Spence Jr. stops Peterson and calls out Thurman Jr.
By Rich Mazon
Sun, 21 Jan 2018
Brooklyn, New York - Boxing needed a big welcome in the new year and 2018 got it from one of its rising stars - International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs).
Spence Jr., 28, showed why he is a force to be reckon with in the ring when he stopped Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) in the 8th round to retain his title and remained unbeaten at the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.
After an uneventful first round, Spence Jr. went to work on Peterson by digging to his body followed by hard combinations upstairs. He dropped Peterson with a short left hook in the 5th but that was not enough to keep Peterson out.
Proven tough through the years, Peterson got up and weathered the storm that the champion unleashed after the knockdown. Spence Jr. hammered the former unified 140 champion with both fists when battle resumed with the aim of ending the fight.
Peterson survived the round but was clobbered again by Spence in the 6th and the 7th, producing visible swelling in Peterson’s face. This prompted the doctor at ringside to climb the ring to assess him at close range after both rounds.
With both of his eyes closing, and his face swollen and reddened from the punishment he was taking from the reigning champion, Peterson’s coach - Barry Hunter - decided that he had seen enough and asked Referee Harvey Dock that the fight be stopped before the 8th round started.
Despite his willingness to continue fighting, Peterson did not disagree with his coach about the stoppage.
“I will always respect Barry’s decision. If he asks me to go out here and fight a million people, I’m gonna fight them. If he says that’s it, that’s it.”
This was Spence Jr.’s first defense of the title he won from Kell Brook last year and his 10th straight KO performance. After the fight, he called on fellow 147 and unified (WBA and WBC) champion Keith Thurman for a possible welterweight mega showdown.
“Everybody knows that I’m waiting on Some Time Thurman. Now I’ve been waiting for a long time. Since I was 15 and 0, I’ve been calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses after excuses. I’m waiting on him, let’s get it on Man.”
Minutes later, Keith Thurman Jr. responded via his Twitter account.
“I 👀 (see) you young buck. Be patient, your time is coming. #OneTime”
Easter edges Fortuna in close contest
In the co- main event, International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. (20-0, 14 KOs) edged feisty Javier Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) with a close and debatable twelve round Split Decision nod.
Easter, whose title belt was not at stake because Fortuna was unable to make the 135 pound weight limit, remained unbeaten with scores of 115-114 and 115-112. A third judge gave Fortuna the fight with a 114-113 tally.
Fortuna who disputed the decision, kept the fight close in the scorecards and in the ring. Despite Easter’s five inch height advantage and a seven and a half inch reach, the former two-division champ from the Dominican Republic was able to penetrate his opponent’s defenses and hurt him numerous times in the fight.
A crucial early infraction against Fortuna due to hitting Easter behind the head in the opening round was a big factor in the final scores. Without that one point deduction the fight would have been ruled a draw.
“The public knows what happened here. They booed because they know that I won this fight.” Fortuna stated as the crowd applauded him and his performance.
The crowd reacted the opposite when Easter was announced as the winner of the contest. He was heckled when he spoke after the fight.
“It was a tough fight, he's a former world champion for a reason. We made it tough trying to counter punch. He wasn't throwing much and it made it difficult for me to chase this guy around.”
Easter was successful when he was using his jabs and left hooks courtesy of his lengthy arms. But when he did not, he provided Fortuna an outlet to make the fight messy in the inside.
The unbeaten champ expressed willingness to fight the other champions at 135 like Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares in order to unify the belts but his lackluster performance tonight versus Fortuna and the controversial decision may be enough to make a case for a rematch which Fortuna demanded right away.
“If he's a man let's fight again at 135 pounds. I will definitely make the weight. I didn't give myself enough time to train."
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