‘The Truth’ is out there. WBC and IBF welterweight king Errol Spence illustrated that reports of his demise were premature with a clinical, unanimous decision win over two-division champion Danny Garcia at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday night.
Spence was making his first appearance since a high-speed car crash in October 2019, but showed no ill effects in an accomplished performance. Scores were 117-11 and 116-112 (twice) in favour of the smooth Texan southpaw, fighting in front of his home state fans in a socially-distanced crowd.
“The moment is surreal,” said Spence (27-0, 21 KOs). “Coming back from the accident, I feel like I looked pretty good tonight. All training camp I felt good. I told people I didn’t want a tune-up fight. I proved to everyone that I’m the best 147lbs fighter in the world.
“Danny Garcia pushed me to the limit, especially in training camp. I’ve watched him fight since he was an amateur. I knew he was a great champion and I had to be 100% ready.
“I had a little bit of ring rust, but I was in such great shape and took everything seriously in training so that I would not be discouraged by that. I worked my jab and used my angles because that was my best move.
“It’s been a long year and a half, so I’m going to wind down for a week or two, then get back on it. I proved that I’m back and I’m here to stay.”
Spence’s exquisite right-hand lead was his primary weapon, damaging and swelling Garcia’s left eye and dictating the contest. “His jab was rangy and threw my timing off a bit,” said Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs). “That was the key to the fight. Everything else I feel like I adapted to. The jab was the only thing that was better than expected.
“I was trying to be more active. He did a good job taking away what I wanted to do. Everyone is looking for my left hook, so I thought my right hand could be the difference. I had some success going to the body with it. When two champions fight, one guy is going to be better on the night.”
Garcia ate jabs all night and, by the end of the sixth, his eye was beginning to close. Spence simply outworked noted counter-puncher Garcia, driving him into the ropes in a dominant eighth round that had the Philadelphian looking downcast and under duress.
Spence’s stellar bodywork was also in evidence as he eased to victory down the home straight with Garcia unable to get his shots off or threaten late.
On the undercard, rising super-welterweight contender Sebastian ‘The Towering Inferno’ Fundora (16-0-1, 11 KOs) crushed former world title challenger and late sub Habib Ahmed (27-2-1, 18 KOs) in two rounds of a WBA title eliminator. Fundora overwhelmed Ahmed with a ceaseless volley of punches in the second before referee Laurence Cole stepped in.
“We saw him buckle in the first round,” said Fundora. “I heard my dad yell from the corner that he was shaken. I knew he couldn’t take the power, so I decided to walk right through him. We just fought in an eliminator, so I’m pretty sure I’m high up in the rankings now. The 154-pound division is stacked, so I’ll be ready for anyone.”
Meanwhile, veteran welterweight Josesito Lopez (38-8, 21 KOs) halted a dogged Francisco Santana (25-9-1, 12 KOs) in the 10th and final round of their encounter. Lopez, rejuvenated with trainer Robert Garcia, scored four knockdowns in the first, ninth and tenth rounds (twice).
“It was a tough fight like I expected,” said Lopez. “I had to be smart in there, dictate the pace and pick my shots. We managed to do what we set out to do. You can’t deny me anymore. If I’m not in with the best, I’m in with the toughest. I want one of the world champions or one of the top fighters.”
With the shot of the night, featherweight contender Eduardo Ramirez (24-2-3, 11 KOs) scored a spectacular one-punch knockout of Miguel Flores (24-4, 12 KOs) in their WBA 126lbs title eliminator. Southpaw Ramirez dispatched Flores with a sweet counter right hook early in the fifth to immediately end the fight.
“I’m very happy about the win,” said Ramirez. “I worked very hard and I’m thrilled to get the victory tonight. This was all the result of the hard work I put into the gym. The Montiel brothers trained me well and it all paid off tonight. This was a last minute opponent. I didn’t get to train specifically for him. But I’m getting better every day in the gym, that’s my main focus. I feel like I can beat anyone in this division.”
Main image and all photos: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions.