Errol Spence Jr won a brilliant tear-up with the game Shawn Porter in Saturday night’s world welterweight title unification fight.
Spence Jr was pushed and tested but won a split decision after crucially knocking Porter down in the 11th round in Los Angeles.
Unbeaten Spence Jr added Porter’s WBC title to his IBF belt to further his claim to supremacy of the welterweight division – Terence Crawford and Manny Pacquiao are the WBO and WBA champions, respectively.
The entire fight was fought at an astonishing pace and became an exhibition in how to punch to the body.
Porter immediately made it clear he planned to bulldoze in recklessly, and Spence Jr tried to clip him as he came in. Porter had to withstand a few heavy punches in the early rounds before his pressurising style became worthwhile.
Round three became a wild shoot-out and when both world champions were left hurt but standing, it became a battle of wills.
Spence Jr was covering up and going backwards in the fourth when Porter’s trademark pressure started to affect him. The middle rounds belonged to Porter as Spence Jr was forced to reassess how to approach him.
In the eighth Spence Jr, who became a world champion by stopping Kell Brook in Sheffield in 2017, landed brutally to the midriff and Porter, on a rare occasion, was made to stand still.
The ninth was sensational – two of the world’s elite boxers at close-quarters showcased their brilliance. Spence Jr and Porter were both caught, both recovered, and both had success.
The fight was hanging in the balance when a brilliant left hook from Spence Jr floored his opponent – Porter sunk onto one knee and his glove touched the canvas but somehow he was able to continue.
Spence Jr ended the fight on top, but had to nervously wait for the judges’ verdict which narrowly favoured him. Spence Jr was given two 116-111 scorecards and Porter had a 115-112 verdict.
Danny Garcia, the contender who knocked out Amir Khan in 2012 and lost to Porter last year, was then confirmed as Spence Jr’s next challenger.
David Benavidez stopped Anthony Dirrell, who was badly cut, in nine rounds to win the WBC super-middleweight title.
Unbeaten Benavidez, still aged just 22, is now a two-time world champion after a physical and rugged performance.
Dirrell couldn’t recover from a terrible cut above his right eye in the sixth round and slipped to his first stoppage defeat.
Mario Barrios knocked down Batyr Akhmedov in the 12th round then earned a unanimous decision to take home the WBA super-lightweight title.