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Spence-Jr. vs Peterson Preview: Sometimes Theater Of The Expected Is Still Worth Watching

I can’t speak for anyone else, but sometimes, I find myself wanting to watch something a little predictable on TV or in the theater. Don’t get me wrong-I have nothing against plot twists or character development and certainly enjoy watching shows that contain those elements. Still, I find it fun to occasionally watch something where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, just because I know it will contain enough entertaining moments to make it worth my time.

That same principle holds true for boxing. There are often times when I find myself excited about the prospect of watching a fight, even if I have absolute certainty of what the result will be once all is said and done. There’s entertainment to be had from watching a rising young champion break down the resistance of a capable and determined challenger before putting them away in emphatic fashion. I’ve watched variations of that theme occur more times than I could begin to count, and I’ve yet to think of an occasion where I didn’t enjoy the experience.

That’s why I’m looking forward to the main event of tonight’s card on Showtime between the gifted, highly regarded Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. making the first defense of his IBF welterweight title against tough former two-division titleholder Lamont Peterson. Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KO’s) is coming into this contest as a prohibitive underdog against the Texan, and the prevailing opinion among most observers is that the Washington D.C. native is badly outgunned against his younger, faster, harder punching rival. That may well be the case, but Peterson has some attributes that stand him in good stead in this particular. He’s a technically sound boxer-puncher who is capable of boxing well at range and controlling opponents with a stiff right hands to the head or wearing them down in the trenches and grinding them down with repeated hooks to the body. In addition to his versatility, Lamont has enormous heart and determination, which has allowed him to scrape himself off the canvas and then work his way back into a fight on more than one occasion, most notably against Amir Khan when he came off the mat to score an admittedly controversial decision to score the biggest win of his career against a naturally more gifted opponent.


Of course, that victory occurred at 140lbs, where Peterson spent the vast majority of his career. Since moving to welterweight, he’s dropped a close decision to Danny Garcia in a fight that many thought he should have won-followed by a close decision win over Felix Diaz that others thought he should have lost. Still, these results, as well as his last win over the gritty David Avanesyan, are enough to establish Peterson as a legitimate top 10 contender at welterweight and as someone who is capable of hanging with just about anyone in the division (if not actually good enough to beat them outright).

Unfortunately for Peterson, Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KO’s) isn’t just anyone.

The fighter that will be facing Peterson this evening at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center is someone who displays many of the attributes needed to become a long term champion at welterweight, as well as fixture in everyone’s pound for pound top ten list. Spence possesses fluid movement to glide in and out of punching range, and a complete arsenal of punches thrown with speed, precision, and power. He puts his punches together in a variety of combinations, and makes a point of working an opponent’s body. He can do just about anything that you’d want a champion to able to do in the ring, and he does those things very well.

Moreover, Spence has already shown that he has the ability to retain his composure when faced with adversity. When he met the reigning IBF champion Kell Brook in the latter’s hometown of Sheffield, the Texas southpaw didn’t seem particularly fazed when “The Special One” jumped out to an early lead over the first half of the contest. Instead, he kept his cool until found his range; and then, after breaking Brook’s left orbital bone went on to dominate the second half and eventually secure a stoppage.

Given that Brook possesses more ability than Peterson and just as much skill, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to pose any more of a threat to Errol’s undefeated record than Brook did last May. Lamont’s a tough crafty veteran and he could make things uncomfortable for Spence if he’s allowed to get into any sort of rhythm. However, I think Spence’s edge in speed and power will keep that from happening. If he doesn’t take advantage of Peterson’s penchant for starting slowly and blast him out early like Argentinian flame-thrower Lucas Matthysse did in 2013, he should still be able to build upon the success that he’s likely to enjoy in the opening rounds and do enough damage to prevent his challenger from staging another of his patented second half charges.

Either way, I think Spence will eventually find a home for his best weapon, a nasty left uppercut that can leave an opponent gasping for air when thrown to the body or staring vacantly up at the lights when directed at the head. Peterson may not crumble immediately after absorbing that shot (though it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he did), but that will be the moment when he realizes the truth about tonight’s match-up…

…That it pits a challenger who is a very good boxer against a champion who happens to be better-and who may well wind up being considered a truly great boxer once his career is completed.

Of course, it’s not completely out of the question that Peterson might find a way to pull off what would have to be considered a pretty monumental upset, or to at least make things more difficult for Spence Jr. than anyone might expect. I wouldn’t complain about that at all if that actually took place.

But even if that doesn’t happen and things go exactly according script, I still think that tonight’s contest is worth checking out. After all, sometimes fights that follow predictable patterns are still worth watching from time to time, especially when those patterns produce action and entertainment.

I think this may well be one of those occasions- and the fact that I already know the ending doesn’t change that for a second.

***

As a quick note, the semi-main event that pits IBF lightweight titleholder Robert Easter Jr. and former WBA 130 champ Javier Fortuna might be worth checking out in its own right.

Easter (20-0, 14 KO’s) enjoys almost a half foot advantage over his Dominican opponent in height, as well a borderline ridiculous eight inch edge in reach; however he has displayed a tendency to dispense with the idea of boxing exclusively at long range in order to take the fight directly to an opponent. If he chooses to do so against Fortuna, then the challenger’s edge in speed and his southpaw stance might cause him some difficulty-at least for a while.

That said, Fortuna (33-1-1, 23KO’s) had displayed a tendency to unravel when pressured, sometimes has a tendency to square up when launching flurries at his opponent, and occasionally loses his form by leaping into range to throw wide punches. That could spell disaster against a fighter who possesses legitimate one punch power in his right hand and a willingness to go after a fighter with everything he’s got once he has them hurt. Moreover, the fact that Fortuna wasn’t able to make weight yesterday makes me wonder about his conditioning and how he’ll fare as the fight progresses.

If Easter stays disciplined and chooses to box at range, I suspect it won’t be very long before he finds the range and lowers the boom on an opponent whose chin has already been checked at a lower weight. If his attacking temperament compels him to take the fight to his opponent and forsake his natural advantages, then the fight could last longer and be more competitive.

Either way, I suspect that Fortuna’s lack of conditioning and occasionally loss of form will be his undoing, and that regardless of Easter’s strategy, the fight with end with the challenger visiting the canvas at least once and remaining there as the official calls a halt to the proceedings.

So, just like the main event, the outcome of this fight strikes me as being a foregone conclusion…

And just like Spence Jr.-Peterson, I don’t think that will prevent me from enjoying the way that this spectacle will unfold.

Author’s Picks: Spence Jr. by 8th round stoppage, Easter Jr by 6th round KO.I can’t speak for anyone else, but sometimes, I find myself wanting to watch something a little predictable on TV or in the theater. Don’t get me wrong-I have nothing against plot twists or character development and certainly enjoy watching shows that contain those elements. Still, I find it fun to occasionally watch something where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, just because I know it will contain enough entertaining moments to make it worth my time.

That same principle holds true for boxing. There are often times when I find myself excited about the prospect of watching a fight, even if I have absolute certainty of what the result will be once all is said and done. There’s entertainment to be had from watching a rising young champion break down the resistance of a capable and determined challenger before putting them away in emphatic fashion. I’ve watched variations of that theme occur more times than I could begin to count, and I’ve yet to think of an occasion where I didn’t enjoy the experience.

That’s why I’m looking forward to the main event of tonight’s card on Showtime between the gifted, highly regarded Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. making the first defense of his IBF welterweight title against tough former two-division titleholder Lamont Peterson. Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KO’s) is coming into this contest as a prohibitive underdog against the Texan, and the prevailing opinion among most observers is that the Washington D.C. native is badly outgunned against his younger, faster, harder punching rival. That may well be the case, but Peterson has some attributes that stand him in good stead in this particular. He’s a technically sound boxer-puncher who is capable of boxing well at range and controlling opponents with a stiff right hands to the head or wearing them down in the trenches and grinding them down with repeated hooks to the body. In addition to his versatility, Lamont has enormous heart and determination, which has allowed him to scrape himself off the canvas and then work his way back into a fight on more than one occasion, most notably against Amir Khan when he came off the mat to score an admittedly controversial decision to score the biggest win of his career against a naturally more gifted opponent.

Of course, that victory occurred at 140lbs, where Peterson spent the vast majority of his career. Since moving to welterweight, he’s dropped a close decision to Danny Garcia in a fight that many thought he should have won-followed by a close decision win over Felix Diaz that others thought he should have lost. Still, these results, as well as his last win over the gritty David Avanesyan, are enough to establish Peterson as a legitimate top 10 contender at welterweight and as someone who is capable of hanging with just about anyone in the division (if not actually good enough to beat them outright).

Unfortunately for Peterson, Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KO’s) isn’t just anyone.

The fighter that will be facing Peterson this evening at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center is someone who displays many of the attributes needed to become a long term champion at welterweight, as well as fixture in everyone’s pound for pound top ten list. Spence possesses fluid movement to glide in and out of punching range, and a complete arsenal of punches thrown with speed, precision, and power. He puts his punches together in a variety of combinations, and makes a point of working an opponent’s body. He can do just about anything that you’d want a champion to able to do in the ring, and he does those things very well.

Moreover, Spence has already shown that he has the ability to retain his composure when faced with adversity. When he met the reigning IBF champion Kell Brook in the latter’s hometown of Sheffield, the Texas southpaw didn’t seem particularly fazed when “The Special One” jumped out to an early lead over the first half of the contest. Instead, he kept his cool until found his range; and then, after breaking Brook’s left orbital bone went on to dominate the second half and eventually secure a stoppage.

Given that Brook possesses more ability than Peterson and just as much skill, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to pose any more of a threat to Errol’s undefeated record than Brook did last May. Lamont’s a tough crafty veteran and he could make things uncomfortable for Spence if he’s allowed to get into any sort of rhythm. However, I think Spence’s edge in speed and power will keep that from happening. If he doesn’t take advantage of Peterson’s penchant for starting slowly and blast him out early like Argentinian flame-thrower Lucas Matthysse did in 2013, he should still be able to build upon the success that he’s likely to enjoy in the opening rounds and do enough damage to prevent his challenger from staging another of his patented second half charges.

Either way, I think Spence will eventually find a home for his best weapon, a nasty left uppercut that can leave an opponent gasping for air when thrown to the body or staring vacantly up at the lights when directed at the head. Peterson may not crumble immediately after absorbing that shot (though it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he did), but that will be the moment when he realizes the truth about tonight’s match-up…

…That it pits a challenger who is a very good boxer against a champion who happens to be better-and who may well wind up being considered a truly great boxer once his career is completed.

Of course, it’s not completely out of the question that Peterson might find a way to pull off what would have to be considered a pretty monumental upset, or to at least make things more difficult for Spence Jr. than anyone might expect. I wouldn’t complain about that at all if that actually took place.

But even if that doesn’t happen and things go exactly according script, I still think that tonight’s contest is worth checking out. After all, sometimes fights that follow predictable patterns are still worth watching from time to time, especially when those patterns produce action and entertainment.

I think this may well be one of those occasions- and the fact that I already know the ending doesn’t change that for a second.

***

As a quick note, the semi-main event that pits IBF lightweight titleholder Robert Easter Jr. and former WBA 130 champ Javier Fortuna might be worth checking out in its own right.

Easter (20-0, 14 KO’s) enjoys almost a half foot advantage over his Dominican opponent in height, as well a borderline ridiculous eight inch edge in reach; however he has displayed a tendency to dispense with the idea of boxing exclusively at long range in order to take the fight directly to an opponent. If he chooses to do so against Fortuna, then the challenger’s edge in speed and his southpaw stance might cause him some difficulty-at least for a while.

That said, Fortuna (33-1-1, 23KO’s) had displayed a tendency to unravel when pressured, sometimes has a tendency to square up when launching flurries at his opponent, and occasionally loses his form by leaping into range to throw wide punches. That could spell disaster against a fighter who possesses legitimate one punch power in his right hand and a willingness to go after a fighter with everything he’s got once he has them hurt. Moreover, the fact that Fortuna wasn’t able to make weight yesterday makes me wonder about his conditioning and how he’ll fare as the fight progresses.

If Easter stays disciplined and chooses to box at range, I suspect it won’t be very long before he finds the range and lowers the boom on an opponent whose chin has already been checked at a lower weight. If his attacking temperament compels him to take the fight to his opponent and forsake his natural advantages, then the fight could last longer and be more competitive.

Either way, I suspect that Fortuna’s lack of conditioning and occasionally loss of form will be his undoing, and that regardless of Easter’s strategy, the fight with end with the challenger visiting the canvas at least once and remaining there as the official calls a halt to the proceedings.

So, just like the main event, the outcome of this fight strikes me as being a foregone conclusion…

And just like Spence Jr.-Peterson, I don’t think that will prevent me from enjoying the way that this spectacle will unfold.

Author’s Picks: Spence Jr. by 8th round stoppage, Easter Jr by 6th round KO.