In all of boxing, now and throughout its long history, there has been one simmering division that screams out, “Look at Me!" No, it’s not the heavyweights. Look no further than the welterweight division’s rich and unending stew of champions.
Today there is well-aged Manny Pacquiao, the newly crowned WBA champ, sweet and sour Terence Crawford of the WBO, former tasty champs like Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Mikey Garcia and Amir Kahn. You can even throw in the WBA/WBO caliente lightweight champ Vasyl Lomachenko into the mix if he decides to move up two weight classes.
The missing ingredients for the most delicious of stews are the two champions meeting in a unification bout on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Staples Center in Los Angles between Shawn “Showtime” Porter (WBC) and Errol “The Truth” Spence, Jr. (IBF).
While Porter (30-2-1; 21 KOs) is one of the roughest and toughest fighters – an acquired taste – in the division, Spence, Jr. (25-0; 21 KOs) is the creamy smooth southpaw with big-time power. He wants to be the master chef of the division; he has the skills to serve up crème de la crème to whomever you put in front of him.
Spence, Jr.’s plan is to clean out the division then challenge the reigning master chef, Crawford, for top honors. Right now Crawford is rated No. 2 in Ring Magazine’s Top Ten Boxers list behind Lomachenko. Spence, Jr. is No. 6 and climbing.
When Spence, Jr., born in Brentwood, Long Island and residing in Desoto, Texas meets Porter, a pressure fighter, he wants him chopped, plain and simple.
“He’s a real good fighter,” admits Spence, 29, from his training camp in Dallas. “I’m prepared for him coming forward or backing up.
“It’s just not about the battle and not about the skills. It’s about smarts and I’m smarter than him.”
When asked if he sticks to his earlier prediction that he will knock out the never-before-stopped Porter, he simply answers, “Definitely!”
The boxing world took notice of Spence, Jr. when he went across the pond in 2017 to face rugged Kell Brook (36-1; 26 KOs) in his hometown of Sheffield, England for the IBF title. He stopped him in the 11th round. The best have to fight the best no matter where they may live.
Besides fighting the best, Spence, Jr. needs to be seen with the best. His fight against Porter is his second on FOX pay-per-view.
“That fight [in England] meant a lot to me because fighters [today] don’t [travel],” he declares. “I was fighting the best fighter in the division, going to a foreign territory, his country. It shows a lot about myself, my mentality and my grit.”
And he showed it in his bout against Brook. He took some good shots, showed a strong chin, dropped Brook in round 10 and worked him over with his trademark stinging body shots. Think of Rocky Balboa tenderizing that slab of beef.
In his last fight against four-division champ Mikey Garcia (39-0; 30 KOs), the reigning WBC lightweight champ, Spence pitched a tactical shutout on all three scorecards in front of over 47,000 fans in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
His critics said he couldn’t out-box Garcia ... then presto — he did.
Spence, Jr. is on a mission of three parts.
“When I first started out my goal was to retire with my brain intact and money in my pocket,” he states without humor. “Now, I want to be one of the best fighters and an all-time great. I want to be the undisputed welterweight and super welterweight champ of the world.”
He seems to be following the game plan of Sugar Ray Leonard who went through multiple divisions en route to an International Boxing Hall of Fame induction.
The third part of his goal is to clear out the talented depth in the welterweight division. Spence, Jr.’s manager, Al Haymon, who has won the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Manager of the Year Award five times, has his charge ready to go through the division.
Next up could be Manny Pacquiao, or maybe Danny Garcia, or maybe Keith Thurman. The choices are endless.
“There’s more talent in the welterweight division and super welterweight division then there are in the heavyweight division,” notes Spence, Jr.
With fighters from 140 to 154 pounds all in striking distance of one another, you could have a round robin tournament with these fighters and they’d never face each other twice in three years.
Standing in Spence, Jr.’s way Saturday is the sturdy Porter who will be facing his ninth world champ. Porter has lost to Brook and Thurman, but has bested former champs Paulie Malignaggi, Devon Alexander, Julio Diaz, Adrien Broner, Andre Berto and Danny Garcia. He defended his WBC belt with a hard-fought split decision over Yordenis Ugas to garner the bout with Spence, Jr.
Porter, 31, heard all the talk about Spence, Jr. saying he is going knock him out and he chuckles at the thought. The bulldog from Las Vegas by way of Akron, OH, called out Spence, Jr. after watching the Garcia shut out.
“I’m not surprised to hear him say that because I know his mentality. I know who he is as a person,” says Porter, extremely confident, about his former friend. Yes, they were friends, but this fight is strictly business. “He’s very, very driven and competitive and I get that.”
Porter’s game plan is always about applying relentless pressure.
“We’ll be rough, we’ll be hard, we’ll be rugged,” warns Porter. “We’ll keep pressure on him and we all know pressure bursts pipes.”
Spence, Jr. has heard it all. The talk, the babble and all he says is enough already.
“I have nothing more to say,” says the 29-year-old. “Talking is over with. I’m tired of talking. When the ref says touch gloves, that’s when I’ll start talking again.”
A bit of a fashionista, Spence, Jr. likes to look good even though he earns his living in the ring. He decides to talk a bit more.
“I check the internet to see what looks good and try to find a nice suit, a matching tie and a nice pocket square,” says the father of daughters Ivy (3) and Violet (2). He also enjoys watching the Cooking Channel and likes to create in the kitchen also as much in the ring.
So when the fight is over and he is victorious, what culinary concoction will Spence, Jr. whip up? Could it be chocolate soufflé, cherries jubilee or perhaps a rack of lamb?
“I’m not cooking anything,” he states, adding, “after the fight I’ll eat whatever fits in a brown paper bag.”