by Cliff Rold
Big time boxing is back on US airwaves in the US. We were supposed to have two title bouts on Showtime Saturday night (9 PM EST/6 PM PST). Only three of the combatants showed up to be champions.
After having lost a 130 lb. title in June 2016, and easily clearing the 135 lb. limit at lightweight in four fights since (including a fight in September), Javier Fortuna somehow showed up on the scale almost two pounds over the limit. He could only shed a half-pound more on another try so his title shot is no more.
The fight will still go on but Robert Easter’s IBF lightweight title is no longer at stake.
Both men in the main event took care of business. Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Title: IBF welterweight (2017-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’9 ½
Weight: 147 lbs.
Hails from: Dallas, Texas
Record: 22-0, 19 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: 141-7-3 (.943)
Rankings: #2 (TBRB, ESPN, Ring, Boxing Monthly), #5 (BoxRec),
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Chris Algieri TKO5, Kell Brook KO11
Previous Titles: WBA light welterweight (2011); IBF light welterweight (2011-14, 3 defenses); WBA welterweight sub-version (2017)
Weight: 146 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Washington, DC
Record: 35-3-1, 17 KO, 1 KOBY
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-1, 2 KO (5-1, 2 KO including WBA sub-title at welterweight)
Last Five Opponents: 122-5 (.96)
Rankings: #6 (Ring), #7 (BoxRec), #8 (TBRB, ESPN, Boxing Monthly)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: John Brown TKO8, Tim Bradley L12, Victor Ortiz D10, Amir Khan SD12, Kendall Holt TKO8, Lucas Matthysse TKO by 3, Danny Garcia L12, David Avanesyan UD12 (WBA sub-titlist)
The Case for Spence: Spence, a 2012 Olympian, is the naturally bigger and younger man and, after his win over Brook, we also know he’s a fully mature man at that. He handled the heat of being of the road to take over and stop Brook in the second half of their fight. With solid speed, real power, and the confidence of that experience, Spence may want to make a statement here. Spence has shown he carries finishing power throughout a fight. In nine straight knockouts, two have come before the end of three, five have come between rounds four and six, and the others have come after six rounds. Against a fighter who has often been vulnerable early, Spence has a chance for a sensational and short night but can rely on the experience of his own career not to worry if Peterson is still there into the second half.
The Case for Peterson: Peterson hasn’t fought in almost a year and only three times since the beginning of 2015. He may have been as unlucky on the cards against Danny Garcia as he was lucky against Felix Diaz but clearly outworked a game Avanesyan. Peterson has been hurt early before, like in fights against Bradley, Ortiz, Khan, and Matthysse. Only Matthysse made it stick. The others found out that Peterson is a bear the longer he stays in the fight. With one of the better body attacks in the division when he gets going, Peterson drug Bradley into a real battle, came strong from behind to nick a decision from Khan, and controlled most of the second half with Garcia. If he can weather Spence early and get to his ribs, it could conceivably slow the younger man down and give him at least a chance to make an argument for a decision.
Spence has a chance to do what Matthysse did here: get Peterson out early. It’s to his advantage that Spence faces an older Peterson and is blessed with more talent and a physical style. Neither of these men shies from a fight though Peterson might wisely try to stay away from Spence early the way he legged it out against Garcia early. Even if he endures, Spence is just too good and still getting better. The pick is Spence by knockout.
Rold Picks 2018: 0-0
Author’s Note: After many years of report cards, this is an attempt to tinker with the format just a bit. If the reader’s have any suggestions, let them be known in the comments.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]