Shawn Porter vs Errol Spence Jr.

Errol Spence Jr. (right) lands a right hand on the face of Shawn Porter on Saturday night. Spence earned a split decision victory to become the unified WBC and IBF world welterweight champion.

Professional boxing is a sport filled with titlists and champions. What’s the difference? A titlist holds a world title from one of the 8,364 major sanctioning bodies. Due to the sport’s reputation for shady promoters, greased wheels and backroom deals, a fighter who holds a world title is not always considered a legitimate champion by the boxing community.

To be considered a champion requires more than a belt around one’s waist. Championships have to be earned. Winning a vacant title over a sacrificial lamb may very well earn a fighter some flashy hardware, but it won’t earn them respect.

Many in the boxing community had little doubt that both Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. and “Showtime” Shawn Porter had earned their statuses as champions well before their Sept. 28 fight. However, some remained on the fence with Spence. While Porter’s resume was indisputably solid, Spence’s was a little lighter in terms of top-flight experience.

Nevertheless, Spence entered Saturday’s fight as the favorite. Yet he knew that he would have to walk through his toughest, and roughest, opponent to earn the respect he deserves. That’s just what he did.

In one of the most-exciting battles of the year, Spence (26-0-0, 21 KO) defeated Porter via split decision to unify the IBF and WBC World Welterweight titles. The scorecards were wildly different. Scores of 116-111 for Spence were turned in by judges Steve Weisfeld and Ray Danseco. They overruled a score of 115-112 for Porter by Larry Hazzard.

What is amazing is that despite the scoring differences, the three judges were in agreement on a total of seven rounds (2, 4-7, 11-12) in the bout. Many of the rounds were exceptionally close as neither man endeavored to cede too much ground. The result was a fascinating fight between two of the best welterweights in the world. Spence and Porter (30-3-1, 17 KO) kept up a frantic pace over 12-rounds that saw the two trade hard headshots and barrages of body blows.

As expected, Spence was the more accurate puncher during the fight. He landed 221 of 745 punches (29.7 percent) compared to 172 of 744 punches by Porter (23.1 percent). Though Spence threw one more punch than Porter, it was Porter who appeared to be the aggressor for much of the fight. This may be because Porter’s lunges, shoves and shoulders aren’t tracked by CompuBox.  

What was tracked was the lethal left hand Spence landed on Porter’s chin in the 11th round that sent “Showtime” to the canvas for the second time in his career. Porter didn’t end up flat on his back, as is the case in many knockdowns, but the punch short-circuited his legs and caused his left glove to touch the canvas (which prevented his butt from doing the same.)

Porter quickly regained his wits and finished the fight strong. However, the knockdown was the moment for many onlookers that solidified the night as belonging to Spence. By dropping the granite-chinned Porter, Spence cemented his rightful claim as legitimate champion who deserves to have his name on the short list for the best pound for pound fighter in the world

What’s next for Spence will be interesting. PBC stablemate and former two-division champion Danny Garcia was brought into the ring following the fight to challenge Spence. Garcia lost to Porter a year ago, but brings a completely different style that would make for a fairly interesting matchup.

Spence has previously called out the other two welterweight champions, Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford, in hopes of unifying the titles. He has also offered to “run it back” with Porter in a rematch. Whatever he and the matchmakers at PBC decide to do, you can bet that plenty of people will tune in for his next fight.

Shields aims for historic victory

Speaking of bona fide and respected champions, the GWOAT Claressa Shields will be in action this weekend attempting to make history. Shields (9-0-0, 2 KO) will attempt to become a three-division world champion in just her tenth professional fight. She’ll square off Saturday night (Oct. 5) in Flint, Mich. against No. 1 contender Ivana Habazin for the WBC and WBO women’s super welterweight titles. A victory would make her the fastest man or woman to accomplish such a feat. The current record is held by Vasyl Lomachenko, who accomplished the feat in just his twelfth fight.

Claressa Shields

Claressa Shields (left) will face Ivana Habazin on Saturday night as she attempts to become the fastest fighter, man or woman, to win world titles in three different divisions.

The 24 year-old Shields won the WBA and IBF super middleweight titles in just her fourth professional fight. She then dropped down to middleweight to win the same titles at 160-pounds in just her sixth pro scrap. Now she’s dropping down in weight once again in search of more hardware and history.

The fight will be televised by Showtime Championship Boxing at 8PM CST.

Dame vs Shaq

In a fisticuffs battle, Portland Trailblazers superstar Damian Lillard would be way out of his weight class trying to battle Shaquille O’Neal. When it comes to the mic though, Shaq Diesel might be the one to discover that Lillard is lyrically out of his league.

The basketball rapper beef kicked off when Lillard was asked to if he had “better music than Shaq” on the Joe Budden Podcast.

“I think I rap better than Shaq,” Lillard responded.

“People wasn’t looking at it like it’s a real rapper,” he continued. “It was like that’s Shaq rapping.” 

O’Neal wasted no time dropping a diss track aimed at Lillard on his Instagram page. The diss was surprisingly solid despite an old school feel.

“If you’re a – rapper, Dame/What the [heck] am I?/I’m accomplishments, you can’t reach/I’m too high,” O’Neal rapped.

“Call me when you win a back-to-back-to-back-to-back/Why would I want to be a rapper?/Rappers wanna be Shaq!”

Social media went crazy with O’Neal going after Lillard. Less than 24 hours later though, Dame D.O.L.L.A. came back with the heat.

Lillard released a response on his SoundClound page entitled “Reign Reign Go Away.”

“Nursery rhymes spitting/small car sitting/Icy Hot poster boy, TNT snitching,” Lillard raps with precision.

However, the kill shot may have come near the end of the song with following flurry.

“This is different era/you the past and you the past/Said yourself that I’m a Tesla/No longer need Diesel gas.”

“Kinda like the Cavs ain’t really need Diesel a--/And even in Miami, won that on the strength of Flash.”

Please cue the Supa Hot Fire memes. I’ve previously stated that Lillard has officially passed O’Neal as the greatest NBA rapper of all-time. Since O’Neal won’t pass the torch willingly, it looks as if Lillard will have to snatch it from his cold, gigantic hands.

Still, I’m here for the rap battle. After all, the NBA regular season is still a few weeks ago. This battle of bars will be much better than the preseason.

Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch online at stlamerican.com and on Twitter @ishcreates.

Ishmael H. Sistrunk is a columnist and the website coordinator for the St. Louis American and www.stlamerican.com.

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