Errol Spence Jr. likely moved up a couple of notches on the various pound-for-pound lists with a dominant showing against Lamont Peterson before an announced crowd of 12,107 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Making the first defense of the IBF world welterweight title he won in England with an 11th round stoppage of Kell Brook, Spence won every round before Peterson’s trainer Barry Hunter instructed referee Harvey Dock to shut it down just before the start of the eighth round.
Spence, who improved to 23-0 (19) knocked Peterson down in the fifth with a left hook. By round seven, Peterson’s right eye was nearly closed and Spence was toying with him. While Spence was a big favorite, he wasn’t expected to win with such alacrity against Peterson (35-4-1), a former IBF/WBA 140-pound champion whose only previous losses were to world class opponents Tim Bradley, Lucas Matthysse, and Danny Garcia.
The co-main between Robert Easter Jr and Javier Fortuna was designed as an IBF world lightweight title defense by Easter, but became something less when the challenger from the Dominican Republic failed to make weight. But Fortuna was all business inside the ring, negating Easter’s 7 ½-inch longer reach with a swarming, in-and-out attack that continually frustrated his much taller opponent. When the smoke cleared, Easter improved to 21-0 with a victory by split decision (115-112, 114-113, 113-114), but was excoriated for fighting a lazy fight and lost prestige in the court of public opinion.
The fight would have been a draw if referee Ricky Gonzalez hadn’t deducted a point from Fortuna in the second round for hitting behind the head. Most ringsiders thought Fortuna pulled it out with a strong finish. In the later rounds, he got the best of the exchanges. The crowd booed the decision.
It was only the second career loss for Fortuna (31-2-1), a former WBA featherweight and super featherweight champion who had won four straight coming in since suffering an 11th round stoppage at the hands of Jason Sosa in Beijing in one of the biggest upsets of 2016.
Staten Island southpaw Marcus Browne made short work of 35-year-old Congolese-Canadian Francy Ntetu, putting him away in the very first round. Browne dropped Ntetu midway through the opening frame and then hammered him with combinations until referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stepped in to stop the carnage.
Browne, a 2012 Olympian, improved to 21-0 (16) and eliminated all doubts that he is a force to be reckoned with in the light heavyweight division.
In a heavyweight contest between fighters with roots in Eastern Europe, Adam Kownacki 17-0 (14) stopped Iago Kiladze (26-2) in the sixth frame. A right uppercut followed by an overhand right knocked Kiladze to the deck. He beat the count, but was no longer competitive and the ref properly stopped the fight with the blessing of Kiladze’s trainer Freddie Roach.
Kiladze started strong, bloodying Kownacki’s nose in the opening round, but Kownacki, who came in at a puffy 260 pounds, 39 ½ pounds more than his Ukrainian opponent, wore him down with his heavier artillery. Born in Poland, but a resident of Brooklyn since the age of seven, Kownacki is a former two-time New York City Golden Gloves champion. If he stays in shape, he could create some noise in the heavyweight division.
In a welterweight contest, Anthony Peterson, Lamont’s younger sibling by 14 months, pounded out a workmanlike 10-round decision over Columbia’s Luis Eduardo Florez. Peterson (38-1) has an outstanding record, but he has been content to play second fiddle to his older brother and his career just keeps sputtering along.
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PHOTO courtesy of Showtime Boxing.