The Monday Matchmaker: Spence, Porter, Dubois & more
Photo: Image via Getty/Jayne Kamin-Oncea
As the dust settles on each big fight weekend, The Monday Matchmaker aims to discuss the best options that, in victory or defeat, each boxer has available to them, and predicts their likely next steps... This week Tom Craze on Errol Spence Jr, Shawn Porter and Daniel Dubois among others...
Errol Spence Jr
Any thoughts – or, perhaps, dreams - of Spence vs Crawford racing through fans’ minds on Saturday night were quickly extinguished by the awkward sighting of Danny Garcia climbing into the ring ahead of the post-fight interviews. His introduction, which was met with boos by the Staples Center crowd, tells the story, but in truth it’s not a bad fight – it’s just not 'The Fight'.
Expect January to come and go and Spence to notch another win, more comfortably this time, before the PBC welterweight carousel is given yet another rotation. In truth, it feels probable Spence moves to 154lbs sometime in 2020, which would leave the Crawford fight all but dead in the water.
Even in defeat, Porter - over 12 rounds of tremendously entertaining ebb-and-flow - made a mockery of the odds that listed him as a 6/1 underdog, and will see his stock rise dramatically. Indeed, were an immediate rematch with Spence the next move, few would protest.
When on his game, as he was this past weekend, Porter represents a hellacious test for any welterweight, and the queue to fight him will be a short one. What seems certain is that Porter’s next opponent will be an in-house choice, and a rematch against Yordenis Ugas would, given the contentious decision that settled the first fight, perhaps be the most relevant from a sporting point of view. More likely is that Porter will look to get straight back in the W column, and Josesito Lopez, himself a big winner on Saturday’s undercard, would fit the bill.
El Bandera Roja - ‘Red Flag’ – took just nine rounds to put Dirrell on the verge of waving a white one. At the tender age of 22, and with as many wins to match (with 19 of them coming inside the distance), Benavidez is an explosive, prodigious talent. Granted, he can sometimes look a little crude, but once when the Arizonan begins to shift through the gears, he’s a very difficult man to beat.
An all-PBC unification with IBF champion Caleb Plant is an intriguing one, but it won’t be next: instead, Benavidez will likely take on his mandatory, Avni Yildirim.
Hampered by a cut for the second fight in succession, Dirrell’s second career defeat might have been a heavy one, but the chances of it affecting his opportunities are slim.
The Michigan man will point to the fact that he has only ever lost to those thought to be among the best in class at the time, and will undoubtedly get further chances at world level should he wish to take them. A PBC favourite, Dirrell has been a dependable cog in that promotional machine for several years. An obvious choice for a rebound might be stablemate Alfredo Angulo, back in the mix after a surprise winner over Peter Quillin in the past fortnight.
Despite wilting late on from the relentless pressure applied by Akhmedov, the popular Texan proved that, even with a step up in class, he has the type of skillset worthy of his backers’ faith in him. Still just 24, Barrios will have many easier nights than this, but his size alone means that he’s likely to be a tough assignment for the chasing pack at 10st.
Picking up the WBA’s secondary ‘Regular’ title means that his options are plentiful. However, with three world champions at 140lb now recognised by that organisation alone, the sensible next move – and one that can therefore probably be ruled out – is a meeting with Alberto Puello, the recently-crowned ‘Interim’ beltholder, to help simplify the picture.
Were it not bookended by being on the wrong end of a pair of flash knockdowns, Akhmedov’s rousing second-half performance would have gone down as one of the best of the night. All is not lost, though. For most, Saturday will have been a first glimpse of the Uzbek-born southpaw, and his fan-friendly style will have garnered plenty of new admirers.
With the significant backing of World of Boxing, it’s likely that Akhmedov – still just eight fights into his pro career – will continue to be shuttled along at pace. Currently flanked by two Uzbeks, Shohjahon Ergashev and Shakhram Giyasov, in the upper echelons of the WBA rankings, his handlers might first seek to consolidate his position against Cletus Seldin, the sanctioning body’s #10 and a man with a crumb of name value in a fairly obscure bunch.
Friday night’s main event at the Royal Albert Hall only served to underline something we already knew: Dubois is several leagues above the likes of Ebenezer Tetteh. Having now wiped out exactly 25% of all currently active Ghanaian heavyweights (according to BoxRec), the Londoner and his team should be making no further forays into the west African scene in search of similar cannon fodder.
Assuming the ‘All the Belts’ mission remains an active one, Dubois – pending any defence of a belt already acquired, including the Lonsdale – will next be looking to European level. Given that the EBU last week ordered Joe Joyce vs. Marco Huck for the same title, things suddenly become muddied.
The consensus seems to be that Dubois is already too good for another domestic match-up, so an attempt to first acclimatise before challenging the best on the continent would be prudent. The name of Otto Wallin - following his creditable effort against Tyson Fury - has been mentioned, and that’d be a good test, as would someone as road-tested as Christian Hammer.