BOXING

Spence Notches Quick KO, Looks to Unify at Welterweight

Errol Spence Sends Hometown Crowd Home Happy, KOs Ocampo in One

Errol Spence deserved a showcase. Now he deserves a showdown.

Spence defended his welterweight title with an easy night at the office Saturday, dispatching overmatched Carlos Ocampo with a body shot knockout as the first round came to a close.

Ocampo was undefeated coming into this bout, but he’d also never been in the ring with anyone close to Spence’s level, never mind anyone on the level of the fighters Spence has been facing and beating lately. Nevertheless, Ocampo was somehow rated No. 3 by the International Boxing Federation and had someone been named the mandatory challenger to Spence’s title.

This was a showcase for Spence, who was fighting in Texas — where he lives — for just the fifth time in a pro career that began in 2012. Three of those bouts were early in his career in San Antonio. Spence is from a city outside of Dallas. He was featured in a show there in 2015, back when he was an up-and-coming contender. This was his first fight in the Lone Star State since winning a world title from Kell Brook last year. (His first defense, a stoppage of Lamont Peterson, came in New York City this past January.)

And this Texas showcase was quite the spotlight, coming in the practice facility used by the Dallas Cowboys, attracting approximately 14,000 fans.

Spence didn’t take long to give them something to cheer for.

He and Ocampo traded body blows around the midpoint of the first round. Spence continued to attack the body, which is where he targeted 13 of his 16 landed power punches on the night, according to CompuBox. With Ocampo on the ropes in the final seconds of Round 1, Spence sent out a southpaw jab upstairs and followed with a left to the body. Ocampo came forward to try to tie up. Spence pushed him away to create more distance, then sent out a hard left hand and a good right hand, both to the body.

Ocampo dropped to his knees, leaned forward and put his head down on the canvas. He didn’t beat the count, and in fact would remain down for some time. He’s now 22-1 with 13 knockouts.

“That was my game plan,” said Spence, who is now 24-0 with 21 KOs. “I’m the body-snatcher.”

It was a nice payday in a main event spot. But Spence deserves better from here on out. He’s considered one of the best 147-pounders in the world. He should be in with some of the others.

The first thought goes to Terence Crawford, the phenomenally talented three-division titleholder who just moved up to this weight class and dethroned Jeff Horn. They have different promotional allegiances, however, and any fight between the two of them will likely need more time to build into an even bigger event.

Keith Thurman, meanwhile, has been off with injuries for some time. And so the attention turns to the winner of an upcoming fight for the belt Thurman recently vacated — Shawn Porter vs. Danny Garcia, which is scheduled for this August.

“We both have the same management. We both fight on SHOWTIME. Why not make that happen?” Spence said. “I definitely want that fight whenever it’s available.”

That fight wouldn’t become available until 2019, so Spence will have at least one more opponent before then.

A look at the IBF rankings shows Yordenis Ugas in line for a fight with Spence. Ugas appeared on the undercard of Spence-Ocampo, making quick work of designated opponent Jonathan Batista with a second-round stoppage.

Ugas is 22-3 with 11 KOs. His defeats came against Johnny Garcia in 2012, early in Ugas’ career, and then to Emmanuel Robles and Amir Imam in 2014. Since then, Ugas has rolled off seven straight wins, including a decision over Thomas Dulorme and a technical knockout of Ray Robinson.

He, too, hasn’t faced anyone on Spence’s level. But he looks like he could give Spence a decent challenge, which is more than what Ocampo was able to bring to the table on Saturday night.

Angel Acosta Retains Title With 12th-Round TKO of Buitrago

Junior flyweight titleholder Angel Acosta has still knocked out everyone he’s ever defeated, though it took longer than usual Saturday night, when he notched the first defense of his belt with a 12th-round stoppage of contender Carlos Buitrago.

Acosta, now 18-1 with 18 KOs, had come up short in his first title shot last year, losing a unanimous decision to a very good fighter named Kosei Tanaka. But when Tanaka opted to leave the 108-pound division behind in favor of competing at 112, Acosta was able to capitalize. He fought Juan Alejo for the vacant belt last December, winning the title with a 10th-round knockout.

He’s in a good division, sharing the spotlight with unified titleholder Hekkie Budler and undefeated beltholder Ken Shiro, plus former titleholders and contenders such as Ryoichi Taguchi, Milan Melindo, Rey Loreto, Jose Argumedo, and Byron Rojas.

Buitrago, now 30-4-1 with 17 KOs, is a perpetual bridesmaid, having come up short in his time int he 105-pound division in a draw with Merlito Sabillo, two losses to Knockout CP Freshmart, and Hiroto Kyoguchi. That pattern continues at 108.

Daniel Roman Defends Title with Impressive Decision Over Moises Flores

 Junior featherweight titleholder Daniel Roman made the most of the opportunity afforded him on Saturday night, appearing in the co-feature bout just before the Spence-Ocampo main event.

Showtime executives were already familiar with Roman. He’d appeared last year on the network’s “ShoBox” series, which tends to spotlight prospects and young contenders. Once again, he gave the powers-that-be good reason to have him back. And he impressed the viewing audience as well, taking a well-fought unanimous decision over 122-pound contender Moises Flores.

After last year’s “ShoBox” appearance, Roman went on to a title shot in Japan, where he stopped Shun Kubo. He returned to the Land of the Rising Sun earlier this year, making his first defense with a wide decision over Ryo Matsumoto.

Flores was expected to be a good test for Roman. He’d defeated Oscar Escandon in 2015 and beaten Paulus Ambunda in 2016. Flores had also briefly shared the ring last year with Guillermo Rigondeaux, a fight that ended in the first round — or rather just after the first round, with Rigondeaux dropping Flores hard after the bell. That bout was ultimately ruled a no contest. Flores didn’t fight again for nearly a year. The layoff didn’t do him any good. Flores came in overweight for the Roman bout and wasn’t eligible to win the belt.

Roman passed this test with flying colors. He faced relentless pressure from Flores, who threw more than 1,000 punches on the night, according to CompuBox. Roman handled it fine, fighting well while moving, dodging or blocking Flores’ shots and then returning fire with combinations to the body and head. The body received particular attention — about half of what Roman landed, a total of 175 blows.

Roman also was a volume puncher, passing the 1,000 mark as well. He was more accurate, landing 349 while holding Flores to 225 connected punches.

The judges saw him the clear winner, with scores of 120-108 (a shutout, 12 rounds to none), 118-110 (10 rounds to two) and 116-112 (eight rounds to four).

Roman is now 25-2-1 with 9 KOs and has recovered well from the two defeats he suffered earlier in his career. He’s hitting his prime at 28 years old and is in a division with other young fighters, including fellow titleholders Rey Vargas and Isaac Dogboe, plus another fighter from Japan, Ryosuke Iwasa.

“I would like to unify. I would like to challenge any of the champions,” Roman said afterward. “I’d love to face Rey Vargas or Isaac Dogboe. I don’t mind going back to Japan either.”

Other contenders in the division include former titleholder Jessie Magdaleno, Diego De La Hoya, and former bantamweight Luis Nery.

Flores is now 25-1 with 17 KOs. He’ll have to determine whether he can make 122 comfortably — he needs to decide if the layoff was a factor — or if a move to featherweight should come next.

Bizarre Injury Ends Fight Between Javier Fortuna and Adrian Granados

 Javier Fortuna left the ring on a stretcher Saturday night following a bizarre injury suffered in the fourth round of his bout with 140-pound contender Adrian Granados.

Fortuna ­was pushed through the loose ropes, his legs held up over the second rope while his upper body whipped backward and struck some ringside equipment. He was in visible pain, and medics opted to take him to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

He was diagnosed with a concussion, according to Mike Coppinger of RingTV.com.

As the fight ended on an accidental foul before four rounds had been completed, the bout was ruled a no contest.

The action until that point had been rather ugly. The naturally larger Granados was trying to pressure Fortuna, who was trying to box and counter. When Granados got too close for comfort, Fortuna often would hold to keep his opponent from working in close, and occasionally he would also push Granados’ head down in the clinch.

There still were some fun moments. Fortuna laced in some good counters in the second round. Granados was able to force Fortuna to the ropes in the third. In Round 4, the referee twice took points away from Fortuna, first for hitting behind the head, then for holding. Fortuna responded with urgency, landing several clean shots that forced Granados into the unfamiliar position of moving backward.

The fight was soon over. It doesn’t need to be seen again.

Granados is much better than his record of 18-6-2 with 12 KOs may otherwise indicate. He’s had a hard luck career, losing close decisions to respectable prospects and contenders in Frankie Gomez, Felix Diaz and Brad Solomon. He continued to improve, however, and scored a huge upset stoppage of Amir Imam in 2015. After that, the game Granados went up to welterweight for two big fights last year, giving Adrien Broner a tough battle and losing a clear decision to Shawn Porter.

The 140-pound division is where he belongs. He’ll be back in there with another name opponent soon.

Fortuna, once a contender at 130-pounds, moved up from that division after a loss to Jason Sosa in 2016. He came up short in a good fight with lightweight titleholder Robert Easter earlier this year. If Fortuna (33-2-1, 23 KOs) can make 135 — which he failed to do against Easter — then that’ll be where we see him next.

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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