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Spence survives gutcheck against Porter

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Every topflight fighter gets their trial of fire, that guy who is good enough to test him, but not beat him. For Sugar Ray Leonard, it was Wilfredo Benítez. For Oscar De La Hoya, it was Miguel Angel Gonzales. And for Errol Spence, it was Shawn Porter.

Over 16,000 fans came out to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to see if Porter, the reigning WBC welterweight titleholder had enough to test the IBF welterweight titlist Spence-undefeated, barely touched, and rated among the five best fighters in the world pound for pound. Given that Porter is now thirty-one years old and was coming off a disputed decision win over tough Cuban Yordenis Ugas, some were doubtful that he could provide real resistance to Spence.

But twelve rounds later, Porter had given Spence absolute hell, hitting Spence with 158 punches, easily the most punches Spence had taken in any fight in his career. Unfortunately for Porter, Spence landed 218 punches and scored a knockdown in the 11th round, doing enough to get a split decision victory. The scores were 116-111, twice, for Errol Spence, while another judge saw Porter winning the fight 115-112. Fightbooth had it 115-112 for Spence.

For the first two rounds, this looked like the majority of Spence’s fights as he came out, started backing Porter up with the jab and looked to land solid power punches. From the second round on, a key punch from Spence was a right hand to the body that he landed again and again and may have been significant in the fight.

It wasn’t until the third round that Porter really seem to get loose and start to land some combinations. After a really good fourth round for Porter, Spence tried to reassert himself in the fifth, but as the fight went on Spence was jabbing less and less and was content to languish on the inside with Porter, which is exactly what the two time world champion wanted…

The middle rounds of the fight were all Shawn Porter, as he dug to the body with combinations and simply outworked the younger champion, who for whatever reason spent most of these rounds standing right in front of Porter. Yes, Spence would eventually find angles and land some good shots, but Porter was just in his face, landing to the head and body. The eighth round was probably Porter’s best, as he wobbled Spence with a big left hand at one point.

Going into the ninth round, the fight was even and there was even an argument that Porter could have been ahead. Spence did what a champion is supposed to do and found another gear. He was able to create some distance and start to land more punches. He went to war with Porter in the ninth, making it one of the best rounds of the year so far. After Spence took the tenth, Porter tried to reassert himself in the 11th but he took a big left hand and went down. Porter still went out and attacked, but the damage was done.

Knowing he might need the 12th round, Spence came out landed his number of punches for the fight, landing nearly forty shots to the head and body of Porter. It was just the kind of thing you want to see from a fighter of his caliber.

The fans were so impressed by the effort of Porter than many cried afoul at the scoring, but the scores were right on. There were some close rounds that could have been given to Porter, but it a big time championship fight, the champion often gets the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, the man everyone wants Spence to fight is WBO welterweight champion Terrance Crawford, who seen by most to be no worst than the second best fighter in the world. But Crawford is promoted by the PBC’s arch-rival Top Rank, so that is seen as very hard to make. The bigger fight money wise and the easier fight to make is one with WBA titleholder and legend Manny Pacquiao, but that seems far away at this fight.

But the PBC looks to be going easy next, as former 140 and 147 pound titlist Danny Garcia came into the ring to challenge Spence next. Garcia lost a decision to Porter last September and for that, and many other reasons, this was seen as a disappointment to fans. Meanwhile, Porter will still have many options and after performance like this, there are many more fans interested in watching him. A rematch with Keith Thurman, coming off his lost to Pacquiao, makes a lot of sense.

Yet coming out of this, Errol Spence should be happy. He gets another title belt, he drew a nice house, and he showed he could find another gear against a very good champion. These are the fights that make a fighter great.

But damn, a Crawford-Spence fight would be sweet.

"Frank has been a wrestling fan since he was two years old. (Don't worry, he's got proof.) He's also a huge boxing and UFC fan and has a long standing love affair with Popeyes Chicken. He still owns a VHS copy of the first Ring of Honor show ever and was watching NXT before it was cool (or good). Bret Hart > Shawn Michaels. You can follow him on Twitter at @FightFanaticPod and on Tumblr at FrankTheFightFanatic." He's also starting his own podcast soon!

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