Errol Spence Jr. is the new unified welterweight champion of the world, but boy did Shawn Porter make him work for it.
‘The Truth’ was made to fight completely alternate tactics to what he’s used to and Spence passed the test – just.
Porter closed the space between the fighters brilliantly for the duration and won some rounds on dogged determination alone.
Sessions went back and forth from the tightest of first stanzas onwards as the contest swung back and forth throughout.
Going into the eleventh, Porter was one up on the WBN scorecard until a flash knockdown caused a cruel twist.
It was then Spence holding all the aces into the final three minutes as Porter tired towards the end.
After the final bell, the crowd gasped as Jimmy Lennon Jr. confirmed a split decision.
Porter got it on one card 115-112. Tellingly, Spence won on two cards 116-111.
A rematch of what will almost certainly be the 2019 Fight of the Year should have been a gimme for handler Al Haymon in 2020.
Not so, as immediately after the verdict, Danny Garcia climbed into the ring and was announced as Spence’s next foe.
The news is a blow, not only to Porter but Manny Pacquiao too. The ‘Pacman’ firmly wanted the winner for a three-belt unification.
Garcia being pushed maybe the clearest indication yet that Pacquiao is focused on landing Floyd Mayweather again.
If that fails, Pacquiao could take his pick from a two-man shortlist of Porter and Amir Khan.
In the co-feature, David Benavidez became a two-time world super-middleweight champion at the tender age of 22.
The Mexican star wore down Anthony Dirrell to regain the WBC title at 168 pounds.
A cut opened up in the sixth round over Dirrell’s right eye as the American struggled with the height and strength of Benavidez.
In the end, the gash was telling. After taking punishment for three rounds and surviving two corner checks of the cut, no fewer than two ringside physicians jumped on the apron to urged referee Thomas Taylor to act.
Benavidez is on top of the world once again.
Mario Barrios moved closer to a bonafide world title shot with a unanimous decision win over Batyr Akhmedov.
Dropping Akhmedov in the fourth and last rounds, those knockdowns proved crucial to Barrios gaining victory.
Akhmedov came on strong inbetween hitting the canvas, but it was Barrios who got the win 116-111, 115-111 and 114-112 with the judges.
In the Pay-Per-View opener, Josesito Lopez exploded on John Molina Jr. in the opening thirty seconds of the contest.
An early right hand began an unraveling by Molina, who was down twice and really should have been counted down again late in the first round.
Sensing the end could be nigh, Lopez looked for huge shots in the second in a bid to get Molina out of there.
Weathering the storm, Molina managed to stay in the bout despite shipping punishment through to round five.
Molina enjoyed his most successful session in that fifth but Lopez remained in control.
More solid shots connected in the sixth as Lopez kept up the pressure and Molina looked for one big equalizer to give him a chance.
The seventh spelled the beginning of the end as Molina took heavy punishment and went down yet again.
Inbetween the seventh and eighth, the ringside physician wanted Molina pulled out, but the tough Californian asked for one more round.
Lopez then stepped in with serious punches in the eighth and Ray Corona had seen enough.