BOXING

Errol Spence Dominates Peterson, Calls Out Keith Thurman

“The Truth” Hurts: Errol Spence Proves Too Much For Lamont Peterson

Errol Spence and Lamont Peterson first shared the ring years ago, sparring together when Spence was a highly regarded amateur and Peterson was an experienced pro and a respected junior welterweight contender

“It was a learning experience,” Spence said recently.

“I was a young guy when Lamont was giving me advice,” he said. “Now we’ve gotten to this point.”

This point was the two of them sharing a ring in earnest, with greater stakes on the line and their friendship put aside for the moment.

Spence has progressed well beyond the fighter he was in 2011. Peterson knew that would be the case — “I knew he would be a champ,” he said — but on Saturday night he learned just how much better Spence has become.

Spence’s nickname is “The Truth,” a nickname that seems appropriate after his last two performances. He traveled to the United Kingdom last year to unseat titleholder Kell Brook. And he dazzled against Peterson, demonstrating an impressive arsenal, utilizing plenty of speed, power and damaging combinations en route to a seventh-round technical knockout.

Spence kept Peterson at bay in the first round with southpaw jabs upstairs and hard left crosses to the body. Peterson closed the range in the second round, yet Spence was winning on the inside and mid-range as well, dishing out hard blows and handling those that Peterson distributed.

Spence has a varied arsenal, mixing up what he throws and where he throws them, all while sending out several shots at a time. With about a minute to go in the second, Spence sent out a left uppercut, followed up with a right hook to the body, then sent a right and a left upstairs looping around Peterson’s gloves. Peterson was soon backing up, needing a momentary respite.

Peterson showed his resolve, however, increasing his activity in the third round and landing some flush blows. By the fourth, though, it was Spence once again beating Peterson to the punch, landing first and often evading Peterson’s retorts. Peterson was in a tough position; he had to be mindful and protect himself given what he was in against, yet doing so meant that Spence was dictating — and dominating — the action. Through four rounds, Peterson had thrown just 82 punches, landing 24, according to CompuBox. Spence had more than tripled that output, throwing 293 shots and landing 82.

Spence was landing more than half of his power punches. They began to take a toll.

 

Spence got Peterson’s attention with hard shots at the end of the fourth. Peterson was mostly covering up in the opening minute of the fifth. Spence circumvented that defense, going around Peterson’s guard with a right hook to the ear and then a left hand to the side of the head. Peterson went down. He rose quickly, a gutty fighter who was there to compete but just couldn’t be competitive against someone like Spence.
Spence continued to come forward, picking Peterson apart. Peterson tried to load up on his punches to stem the tide. Spence had little trouble blocking or avoiding most of them, absorbing the rest.

In the fifth as well as the sixth, Peterson would land a clean shot or two, only to have Spence walk through them. Then Spence would strike back with blows that had far more effect.

Peterson’s corner noticed the disparity as well. They also saw Peterson’s eye swelling up.

“I don’t like it,” trainer Barry Hunter told Peterson after the sixth. “Too much damn heart for your own good.”

Peterson told Hunter that he still had some fight left in him. He didn’t show enough in the seventh round for Hunter to allow Peterson to continue.

“It was really hard, but if you know Lamont, you know he was not going to give up,” Hunter said afterward. “I had to stop it. … There’s nothing more valuable than his well-being. If it comes to him or winning, I pick him. I care about him.”

It was the right choice. Spence was just too good, too much for Peterson to overcome.

Spence improved to 23-0 with 20 knockouts. He proceeded to call out Keith Thurman, who unified a pair of world titles in 2017 with a victory over Danny Garcia but has been out since with an injury. Thurman anticipates coming back this year with a tune-up fight. Spence doesn’t want to be kept waiting for long.

“Since I was 15-0 I’ve been calling this guy out, and he keeps making excuses,” Spence said afterward. “Let’s get it on. He has two of the belts and we both have big names. It’s an easy fight to make and I want it.”

Boxing fans are also longing for a fight between Spence and Terence Crawford, the rising 140-pound champion and pound-for-pound great who is making his move into the 147-pound division. That fight is less likely to happen, as usual a casualty of boxing politics.

There are other bouts that could be made while Spence stays busy, or at least busier than last year, when he fought just once. Shawn Porter and Jessie Vargas, like Spence, are signed with manager Al Haymon.

Peterson, meanwhile, falls to 35-4-1 with 17 KOs. He won’t ever be the best welterweight so long as Spence is around. He’s turning 34 years old this week. He’ll have to decide whether he wants to fight on after more than 13 years in the pro ranks or if the time bring his career to a close is near, if not already here.

Robert Easter Wins Debatable Split Decision Over Javier Fortuna

Robert Easter wants the big names at lightweight — namely Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares — not opponents like the man he faced Saturday night, Javier Fortuna.

“I want to fight the champions and unify these belts,” Easter said afterward. “Fights like these aren’t in my game plan.”

But Easter needs to do better in fights like these if he’s to convince us that he stands a chance against fighters like Garcia and Linares. Easter struggled against Fortuna en route to a debatable split decision win.

The fight actually would’ve been a split draw had Fortuna not been docked a point for a foul in the second round.

That round began with Fortuna warned for holding Easter behind the head while launching several shots. Later on, Fortuna socked Easter with several blows behind the head. He didn’t yet know it, but that would be a pivotal moment.

Fortuna found more success with legal punches toward the end of the third, backing Easter up after a couple of good left hands. In the fourth, Fortuna used his movement to dodge a lot of Easter’s offense, getting in to score and then getting back out. Easter was better able to walk Fortuna down in the fifth, targeting his body and trying to slow him down. Fortuna wasn’t going away, however. Toward the end of the sixth, Easter landed a good right hand and Fortuna retaliated immediately with a short left hand that stunned Easter and forced him to retreat
That above description makes the fight sound more exciting than it actually was. In truth, it wasn’t the most pleasing to the eye, though it thankfully still wasn’t the ugliest of fights. Easter’s offense was often ineffective. Fortuna, meanwhile, was picking his spots.

So it was appreciated when some sustained action broke out early in the 10th, and when the fighters exchanged for a little on the ropes in the 11th, and when they traded again in the first half of the 12th.

In the end, the judges disagreed on what they saw. One had it 114-113 for Fortuna, seven rounds to five with a point deducted for the foul. One had it 115-112 for Easter, seven rounds to five. And the third judge had it 114-113 for Easter — six rounds apiece, but the deduction marking the difference between a split draw and the eventual split decision victory for Easter.

(Fortuna couldn’t have won the world title even if he’d won on the scorecards, as he came in overweight.)

Easter is now 21-0 with 14 KOs. This was the third defense of a world title he won in a close action fight against Richard Commey back in 2016. His first two defenses were a clear victory over unheralded Luis Cruz and a fun decision over Denis Shafikov.

Fortuna is now 33-2-1 with 23 KOs. His other loss came via TKO against Jason Sosa down at junior lightweight in 2016. He’d bounced back with four victories since. Fortuna called for a rematch with Easter. It’s unlikely that’ll happen, despite the close decision, unless Easter is unable to get fights with the likes of Garcia and Linares.

Marcus Browne TKOs Ntetu in Two Minutes, Ready For Top Opposition

It’s clear what Marcus Browne can do against lesser opposition. That much was evident yet again on Saturday night, when he blasted out Francy Ntetu in 135 seconds.

It remains to be seen what Browne can do against the best light heavyweights in the world. That’s what needs to come next. Fighters at or near the top of the 175-pound division will present much more of a challenge than Ntetu did.

Browne had the fight in his hands nearly from the get-go, dropping Ntetu with a pair of hooks to the head about halfway into the first round. Ntetu got up on weak legs and had little to offer while Browne sought to close the show. The referee soon jumped in, ending the mismatch and preventing Ntetu from taking further punishment.

Ntetu is now 17-2 with 4 KOs. His other loss came in 2016 in a competitive fight with David Benavidez, who’s since gone on to win a super middleweight world title. Ntetu had fought most of his career at 168, and he hasn’t exhibited overly heavy hands in his career, so he was coming into this fight both undersized and underpowered.

Browne moves to 21-0 with 16 KOs. There are many who believe he should have a loss on his record, that he benefited from a robbery victory over Radivoje Kalajdzic nearly two years ago.

He’s looked much better since. There are good reasons for that.

“I stopped playing and I take everything serious now — my eating habits, the way I train leading up to a fight, my relationship with my trainers, listening,” Browne told Thomas Gerbasi of BoxingScene.com ahead of the Ntetu fight. “Everything’s falling into place, and it’s showing. I’m growing as a man in the sport.”

Over the past 11 months, Browne has dispatched Thomas Williams Jr. and then obliterated Seanie Monaghan and Ntetu. Williams had at least once troubled the likes of lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. Monaghan and Ntetu meant little beyond being paydays, stay-busy fights that helped accentuate that Browne needs to be in against better opposition.

Fortunately, that’s also what he wants.

“I need a world title shot,” he said after the Ntetu fight. “I’m ready to take on any of the champions.”

Browne actually could’ve fought 175-pound contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk in an elimination bout for a title shot. That would be a tough challenge, but it seems as if his team would rather maneuver him another route — toward fights with the likes of Stevenson, Badou Jack, Artur Beterbiev or Eleider Alvarez.

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman. David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and "Fighting Words" columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book "Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing." Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

Comments