IBF welterweight world champion TKOs former two-division titleholder, immediately calls out fellow champ Keith Thurman for future 147-pound unification bout.
Brooklyn, New York — Towards the end of the second round, Errol Spence Jr. could hardly contain himself. He smiled. The IBF welterweight world champion was in his element, punching in a comfortable, rhythmic flow. This was everything, you could tell, that Spence wanted and expected from Lamont Peterson.
It brought out his best.
Spence Jr., deep down, knew something else, too. Pretty much the same thing that the 12,107 fans knew that packed the Barclays Center Saturday night on the Showtime-televised card: He was better, regardless of anything Peterson tried.
Calculating, measured, calm and supremely confident, showing some improved footwork, Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KOs) took apart a very good—and very brave—Peterson, whose cornerman, Barry Hunter, wisely stopped the fight at :01 of the eighth round. It was the second time Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KOs) had been stopped in his career, and the victory extended Spence’s knockout streak to 10 straight.
By the fifth round, Peterson’s right eye was swollen shut as he suffered a knockdown, thanks to a classic Spence left hook that caught the former two-division titleholder on the temple. Spence’s punches landed with that hard thud only special fighters possess. By the eighth, both of Peterson’s eyes were swollen.
As he was throughout the whole promotion, Spence was very respectful of Peterson.
“I want to thank Lamont,” Spence said. “A lot of guys turned down the fight and he took it like a real warrior and I commend him for that. My coach [Derrick James] came with a great game plan and I just followed through with it. Keep my range, keep my composure.
“I know Lamont—he’s a tough fighter. He’s willing to die in there. You saw his coach had to stop the fight because he wanted to keep fighting.
“I still can improve a lot on my defense. I just have to keep perfecting my skills and keep progressing. You’d going to see a better Errol Spence next time I get in the ring. Everybody knows I’ve been waiting on (Keith) ‘Sometimes’ Thurman. Since I was 15-0, I’ve been calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses. Let’s get it on.
Hunter, who looks at Peterson like a son, wasn’t about to see him take any more punishment.
“It was really hard, but if you know Lamont, you know he was not going to give up,” Hunter said. “So I had to stop it. At the end of the day this is my son right here. And there’s nothing more valuable than his well-being. If it comes to him or winning, I pick him. I care about him.”
“ Everybody knows I’ve been waiting on (Keith) ‘Sometimes’ Thurman. Since I was 15-0, I’ve been calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses. Let’s get it on. ” IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol Spence Jr.
One telling stat that said everything about this fight: Spence landed more punches than Peterson threw, connecting on 161 shots, while Peterson was able to get off 158 punches.
The fourth round saw Spence display some nifty foot movement, turning Peterson. In the fifth, Spence dropped Peterson, and the stopwatch began. Before the seventh, Peterson’s corner took a long look at his right eye. It’s already hell to fight Spence with two eyes, but trying to defend him with the use of only one?
“He was getting the shots on me early. He was the better man tonight,” Peterson said. “I always respect Barry’s decision. If he asks me to fight a million people, I will. If he asks me to stop. I will stop. I will never question his decision. I know he has my best interests at heart.
On retiring, the Washington D.C. native said, “That’s something that I would have to think about in the next few weeks.”
The result came as a little shock to Spence.
“I didn't know I would dominate like that,” he said. “I expected to get the knockout, but this was a great performance. We were facing a great fighter like Lamont Peterson and we did well in there. I could tell Lamont was wobbling before I got him down. It was just a great feeling to put on a strong performance.
“I want Keith Thurman. He has two of the belts and we both have big names. It's an easy fight to make and I want it.”
Lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. hangs on to beat Javier Fortuna by split-decision
Robert Easter Jr. is a physical anomaly. The 26-year-old from Toledo, Ohio, is a confounding 5-foot-11 lightweight champion and takes advantage of all the perks that come along with being so tall in such a small weight class. It means facing off against shorter foes like 5-foot-6 southpaw Javier Fortuna, as he did in the co-main event Saturday night.
There is one drawback, however, from being so rangy and that’s the tendency to over reach. Easter (21-0, 14 KOs) did that a few times against the experienced former two-division champ. It brought on some tricky moments for Easter, like in the sixth round, when he survived a brutal counter left hook that sent him reeling.
But overall, Easter fell into a comfort zone, began going to the body more and eventually broke down the very game Fortuna (33-2-1, 23 KOs)—who missed the chance to win a record third title by a Dominican-born boxer when he missed weight on Friday, making the bout a non-title affair.
Easter won by a 12-round split-decision, getting the nod on the scorecards of judges Glenn Feldman (114-113) and Kevin Morgan (115-112), while judge John McKaie had it for Fortuna, 114-113.
“It was a tough fight, he's a former world champion for a reason,” Easter said. “We made it tough trying to counter punch. He wasn't throwing much and it made it difficult for me to chase this guy around. I couldn't get the knockout but we got the win and that's all that matter. I knew he was going to run once he felt my power. He just wanted to grab and hold the whole fight.
I want to fight the champions and unify this belt. Fights like these aren't in my game plan. I'm ready for Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares to sign the contract. No one can beat me. He just ran and held all fight. I apologize that I didn't get the knockout but the win is all that matters.”
Fortuna, who put on a great display, was understandably angry by the result, which was thoroughly jeered by the Barclays Center crowd.
“The public knows what happened here,” Fortuna said. “They booed because they know that I won this fight. If he's a man let's fight again at 135 pounds. I will definitely make the weight. I didn't give myself enough time to train.”
Easter didn’t use his reach advantage as consistently as he should have, and Fortuna went through spells of inactivity.
In the ninth, Easter used his superior size to measure then sting Fortuna, who had a point taken away for holding and hitting in the second round, with a right, then crowded him against the ropes, scoring to the body.
But in the first minute of the 10th, Easter was lured into slugging mode. He forgot he was five inches taller and had a 7 ½-inch edge in reach. It made for some intriguing moments in the last 30 seconds of the round, as the two plowed away at each other inside.
In the 11th, the two engaged in close quarters again. Both landed great shots. Fortuna even snuck in a left that caught Easter’s attention for a moment.
Fortuna, sensing the fight was slipping away, came at Easter in the final round. He got up in Easter’s grill and pressured him. Easter had the wherewithal to bear the brunt of the attack and his record unscathed.
Unbeaten Marcus Browne scores another quick stoppage
Unbeaten light heavyweight Marcus Browne (21-0, 16 KOs) made quick work of Francy Ntetu (17-2, 4 KOs) in preliminary action, as he dropped and battered his opponent early to force referee Arthur Mercante to stop the bout at just 2:15 of the first round. Fighting for a recored 12th time at the Barclays Center, the 27 year-old Staten Island native kept his unblemished record intact by utilizing his powerful left hand on the overmatched Ntetu.
Browne established his dominance from the start, landing a clean overhand left that dropped Ntetu halfway through the round. The Montreal, Québec native was never able to regain his feet and found himself cornered against the ropes just thirty seconds later. A barrage of powerful combinations landed on the defenseless Ntetu left the referee with little option but to stop the fight with 45 seconds remaining in round number one.
"We worked for this win. He walked into a sure shot and I made him pay," said Browne. "The overhand left caught him and that was the beginning of the end for him. I knew he was hurt.
"I need a world title shot. I'm ready to take on any of the champions. I don't have any preferences. I'm glad I put together another great performance here at Barclays Center. I'm going to keep improving until I really become Mr. Barclays Center."
Heavyweight Adam Kownacki records another hometown KO
In the opening bout, undefeated Adam Kownacki (17-0, 14 KOs) delivered a brutal knockout of Iago Kiladze (26-2, 18 KOs) at 2:08 of the sixth round of their heavyweight matchup. Kownacki, born in Lomza, Poland but fighting out of Brooklyn, New York, enjoyed the support of his hometown crowd as he steadily wore Kiladze down.
Kownacki was the more aggressive and accurate of the two fighters, landing 43 percent of his power punches and 35 percent of his total punches, compared to just 30 percent and 18 percent, respectively, for Kiladze. Despite a bloody nose that Kownacki suffered in the first round, the Polish heavyweight began to pour it on and tire Kiladze with a series of uppercuts and one-two combinations in the fourth round. The action-packed bout came to an end when Kownacki connected on a combination of two uppercuts and a right hand that sent Kiladze on his back in the final minute of the sixth round. After a stunned Kiladze returned to his feet, referee Shada Murdaugh called the fight at the suggestion of the ringside doctor.
"I'm so thankful to all my Polish fans who come out and give me that extra support", said Kownacki, who fought in front of hundreds of his compatriots. "I'm going to keep fighting for the fans and give everyone a great show
"I think I made the fight a lot harder than I should have. It's another learning experience and I got the win. That's all that matters."
For a complete look at Spence Jr. vs Peterson, visit our fight page.