The search for ‘The Truth’ – Breaking down Errol Spence Jr vs Shawn Porter with a fighter who has faced both

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Jack Rathborn
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Getty
Getty

The welterweight division is edging closer to finding out ‘The Truth’ about who is No 1. Errol Spence Jr and Shawn Porter provide the latest instalment of what has blossomed into an unofficial tournament with promise to leave a lasting legacy.

Spence Jr, from Desoto, Texas, is evidently hungry to fight the best and on Saturday he hopes to unify one of boxing’s glamour divisions.

Recently serenaded by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who hopes to persuade ‘The Truth’ to intermittently showcase his prime years inside his spaceship-like AT&T stadium, the bludgeoning body puncher, who cut Kell Brook down at Bramall Lane in 2017 to truly arrive at the top of the sport, is now beginning to add more weapons to his game.

The 29-year-old unveiled a dominant jab against the undersized Mikey Garcia earlier this year, blanking the former four-weight world champion in front of almost 50,000. But Porter, an ardent Cleveland Browns fan, provides a different test. The buccaneering Akronite offers both danger and opportunity in a fight that could develop up close: ideal ingredients to add a thrilling element alongside his WBC belt and Spence Jr’s IBF title.

“He’s a great body puncher,” Phil Lo Greco tells The Independent as one of just two fighters, with Brook, to share the ring with Spence Jr and Porter. “His body shots immediately caught my attention.

“When was the last time we saw a southpaw like Errol who can dig to the body? Not just throw body shots, like Joe Calzaghe, I’m talking about a real digger here.”

Great things have been expected of Spence Jr ever since reportedly bringing too much exuberance to a sparring session with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Yet Porter finds himself in a familiar position as underdog, having scrapped his way to the top. The devout Christian is trained by his father Kenny, who once coached Spence Jr in the United States’ Olympic set-up ahead of the 2012 Games. Despite never being friends, the pair have interacted over the years with Porter recently recalling the moment he became aware of Spence Jr’s tenacity. It was not in the ring but at his pickup basketball game last year.

Porter’s pugilistic style has clearly irked Spence Jr though, presumably once he became aware he would be forced to take him out should he eventually acquire undisputed status. The simmering tension between the pair has now reached boiling point, with the bitterness perhaps luring Spence Jr away from the calculated, yet cautious display against Garcia in favour of pursuing a win on Saturday in “dominating fashion”, something that could favour Porter.

Errol Spence defeats Mikey Garcia via a wide unanimous decision (Getty)
Errol Spence defeats Mikey Garcia via a wide unanimous decision (Getty)

“He is kind of dirty,” Spence Jr claims. “A lot of times he does like to fight dirty, especially if things don’t go his way.

"All his fights are close decisions and split decisions - that's the only way he can stay close to the top-level fighters. You're an in-shape street fighter.”

Despite dismissing Porter publicly, Spence Jr is almost certainly preparing for his toughest test to date, one which may force him into demonstrating another unseen skill in the form of a back-foot game so rarely seen - or needed - in his 25-0 career to date.

Once both fighters have taken a close look at each other after that first bell, Porter will presumably set a tireless pace to challenge Spence Jr into matching one of his strongest qualities.

“He was so hungry,” Lo Greco recalls from their 2013 10-round bout. “He wanted it more than me. He throws a lot of punches, he’s strong, but he does push a lot with his punches and wastes a lot of energy for no reason in my opinion.

“But no, he’s not a dirty fighter, he doesn’t do it intentionally, it’s just his style.”

Shawn Porter knocks down Phil Lo Greco in their 2013 bout (Getty)
Shawn Porter knocks down Phil Lo Greco in their 2013 bout (Getty)

Lo Greco, who was stopped in three rounds by Spence Jr after accepting the fight on short notice, believes the favourite “dominates” the fight, notwithstanding any weight issues, with the tantalising prospect of future fights up to middleweight.

And fellow champions Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford will watch on with intrigue, but for now Porter has vowed to force his rival into a long arduous night.

“This fight is a mental war as much as it’s a physical one,” Porter adds. “He’s young, technically savvy and tenacious. People say, ‘he’s the next coming.’

“I have advantages that are flying under the radar. Guys can’t handle my aggressive attack.

“He didn't knock out 135lbs Mikey Garcia so he ain't knocking out 147lbs 'Showtime' Shawn Porter. I'll be there until the last round.”