A rising contender the last time he took the ring at Barclays Center, Errol Spence Jr. returned to Brooklyn in January as a world champion and reaffirmed his status as a powerhouse in the welterweight division.
Spence registered his 10th straight stoppage with his eighth-round TKO victory over former two-division champion Lamont Peterson, retaining his IBF championship belt in his first title defense. He improved to 23-0 with his 20th knockout.
“I want to thank Lamont Peterson,” said Spence in the ring after the fight. “A lot of guys, they turned down the fight, and he took it, like a real warrior, a real fighter, and I commend him for that.”
Spence dominated across the board, winning every round on the judges’ cards and putting up huge advantages in punches thrown (526 to 158) and landed (161 to 45).
“My coach came up with a great game plan,” said Spence, “and I just followed through with it. He told me to keep my distance, use my jab and keep my range, and just keep my composure if he tried to bring it on.”
Spence wore down Peterson with steady punishment. The challenger showed some brief aggressiveness in the third round, but it didn’t last. A left put Peterson on the mat in the fifth round, a sign that the end could be coming shortly. Peterson fought through the sixth and seventh, but his trainer, Barry Hunter, called the fight at the opening of the eighth round.
“He was getting his shots off early, pretty much established everything with the jab,” said Peterson. “I pretty much knew that was the case, but I was looking to get inside and start working. But he was the better man tonight.”
Robert Easter was assured of retaining his lightweight title after Javier Fortuna failed to make weight, but the pair combined for an engaging battle even without the belt on the line. And it was closely contested too. Easter emerged with a split decision, winning 115-112 and 114-113 and losing 114-113 on the remaining card. A second-round point deduction from Fortuna ended up being the difference between Easter’s victory and a draw.
“It was tough,” said Easter. “Javier is a two-time former world champion. He made it tough. He was sitting back trying to hold and counter-punch. He really wasn’t throwing nothing. That made it difficult for me to keep chasing this guy around.”
But Fortuna landed 120 punches, just 10 shy of Easter’s 130, and at a higher percentage. In a fight that looked as close as it was scored, the two fighters engaged in consistent exchanges throughout.
Brooklyn resident Adam Kownacki remained undefeated by closing out a heavyweight slugfest with Iago Kiladze with a sixth-round knockout. Light heavyweight contender Marcus Browne chalked up his second-straight quick knockout, finishing off Francy Ntetu in the first round, six months after knocking out Seanie Monaghan in the second.
“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.”