‘The Truth’ hurts: Errol Spence Jr. dominates Lamont Peterson
Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. meticulously broke Lamont Peterson down, over the course of seven rounds, leading to a corner stoppage before the eighth and a technical knockout victory in his first defense of the IBF welterweight title, on Saturday night. The contest was the main event of a Showtime telecast held at the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York.
“First of all, I want to thank Lamont Peterson. A lot of guys did turn down the fight and he took it like a real warrior, a real fighter. And I commend him for that,” Spence said in the post-fight interview with Showtime’s Jim Gray. “My coach came with a great game plan and I just followed through with it. He told me to keep my distance, use my jab, keep my range and keep my composure, if he tried to bring it on.”
Spence, 23-0 (20), came out of the gate looking to command respect with his shots to the body and, in the second, after a gut punch followed by a right to the head, he forced Peterson into retreat near the end of the round. Indeed Spence managed to control his distance and, as a result, his power shots to the body and head were precise.
Peterson, 35-4-1 (17), started to have some of his best moments of the fight, beginning in the third round, and his straight right hand had the most consistency. What that shot couldn’t do was prevent Spence from coming forward and, even in the moments in which they’d exchange through the fourth, the younger fighter was getting the better of the veteran. In the fifth, Spence scored a knockdown of Peterson, after a few too many consecutive hooks touched his chin and temple. Peterson got up and even fought back intensely to finish the remaining two minutes of the round. However after landing a nice right of his own, Spence smiled and proceeded to back Lamont into the ropes.
“Lamont is a tough fighter. He will give it all he’s got and he is willing to die in there,” Spence said. “As you can see, his coach had to stop the fight and he wanted to keep going. That’s who Lamont is.”
Peterson, 33, who was fighting for the first time at welterweight, still tried his best to land the perfect right hand on Spence’s chin in the sixth. Spence was unfazed and, after a sixth round, in which it started to become bruising on Peterson’s face, Lamont could be heard on the telecast telling his coach Barry Hunter that he knew he hadn’t won a single round. The beating continued in the seventh and, after what seemed to be much self-debate, Hunter made the right call in stopping it just before the eighth was about to begin.
“I’m always gonna respect (Hunter’s) decision,” Peterson said afterward. “If he asked me to fight a million people, I’ll fight them. If he says that’s it, then that’s it.”
“It was really hard,” Hunter said about making the decision. “If you know Lamont, you know his heart and you know his courage. Soldiers usually die on the battlefield and I knew he would’ve fought to the end, so I had to step up because, at the end of the day, this is my son. And I don’t care nothing about boxing more than I care about him.”
A former champion at 140 pounds fighting out of Washington D.C., Peterson was confronted by Gray about his future and asked whether or not this was it. To this, Peterson responded, “That’s something that I will have to think about. I can’t make that decision right now but something I have to think about in the next few weeks.”
Fighting out of Dallas, Texas, Spence, 28, didn’t show any signs of rust, considering it had been eight months, since he went to the U.K. to knock Kell Brook out and win the IBF welterweight title. Since then, Spence’s return has been looked forward to by many because of his tremendous talent but he was humble in admitting he still had things to work on.
“Definitely,” he told Gray. “I still can improve a lot in my defense and other ways in my craft. I just have to keep perfecting my skills, stay in the gym, keep learning, keep progressing and you will see a better Errol Spence each time I get in the ring.”
As for what’s next, Spence reiterated what he’s always wanted and, in his southern drawl, gave a sound bite that drew a positive response from the crowd and, likely, those watching at home.
“Everybody know I’m waiting on ‘Some Time’ Thurman,” Spence said about the unified WBA/WBC welterweight titleholder Keith “One Time” Thurman. “I’ve been waiting for a long time, since I was 15-0. I’ve been calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses. He needs to hurry up and come back, fight a little tune-up fight and then let’s fight! Lets get it on, man.”
In the Showtime co-feature, Robert Easter Jr. earned a split decision nod over Javier Fortuna, after 12 competitive rounds. Scores of 114-113 and 115-112 in favor of Easter overruled the lone score for Fortuna (114-113) but the crowd let what they thought of the result be known.
“He was sitting back trying to hold and counterpunch but he wasn’t really doing anything. That made it difficult for me to chase this guy around,” proclaimed Easter after the fight. “The fans are booing because I didn’t get the knockout. I’m sorry to all my fans that I didn’t get a knockout.”
In the same way the fans weren’t buying his claim, post-fight, Easter, 21-0 (14), had trouble looking like the match-up nightmare that he’s been lauded as, since winning the vacant IBF lightweight title in 2016. The tall, rangy fighter out of Toledo, Ohio, couldn’t establish a jab that would maintain a comfortable distance and, even when he was willing to trade, he wasn’t always the one getting off the better shots.
Fortuna, 33-2-1, (23), who missed weight and a chance to win Easter’s IBF belt, went into the fight with reckless abandon. The Dominican winged hooks every chance he could but it his movement really gave Easter trouble and, for much of the fight, it seemed, Fortuna was controlling how the fight played out and where it would go. In the second round, Fortuna got careless and threw consecutive rabbit punches that warranted a point deduction from referee Ricky Gonzalez. Obviously, it would cost him, as a result, and it gave Easter a chance, in the proceeding rounds, to pounce on an aggressive fighter, who had just been punished.
In the sixth, Fortuna had his best moment, when his counter left hook stunned Easter in the round’s final moments. The 28-year old couldn’t follow-up on it, however, and, especially in the eighth round, Fortuna seemed to take breaks in the fight and let Easter regain his composure. Starting in the 10th, the fight had some of its most intense moments but what wasn’t clear was whom exactly was winning these competitive rounds. Nevertheless the crowd certainly responded to the two men duking it out through the 12th but, even though they seemed to enjoy the ending in the ring, they weren’t happy, as a result.