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Teddy Atlas analyses Spence vs. Porter fight

Errol Spence Jr Shawn Porter Terence Crawford

By Kenneth Friedman: The welterweight unification fight between IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. and WBC belt holder Shawn Porter has 12 days to go before they meet up on September 28 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. There’s a lot of money to be made for both fighters if the contest brings in a lot of buys in their fight on Fox Sports Pay-Per-View.

There’s some skepticism in boxing circles whether this fight is big enough to be a big seller. Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) is coming off his worst performance in several years with his questionable 12 round split decision victory over Yordenis Ugas last March. Ugas both out-boxed and out-punched Porter, but found himself on the short end of the stick in the scoring for the fight.

Atlas discusses Porter changing his fighting style for Spence

“Porter is kind of showing you those moves against Ugas,” Atlas said to Fighthype when asked how Porter can beat Spence. “He kind of switched it up a little bit. He’s trying to box, trying to be cute, and trying to use his legs. And he’s trying to use the Jersey Joe Walcott [moves]. He’s hoping that’ll help him with the judges, and to give angles and confuse his opponent. You don’t need this guy to be spouting words right now in a press conference. He’s telling you. I think in some ways, Porter was screaming in his last fight telling you the answers. ‘At this point in my life, and this point in my career, I’m going to mix it up; I’m going to look for something else. I’m not just going to bring that pressure game.’

There’s a lot of wear and tear involved in that pressure game. Those miles start to accumulate on the odometer. I have to go with what he believes. The fighter shows me that he’s not sure that he can just bring that all out attack all night. So I would probably mix it up. I would mix up a little bit of boxing with a little bit of picking my spots,” said Atlas.

The fact that Porter, 31, has suddenly changed his fighting style after 11 years as a pro isn’t a good sign going into his unification fight with Spence. Up until Porter’s last fight with Cuban Ugas, he was a brawler, who was known for roughing up his opponents with the use of his head. Against Ugas, Porter went away from that, and spent the entire fight on the outside trying to box. Porter looked like a fish out of water with that fighting style. Although Porter won the fight, he didn’t look good. Boxing News 24 had Ugas winning by the score 117-111.

Spence more than just a body puncher

“I think Spence is already there. I believe in Spence,” said Atlas “This guy was an Olympian, and this guy went to London and beat Kell Brook. This guy has done everything that has been asked of him. I believe what I’ve seen. I don’t think he’s a mirage, and I think he’s a terrific body puncher. And I believe he’s more than that. He’s technically sound in a lot of areas. He can switch it up, and he can counter and box. He’s very versatile, and he can go get you. I believe he can do all those things, and believe he believes that he’s always going to do that. That’s enough for me,” said Atlas.

We saw in Spence’s last fight against Mikey Garcia that he’s quite adept at boxing from the outside, and using his skills to win rather than his power game. That was the first time in Spence’s seven year pro career in which he boxed an opponent for the majority of the fight. Spence did turn up the heat on Mikey in rounds 9 and 10, but he went away from that when he had him close to being knocked out. Some feel that Spence carried Mikey on purpose, because he didn’t want to be perceived as a bully trouncing a smaller guy.

Atlas favors Spence to beat Crawford

“It’ll be very interesting,” said Atlas when asked about a fight between Spence and Terence Crawford. “I love Crawford. He brings a different dimension to it. You’re talking about a guy that is tall and long, and he steps up in weight classes. A guy that is a winner, and a guy that is dynamic. And a guy that goes about his business in a different way where he controls range. He looks to set traps. And then he believes to, Crawford.

That would be an intriguing fight for me, because he believes too when it gets down to it, he can be a junkyard dog. Man, he can fight with the best of them. If you try and take something from him, he says, ‘I like to control range, I like to counter, and I like to have it my own way.’ Everyone wants to have what’s most comfortable for themselves,” said Atlas.

Crawford is one of those fighters that has sailed through 11 years of his career without ever facing a serious threat. That’s why it’s so difficult to know how good he is. The best guys that Crawford has fought has been Jeff Horn, Jose Benavidez and Yuriorkis Gamboa. Those fighters are not in the same class as Spence, and some of the other top welterweights. That’s why there’s a huge question mark over Crawford’s head in the eyes of boxing fan.

You can’t pick Crawford to beat Spence when he’s still fighting record-padding opposition in his 11th year as a pro. Crawford’s next fight on December 14th is against another weak opponent in Egidijus Kavaliauskas on ESPN+. It’s pretty clear at this point that Crawford’s destiny with Top Rank is to spend the remainder of his career fighting this type of opposition unless he moves up to 154 or 160.

Teddy raves about Crawford’s instincts

“Yeah, Crawford would love to have that,” said Atlas. “But when he doesn’t have that, and he has to go the other place, he has shown you, and I’ve seen it, he’ll say, ‘freak it, I’ll fight you right here. I’ll do whatever I got.’ He’s got one other thing that might be even better than what Spence has. He’s got tremendous instincts. Spence is physical, he’s technically solid, he’s an Olympian, and he’s put together the right way. He believes, but so does Crawford. He’s got an instinctual presence to him, and I haven’t seen that in too many fighters. He makes it up as he does it.

Not too many people can do that. He’s like a Louis Armstrong, that can create a new tone right there on the stage with a horn that you’ve never heard before. And that’s what Crawford can do, and that’s pretty damn special. That’s why I can’t close my eyes and say Spence. I favor Spence in that fight. The problem now in boxing is the best fights can’t be made too easily, because you’ve got different sides of the street, you know?” said Atlas.

Crawford is a counter puncher, and that means he’s going to be looking to take advantage of his opponents’ aggression. Against the bigger, stronger and equally skilled Spence, Crawford might not be rugged enough.

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