The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, hosted a PBC event this past Saturday night. The card was a long one – 14 fights were scheduled! This long-awaited main event was between two hot welterweights, and the WBC World welterweight title as well as the IBF World welterweight title were both on the line in this unification fight.
The undefeated Errol “The Truth” Spence, Jr. (26-0, 21 KOs) made his second defense of the WBC belt as he took on Shawn “Showtime” Porter (30-3-1, 17 KOs) in a fight that was scheduled to go 12 rounds. Porter was defending his IBF belt.
The first round proved nothing, as neither men did much work. They were way more active in the second round, but while they were throwing a lot more, there were not a lot of clean punches landed. In the third the men did a lot of fighting in a phone booth, as it were. They stayed in close quarters and both of them scored some points. These rounds have been hard to score thus far.
For two-and-a-half minutes of the fourth round porter was able to land on Spence almost at will. But then Errol scored with two very heavy shots. In the fifth Porter continued to be the one applying all of the pressure, chasing Spence for most of the round. in this round, Errol looked very uncomfortable and didn’t seem to know what to do.
Spence finally came out looking to do some real damage in the sixth round, and the two exchanged blows throughout the round. but in the seventh, Shawn was once again all over Spence like a blanket, landing nice little combinations on him. Errol was not allowed to breath in this round.
Porter fired off punches all the time, while Spence was much more conservative, but was able to land his power punches at a higher rate. This was the case in the eighth, and had been throughout most of the fight. In the ninth, both men landed a lot of leather on the other.
This fight was close, and both men had fought the last few rounds with an urgency that showed they knew that. Moving into the championship rounds, they were changing up nothing. Porter loved to get Spence on the ropes, but Errol would roll of and change places. But in the eleventh, Spence caught Shawn with a looping left hand that caused Porter’s glove to touch the canvas – knockdown for Errol.
We moved into the twelfth and final. Shawn was aggressive but much more wild then he had been, while Errol was landing a lot of his shots. We had to go to the scorecards. We had a split decision, as the judges saw the fight 116-111 for Porter and the other two had scores of 115-112 and 116-111 for Spence. Errol now holds both the WBC and IBF World welterweight titles. The scores themselves were questioned by many, but most agreed with the victory of Spence.
When asked at the post-fight press conference if Porter was the toughest opponent he has ever faced, Spence said, “It was definitely a tough fight, I knew that coming in. He’s a tough, rugged fighter; he always comes ready to fight, and that’s what I was looking for.
“I felt my body shots had an impact, but Shawn always comes in shape. I think he got a second wind later in the fight. But I’ve always been a body puncher. I think me and Shawn had a great fight, so we might do that again. We’ll see what happens.”
Shawn had this to say. “I think the fight played out about 90% the way we expected it to and wanted it to.” Then, looking at Errol, “I think the skills was a little bit better than you thought they were, what do you think?”
This elicited some laughter, then Spence replied, “Yeah, I…I, you’re more tough than skills, though.”
He then did acknowledge that Shawn did show more skill than he had anticipated, and admitted that he felt his power.
“I will thank (Errol) again, and again, and again; he did a fantastic job,” continued Porter. “But I just want you to know that nobody has ever come at him the way I did. You all just saw that. When I don’t win, I can’t make excuses. Others can say that, but not me. So, for me to say that was a robbery, you’re not gonna hear me say it. Sorry.
“I have heard that some are saying this might be the best performance of my career, and I think so. At least that’s what we were gong for, the best night of our lives. I still feel fantastic. (But) I did want to hand this man his first 0.”
The co-main event was between Anthony Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KOs) and the undefeated David Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs). This bout was for the WBC Super middleweight belt, which was held by Anthony, and was to go a scheduled 12 rounds. Not too much action in the first, as the fighters were deciding what the other had to offer.
That changed right away, as they came storming out in the second. Benavidez was the one taking early control. In the third David still held the reins, but Dirrell found a few answers. For the next couple of rounds Benavidez was continuing to lead the charge. He was landing on Anthony at a much greater rate than the other way around.
In the sixth, a big left hand by David landed, splitting open the right eyelid of Dirrell. This was a nasty cut. Referee Thomas Taylor had the ringside physician look at the eye toward the end of the sixth, during the seventh, and before the eighth. Each time the doctor said the fight could continue.
David had a target with that eye of Dirrell’s, and he was taking great aim on it. Finally, in the ninth round, the corner waved to Taylor, and the fight was stopped at 1:39 of that round. The title went back to Benavidez, who had lost it back in 2018 due to a positive drug test.
The vacant WBA Super lightweight championship was at stake as Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) looked to hold on to his undefeated record, as he went up against Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6 KOs). This fight was to go a scheduled 12 rounds. Fighters were primarily feeling each other out in the first round. The action picked up in the next two rounds. The taller Barrios was connecting with his jab, while Akhmedov was able to slip underneath and land shots of his own.
A little combination by Barrios in the fourth caused the gloves of Akhmedov to touch the canvas; just for a second, but that’s all it took to score that knockdown. The fifth round was by far the best one that we had seen from Batyr. Perhaps his trainer Joel Diaz laid down the law, but whatever happened, he looked much better.
In the next couple of rounds Batyr stayed on the attack. It was almost as if he now believed that Barrios didn’t have enough to power to hurt him. During the seventh round a cut opened up over the left eye of Mario. Once he made that aggressive turn back in round five, Akhmedov had stayed on offense and controlled the fight. It looked as if Barrios had no answers for Batyr’s attack.
Through round 10 now, and it has been all Akhmedov. Just when it seemed that Batyr was on his way to victory, a huge right hand by Barrios in the twelfth and final round made Akhmedov touch the canvas yet again. We went to scorecards. They read 114-112, 115-111 and 116-111, all for Barrios. But Batyr will be back. He made a lot of fans at Staples on this night, and they loudly booed those scores. Still, that vacant belt is now worn by Barrios.
The very likeable Josesito “Riverside Rocky” Lopez (37-8, 20 KOs) faced off against John Molina, Jr. (30-9, 24 KOs). This fight was scheduled for 10 rounds in the welterweight division. Molina has been known to look great at times, and at others he has appeared to not look good at all.
Watching Lopez drop Molina twice in the first round, once with a shot to the head, and the second time with a punishing body shot, tonight’s performance by John seemed to fall into the latter category. The second round saw John come back a little bit, but Josesito was still connecting with that right hand.
Round three was still controlled by Lopez. This was the case in the next several rounds as well. It wasn’t that Molina was not doing any work – he was. It’s just that Josesito was being much more accurate and controlling more of the fight. His aggression put John down once more, this time in the seventh round, but props to him, as he kept getting up and coming back.
Lopez was on the attack in the opening seconds of the eighth round, so much so that referee Ray Corona stepped in and stopped the fight at .39 of that round. Josesito looked very good in this victory.
Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (36-6-1, 20 KOs) battled Jerry Thomas (14-2-1, 8 KOs) in another welterweight bout that was slated to go 10 rounds. The battle-tested Guerrero was tested yet again as the fight went on. Thomas might be best known as a club fighter, but once he began to really fight back against Robert, he made things a bit difficult for the “Ghost”.
Unfortunately for Jerry, his attack was too little and too late. Guerrero had already made his presence known to the judges, and that showed in the scorecards. They read 99-91 twice and 98-92, all for Robert. But just where Guerrero goes from here is anyone’s guess. Even though those scores look great on paper, most feel that he might be destined to be a gatekeeper from here on out.
Undefeated super welterweights were next, when Joey Spencer (9-0, 7 KOs) faced off against Travis Gambardella (5-1-2, 2 KOs) in a fight scheduled for four rounds. Spencer put Gambardella on the canvas twice in that opening round with devastating body shots, and might have gone for three if the bell had not ended the three minutes. In the first few seconds of the next round, several punches by Joey were followed up by a right hand that put Travis down again. But he got up and fought his way out of the round.
In the third round however, Gambardella was taking a lot of punishment, and at .53 seconds of round three, referee Ray Corona decided he had seen enough and waved the fight off. Travis suffered his first loss, while Joey grabbed another victory.
Jose Valenzuela (5-0) took on Charles Clark (2-5-1) in a super featherweight fight that was scheduled for four rounds. This fight took no time at all, as a huge right hand by Valenzuela crumbled Clark to the canvas. Referee White saw no reason to count, and the fight was waved off at 1:06 of the very first round.
Misael Rodriguez (10-0, 5 KOs) faced off against Brandon Maddox (7-3-1. 5 KOs). This fight was in the middleweight division, and was slated for eight rounds. Rodriguez came to fight and proved that from the opening bell. He punished Maddox for almost three rounds with his brutal punches until the corner yelled for the fight to be stopped. Rodriguez was declared the winner by knockout when referee Gerard White waved it off at 1:43.
Argentina’s Fabian Maidana (17-1, 13 KOs) and younger brother of Marcos “Chino” Maidana, came to battle Ramses Agaton (21-11-3, 11 KOs). These were welterweights in a fight that was scheduled to last eight rounds. Eight rounds were not needed; not even close. After Fabian knocked Ramses down three times in that first round, Maidana won by knockout as referee Taylor called a halt to the contest at 2:01.
Super welterweights came up next in this fight that was scheduled for eight rounds, as Leon Lawson III (12-0, 5 KOs) faced off opposite Alan Zavala (15-6, 13 KOs). Lawson dominated this one, and it took him two rounds to figure out just how to finish Zavala off; by keeping him on the ropes and keeping on the attack. In that second round Larson dropped Zavala who never tried to get up. He was counted out by referee Thomas Taylor at 2:27 of round two.
Amon Rashidi (7-1, 5 KOs) faced off against Alfonso Olvera (12-6-3, 4 KOs) in a bout scheduled for eight in the welterweight division. Rashidi was quite accurate with his combinations, while Olvera would connect with hard punches that seemed to come out of left field. The fight did go the distance, and we went to the scorecards. They were all in favor of Olvera, with scores of 78-74, and 79-73 twice, handing Rashidi his first loss with that unanimous decision.
Featherweights took to the ring when Fernando Garcia (12-2, 7 KOs) took on Juan Antonio Lopez (15-7, 6 KOs) in a fight that was scheduled for eight rounds. These two provided a lot of action for those early fans that were in attendance, with each fighter showing moments of good work.
At some point midway through the bout, Garcia suffered a cut on his nose, but that did nothing to slow him down. Still, the skill of Lopez was not lost on the judges. When we went to the scorecards, they were 79-73 twice and 77-75, all for Lopez. He took home the victory with that unanimous decision.
Burley Brooks (4-0, 4 KOs) took on fellow light heavyweight Fabian Valdez (3-6) in a fight that was scheduled for six rounds. This opening bout didn’t take up too much time, as Brooks put Valdez down four times in that very first round before referee Ivan Guillermo finally waved the fight off at 2:35. Brooks broke Valdez down with his punishing body shots, finishing the job with a left hand.
After the last fight was over there was the swing bout that featured Lindolfo Delgado (11-0, 11 KOs) facing off against Jesus Zazueta Anaya (6-5-1, 4 KOs) in a super lightweight contest that was scheduled for eight rounds. It only took six for Delgado to add another victory by knockout to his resume.
In all we did see quite a few good and entertaining fights, and a lot of knockouts and knockdowns. There were certainly some fighters we would love to see again, and the possibility of a rematch after that main event spins.
All photos courtesy of Cynthia Saldana
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