IN comprehensively defeating Danny Garcia by a unanimous 12-round decision, defending IBF and WBC welterweight champion Errol Spence Jnr put to rest the question of whether the horrific car accident he was in last year had taken the kind of toll that would carry over inside of the ring.
It was a triumphant return in front of a hometown crowd of 16,102 who were allowed to witness the event at the AT&T Stadium (PBC promoted), a venue with a capacity of 100,000. Among those in the crowd was WBO welterweight boss Terence Crawford whose presence will loom over Spence until they box. It is a fight everyone is anxious to see, yet Spence is nonchalant when the topic comes up, saying it is Crawford who needs him and not vice versa. For the sake of Spence’s legacy it is imperative his attitude changes. Otherwise Spence might ultimately be remembered more for the fight he did not take than the ones he did.
Certainly Spence should be given credit for boxing an opponent as tough as Garcia in his first match back. The Philadelphian, a former world champion still arguably in his prime, represented a serious threat to Spence who could have chosen a much easier opponent and been given a pass.
Southpaw Spence came out aggressively behind a jab which Garcia would later say was the primary reason for his defeat. Garcia promised beforehand that he would take more chances than usual. He loaded up on some big punches in the second round that Spence easily avoided. Spence continued to apply pressure to Garcia, a natural counterpuncher who could not get off. “You’re giving him confidence,” Trainer Angel Garcia told his son when he returned to the corner at the end of the third round.
Spence continued to force the issue, targeting the body and landing straight lefts to Garcia’s swollen left eye. The bridge of Garcia’s nose was cut as well.
Garcia finally rallied at the end of the seventh when he landed a few rights, but he was becoming increasingly discouraged and backing up more than he had surely planned. Spence periodically changed tactics over the second half of the fight, circling the ring, jabbing, and moving before reverting to taking the fight to Garcia.
With the fight winding down Spence inexplicably went for broke, engaging Garcia in a wild exchange. Garcia scored with several good blows to finish the bout on a high note even though he was weary and well beaten.
BN scored it 117-111 as did judge Tim Cheatham. Steve Weisfeld and Barry Lindeman both had it 116-112. Thomas Taylor refereed.
Sebastian Fundora, the 6ft 6ins super-welterweight from Coachella is aptly nicknamed the “Towering Inferno”. He turned out to be too tall of an order for Accra’s Habib Ahmed who was halted at 1-30 of the second round of a scheduled 12. A right uppercut from southpaw Fundora wobbled Ahmed soon after the opening bell. Fundora marched forward throughout, landing uppercuts and hooks from both hands. Ahmed was being completely overpowered and was not punching back when referee Laurence Cole stepped in.
Josesito Lopez, one of boxing’s sturdiest gatekeepers, was too strong for fellow Californian Francisco Santana, stopping him at 1-22 of the 10th and final round. It was an absolute disgrace that it was allowed to go on as long as it did. Body punches dropped Santana in the opening round and although he fought back gamely Lopez was dominating. In the ninth round a weary Santana was dropped for a nine count then wobbled back to his corner at the bell. He was in bad shape yet allowed to come out for the 10th where he was dropped twice more before referee Neal Young stopped it.
In a WBA featherweight world title eliminator, Los Mochis’ Eduardo Ramirez stopped Houston’s Miguel Flores at 20 seconds of the fifth round of a 12. Ramirez, a southpaw, was the stronger man unloading hard blows to the head and body. Right after the bell rang to begin the fifth they exchanged punches. Ramirez’s counter right hook got through sending Flores down. He got up at the count of seven, mouth bleeding. It was then superbly stopped by referee Cole.
The Verdict Credit to Spence for his performance. But his lackadaisical attitude to Terence Crawford continues to frustrate.