After more than a year away from the ring, unified welterweight world titlist Errol Spence Jr. returns to defend his WBC and IBF belts against Danny Garcia on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) defeated Shawn Porter in September 2019 and as talks were heating up for his next fight, Spence was involved in a one-car accident that left him hospitalized with lacerations on his face and broken teeth. He was charged with driving while intoxicated. Spence was able to return to training in March, but there are a lot of questions about his ability to take punches after the accident.
Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs), is a former junior welterweight lineal champion and welterweight world titlist. He has lost his past two attempts to recapture a 147-pound belt in close decision loses to Porter and Keith Thurman, but had a dominant performance in a one-sided victory over Ivan Redkach in January.
In the co-main event, Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora takes on Habib Ahmed in a WBC junior middleweight eliminator. Fundora (15-0-1, 10 KOs) has two victories thus far in 2020, a unanimous decision over Daniel Lewis in February and a sixth-round KO against Nathaniel Gallimore in August. Ahmed (27-1-1, 18 KOs) replaced original opponent Jorge Cota this week after Cota tested positive for COVID-19.
Also on the PPV undercard, Josesito Lopez (37-9, 20 KOs) takes on Francisco Santana (25-8-1, 12 KOs) in a welterweight battle, and Eduardo Ramirez (23-2-3, 10 KOs) faces Miguel Flores (24-3, 12 KOs) in a WBA featherweight eliminator.
Ben Baby provides recaps and analysis from the action as it happens.
Fight in progress: Josesito Lopez vs. Francisco Santana 10 rounds, welterweights
Ramirez stops Flores in featherweight eliminator
Eduardo Ramirez had the most stunning finish of the night. Just seconds into the fifth round, Ramirez threw a right hook that Miguel Flores never saw coming. The punch was so devastating that it split Flores’ upper lip open and sent blood spewing as Flores staggered to his feet.
Despite Flores (24-4, 12 KOs) slowly rising to his feet, referee Lawrence Cole stopped him from continuing, in what was likely a prudent decision despite the momentum Flores built after a slow start. By winning the WBA featherweight title eliminator, Ramirez (24-2-3, 10 KOs) put himself in good position to fight for that sanctioning body’s belt in the near future.
Avelar dominates Lukas
Isaac Avelar won a lopsided unanimous decision over late replacement Sakaria Lukas, with scorecards of 98-92 (three times). The big difference in this fight was the power disparity between Avelar and Lukas. Avelar landed some big punches early and found success often with his straight left hand out of a southpaw stance.
Early on, Avelar was able to move Lukas with ease. However, as the fight entered the middle rounds, Lukas found his rhythm and was accurate with his right hand down the middle. If Lukas (23-1, 16 KOs) had slightly more power, and was perhaps a little younger, he might have had a chance to pick up a decision or even a stoppage against Avelar (17-2, 10 KOs). But “Canelito” was able to do more than enough to avoid any serious threat of defeat.
Mielnicki dominates Pulluaim, stays unbeaten
Vito Mielnicki Jr. tried to push for an early knockout over Steven Pulluaim, but despite a couple of early knockdowns and a hurt opponent, Mielnicki (7-0, 4 KOs) settled for a unanimous decision. The bout was scored 60-52 on all three cards, giving Mielnicki a victory in his first fight under famed trainer Joe Goossen.
The 18-year-old from New Jersey landed a right hook that dropped Pulluaim — a punch Pulluaim felt landed behind the head. The next round, Pulluaim went to the canvas after a punch to the beltline that he felt was a bit low. Pulluaim (5-3, 1 KO) was able to stay on his feet the rest of the fight, but was no match for the young prospect.
Delgado upsets Brooks in split decision win
The Spence camp is hoping the start to Saturday night’s TV undercard isn’t an omen for the team for the rest of the evening. Burley Brooks, who is under the tutelage of Spence trainer Derrick James, suffered a rather surprising upset loss against Marco Delgado.
Delgado won in a split decision, 59-53, 55-57, 59-53, in a fight that was nowhere near as close as the scorecards indicated. Despite a severe height and reach disadvantage, Delgado was able to get inside easily and landed big hooks and power shots in nearly every round, including in the second when Brooks was hobbled by a left hook to the top of the head. Brooks was docked two points for low blows, which made judge Javier Alvarez’s scorecard in his favor even more puzzling. It’s a great moment for Delgado (7-1, 5 KOs) and one that should be a major learning experience for Brooks (6-1, 5 KOs) as he continues his career.
Still to come:
- Title fight: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Danny Garcia, 12 rounds, for Spence’s WBC and IBF welterweight titles
- Sebastian Fundora vs. Habib Ahmed, 12 rounds, WBC junior middleweight eliminator
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