to steal the show as it features two undefeated fighters, with the winner announcing his entry as a real player in the division. Barrios is the more experienced pro, as he has been steadily brought up the PBC ranks so far. He’s 24 years old and a 6 year pro, and getting his biggest shot here. Akhmedov fights out of Russia and is 28. He competed in the 2016 Olympics, then went pro in 2017. He’s fought mainly in Russia, though has won in the US twice before. He’s just 7-0, so is not fighting super top level talent yet, but his resume is better than your average 7-0, 2 year pro. Like Barrios, he’s got his biggest opportunity here. I’m excited for this one, though with both men stepping up, any pick is a bit of a shot in the dark.
Prediction: Mario Barrios, Dec
Josesito Lopez (36-8; 19 KOs) vs. John Molina, Jr. (30-8; 24 KOs)
Now this is what I’m talking about. If you are looking for action fighters, this is the fight for you, with two men who have been in some serious wars. More often then not, it’s been these two who have come up on the losing side of those wars (as their records indicate), but good match-making doesn’t just mean elite fighter vs. elite fighter. These two should be pretty evenly matched and are likely to ignite fireworks in each other.
That said, Lopez is definitely the more sensible choice and the one who seems to have more in the tank at this point. His biggest career win came in 2012 when he memorably upset Victor Ortiz. That propelled him to a fight with then then rising Canelo just before Canelo achieved true megastar status. Lopez’s last fight breathed new life into his career as he very nearly pulled off a 2nd massive upset, almost stopping Keith Thurman earlier this year and effectively ending the talk of Thurman as Welterweight king.
Molina’s big run came in 2014-2016, with memorable fights against the likes of Lucas Matthysse and Terence Crawford. In there, he scored his career best win, defeating Ruslan Provodnikov in a terrific fight. But that fight was three years ago and he’s only 1-2 since. He sat out all of 2018 before returning in February and looking out of his league against Omar Figueroa.
Molina is notoriously tough, though Lopez has good hands. But unless Molina is more shot that I anticipate (and, to be clear, he could be) I see him hanging tough in there, but getting outpointed. Hope for a war here folks.
Prediction: Josesito Lopez, Dec
Spence vs. Porter airs live on PPV this Saturday, September 28 with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET. BloodyElbow will have live coverage all night.