Spence wins split decision to claim two welterweight belts

LOS ANGELES — Errol Spence Jr. won a split decision over Shawn Porter Sept. 28 at Staples Center to claim the International Boxing Federation’s and World Boxing Council’s welterweight titles.

“It feels good to win. This is a lifetime dream,” Spence said. “It shows hard work pays off.”

Judge Larry Hazard saw the fight 115-112 for Porter, but Judges Steve Weisfel and Ray Danesco scored the fight in favor of Spence at 116-111.

More than 16,000 boxing fans witnessed one of the most exciting welterweight showdowns. Both fighters entered the ring with high energy and aggressive moves. Porter’s power shots to the head and body in Rounds 4 and 8 put Spence in trouble.

Spence adjusted quickly and was on the defense. In round 11, Spence threw several blows and a left hook, scoring a knockdown when Porter’s knee and glove hit the canvas. 

“I think that knockdown was the difference,” Porter said. “I couldn’t come back to the corner with my head down after that.”

Until the final bell rang, Porter and Spence continued fighting at a high level of action that did not disappoint the crowd.

“He’s a strong kid. We both came in to do the job,” Porter said. “I think I had a little more than what he expected, but he handled it. Congratulations to him and his team. We’re proud of what we did.”

At the end of the day, Spence threw 745 power punches landing 44% while Porter fired off 744 punches. connecting on 25%.

“Shawn Porter is a rough and awkward fighter,” Spence said. “I didn’t get off what I wanted to. He’s a true champion. He made it tough.”

Spence’s record advances to 26-0, with 21 knockouts. Porter is now 30-2-1, with 17 knockouts.

In one of the preliminary bouts David Benavidez became the youngest 168-pound world champion in the sport’s history.

Benavidez defeated Anthony Dirrell in a ninth round TKO, after Dirrell could no longer fight after suffering a cut over the eye in the sixth round. Benavidez, 22, claimed the WBC Super Middleweight World Title.

“He hit me with a clean shot,” Dirrell said. “That’s my first time ever being cut by a punch. It opened up. There was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t see the whole fight after that. My corner did a good job on it, but I really couldn’t see.”

The ringside physician checked Dirrell’s cut in rounds six, seven and eight. Dirrell was able to continue; however, it became evident that the cut was slowing him down. At 1:39 into the ninth round, referee Thomas Taylor officially stopped the fight under the direction of Dirrell’s corner.

“Everything just fell in place perfectly, from the suspension to all the big fights I’ve been in,” Benavidez said. “All of that helped me out in this fight. I did not make a mistake or open myself up more than I needed to. I worked behind my jab and got the stoppage.

“Things are going to get better and get tougher and I’m ready for the challenge.”

Marie Y. Lemelle is a freelance journalist in Glendale. She can be reached on Instagram @platinumstarpr or Twitter @platinumstar.