By Tom Donelson / Author, Member Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA)
The Welterweight division is the most competitive division in boxing today with every top fighter nearly equal to each other and when the elites of the division fight each other, it is often a dog fight. On September 28, 2019 at Staples Center, Los Angeles, California, Spence versus Porter was just like many of the key fights in the division over the past few years. It was a tight, tough event, not necessarily easy to score but in my view, the last two rounds determine the fight.
Spence is a technically sound fighter with all the classic tools that any boxer would want. He can box, move but he also has the power to stop an opponent. Porter is awkward fighter who bores in his opponent and throws punches from various angles and his punches are hard to always see coming. Both styles were on display and Spence found himself getting hit with punches he rarely got nailed with in past fights, but Porter also found that there were many moments in which Spence boxing skills diffuse his inside game. Another aspect of the fight was Spence ability to fight inside and this allowed to Spence to neutralize Porter. This showed up in the last two rounds.
The first round set the stage for the rest of the fight as Porter bulled his way and even landed a big right, but in the process got caught with jabs and a couple of effective Spence’s body shots. The firefight began in the second round as Porter’s attempts to bully his way into Spence’s midsection was greeted with body shots. Near the end of the round, Spence left uppercut landed and Porter landed a big right.
I had Spence winning the first three rounds but in the fourth, the tide ebbed toward Porter as he landed several hard shots against Spence. This continued into the fifth round as Porter landed uppercuts to go with left hooks and overhand rights. Spence started to look uncomfortable. The sixth round saw both fighters nail each other in a very competitive round.
Porter forced Spence to the rope as he pounded away and was getting the better of the exchanges in the seventh round. Throughout the eighth and ninth round, the rounds were tight but I gave the advantage to Porter. I had the fight even after ten rounds and other ringside observers were similar to my card. It was close and the final two rounds would decide the winner.
Spence landed a body shot and Porter countered with an uppercut and overhand right but then Spence landed the punch of the night as he sent Porter down with a straight left hand. Porter got back up and attempted to regain the advantages lost but this punch turned the fight not just on the scorecard but in the ring. Porter attempt to neutralized the knockdown came of no avail and Spence had a crucial 10-8 round.
The final round saw both fighters throwing haymakers, but Spence was the more effective puncher. Spence landed left hands while Porter threw right hands, and both connected. Spence at one time had Porter on the rope before Porter spin away. Spence won the final round on my card, but it was like the rest of the right, a gritty tough round. I had Spence winning by 115-112, similar to ESPN Dan Rafael and others. (Sporting News had it 114-113 for Spence.). The judges had it a split decision with two judges scoring it 116-111 for Spence and one having it 115-113 for Porter. While the majority of the scorecards favored Spence, a case could be made for Porter winning but the overall numbers as shown by Compubox favored Spence. This would indicate the 115-112 or 116-111 in Spence favor as the more correct number. For me the eleventh round decided the fight and the Spence knockdown was the most decisive blow.
Spence is the king of the Welterweight but only barely. He didn’t dominate Porter and over the horizon, there is the undefeated Terrace Crawford. Spence has plenty of great fights left including Garcia, Thurman and Crawford or even Pacquiao if team Pac Man is willing to allow the old fighter to take on the new guard.
As one individual on twitter reminded me, there are plenty of young welterweights waiting in the wing. So there are plenty of great fights left for matchmakers to make over the next two or three years.