BOXING

Shawn Porter Wins Close One Over Danny Garcia, Aims to Unify With Errol Spence

Shawn Porter waited 49 months to regain a world title. Now that he finally has one again, he’s already ready to add a second.

Porter won the vacant WBC belt Saturday night with a unanimous decision over Danny Garcia in a close, competitive bout that very easily could’ve been scored a draw or perhaps even a narrow decision for Garcia.

The fight was so hard to score that the three judges only agreed on four of the 12 rounds — seeing Round 1 for Garcia, Round 4 for Porter, Round 6 for Porter and Round 7 for Porter.

But what was otherwise clear was that Garcia won the early rounds, forcing Porter to adjust his approach. The adjustment clearly worked. Garcia was forced into Porter’s style of fight, and Garcia was either unable to adjust or all too willing to acclimate himself to it, rather than dictating the action himself. He wasn’t dominating the action either. While Garcia had good moments, he didn’t do enough to separate himself from Porter in the eyes of the judges.

It didn’t seem like that would be the case after watching the opening rounds.

In a pre-fight interview, Showtime’s Jim Gray had asked Porter how he would make the Garcia fight “wild and sloppy,” assuming that Porter would utilize his usual approach, coming forward and trying to maul his opponent. Porter, however, seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t be doing so.

And indeed, the early action had Porter as more of a boxer than a bruiser, countering instead of clobbering. Garcia didn’t mind at all. He was able to land a good overhand right just before the end of Round 1 and buckled Porter’s knees with a big overhand right early in Round 3.

Porter realizes he needed to make a change and began to close the distance, throwing more on the inside, increasing his overall activity and, therefore, the pressure. While Garcia is a composed boxer and capable counter-puncher, he has shown a tendency to disappear when a competent opponent begins to take control. It is why many thought Mauricio Herrera deserved the nod against Garcia, and why Lamont Peterson would’ve beaten Garcia had Peterson not given up so many of the early rounds.

That’s not to say Garcia wasn’t doing anything against Porter. He was battling back and landing, even though he wasn’t hurting Porter anymore. He often just wasn’t doing enough to win rounds clearly for all of the judges to see and agree.

Porter’s activity won out over Garcia’s accuracy. CompuBox saw Porter throwing 742 punches, compared to 472 for Garcia. Porter was 134 of 544 with power shots, a 25 percent connect rate, while Garcia actually landed a few more while throwing far fewer, going 139 of 304 with power punches, a 46 percent connect rate.

Two judges had it 115-113, or seven rounds to Porter and five for Garcia. The other judge had it a little wider, 116-112, or eight rounds to four.

Porter improved to 29-2-1 with 17 knockouts. He also won the WBC world title that had been vacated by Keith Thurman, who hasn’t fought since topping Garcia via split decision in March 2017. Thurman, who still holds the WBA belt, has spent time recovering from elbow and hand injuries since then.

Porter previously held a world title from late 2013, when he defeated Devon Alexander, until the summer of 2014, when he lost to Kell Brook. Since then, he’s stopped Erick Bone, won a decision over Adrien Broner, dropped a close one to Thurman in a very good fight in 2016, stopped Andre Berto, and outpointed Adrien Granados.

Beating Garcia, a former 140- and 147-pound titleholder, is his biggest victory in some time. And it looks like it’ll land him an even bigger fight — a unification bout with Errol Spence.

Spence entered the ring during Porter’s post-fight interview. They exchanged pleasantries, and that’s not a euphemism. The two were respectful and polite, saying there should be little difficulty making a deal to meet and find out who is better.

Garcia is now 34-2 with 20 KOs. The disappointment on his face was obvious after the fight. He deserves another chance, just as Porter did after losing a close one to Thurman.

 

Yordenis Ugas Makes it Eight Straight, on Verge of Title Shot

A few years ago, you wouldn’t have been blamed for thinking that Yordenis Ugas was never going to be a contender.

He’d lost twice in a row, dropping a split decision to one junior welterweight prospect named Emanuel Robles and a unanimous decision to another prospect named Amir Imam. Those losses seemed a clear indicator of where Ugas belonged — and he didn’t seem to belong in the ring with the best in his division, which, well, Imam and (particularly) Robles weren’t.

So much can change in so little time. Ugas moved up from 140 to 147, scored upsets and other decent wins, put together eight straight victories and is now on the verge of fighting for a world title.

The latest win was a unanimous decision over Cesar Barrionuevo on the undercard of Shawn Porter vs. Danny Garcia. The win itself wasn’t overly meaningful, given the clear gap in talent between Ugas and Barrionuevo, and just how thin Barrionuevo’s record appeared to be. Yet it put Ugas in line for a shot at a world title or, barring that coming soon, a big fight against a more prestigious opponent at welterweight.

He was easily able to make Barrionuevo miss — Barrionuevo was just 111 of 593 on the night, according to CompuBox, landing just 19 percent of his shots. Ugas capably and consistently responded with combinations and counters to Barrionuevo’s body and, later, uppercuts upstairs. The scores were wide, two judges seeing it a shutout at 120-108, while the third judge found one round to give Barrionuevo, scoring the fight 119-109.

Aside from one moment in the eighth, when Ugas hurt Barrionuevo and then followed up with an extended and cartoonishly ineffective barrage, Ugas seemed content to go the distance and win the victory.

That didn’t make Ugas any more marketable, though that can be remedied the next time out.

Ugas is now second in line to fight for the title Porter won on Saturday night. He could be left waiting for a bit, but there are still plenty of other names he could end up facing who would present a much greater challenge than Barrionuevo did, including Lamont Peterson, Andre Berto, a returning Keith Thurman, or a rebounding Danny Garcia.

Ugas moved to 23-3 with 11 KOs. Barrionuevo fell to 34-4-2 with 24 KOs.

Amanda Serrano Enters Record Books With Title Win in Sixth Division

Amanda Serrano fended off a game challenge from Yamila Esther Reynoso, winning 99-91 (nine rounds to one) on all three judges’ scorecards and capturing a vacant world title at junior welterweight — marking the sixth division in which Serrano has won a belt.

And it’s been an unusual journey up and down through various weight classes, unlike the typical manner in which boxers start lower on the scale and then move up from division to division as they age and their bodies fill out.

Serrano won her first title back in 2011, making quick work of Kimberly Connor to capture a vacant belt in the 130-pound division. Her reign ended seven months later, when Serrano lost to Frida Wallberg. That’s still Serrano’s only pro defeat (she’s now 35-1-1 with 26 KOs).

 

Serrano knocked out Maria Elena Maderna in 2014 to win a title in the 135-pound division, then dropped back down in weight, and by early 2016 was at 126 pounds, where she needed less than two minutes to beat a mismatched opponent (17-15-12 Olivia Gerula) for a vacant belt.

That made it titles in three divisions. Serrano wasn’t done there. She wa down at 122 pounds before the end of the year, spending a mere 44 seconds dispatching Alexandra Lazar for another vacant belt. And then in April 2017, Serrano got her body down to bantamweight, the 118-pound division, stopping Dahiana Santana for a vacant tile.

In the span of 17 months, Serrano went from competing at 118 to fighting five divisions away in the 140-pound division. Even if you note the level of opposition and the fact that many of these titles were vacant — rather than taken from capable and established titleholders — what Serrano has done is still pretty impressive.

 

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

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