New York (AFP) – Errol Spence battered Lamont Peterson on the way to an eighth-round technical knockout on Saturday to retain his International Boxing Federation welterweight world title.
Spence strengthened his reputation as one of the best of boxing’s rising stars, scoring his 10th straight win inside the distance as he improved to 23-0 with 20 knockouts.
Spence, making his first defence of the title he seized from Britain’s Kell Brook in May, dominated from the opening bell at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, pummelling Peterson with combinations to the head and body.
He sent former two-time world champion Peterson to the canvas in the fifth round with a combination that included a left hook to the head.
Both of Peterson’s eyes were swelling shut by the seventh round, and as the bell sounded to start the eighth Peterson’s trainer Barry Hunter called for it to be stopped by referee Harvey Dock.
Dock waved the fight off at one second into the eighth round.
“I want to thank Lamont Peterson,” Spence said. “A lot of guys did turn down the fight and he took it, like a real warrior. I commend him for that.”
While Spence has been tipped as a future pound-for-pound king, he says he’s got plenty of room for improvement.
“I still can improve a lot on my defence,” he said. “I just have to keep perfecting my skills and keep progressing. You’re going to see a better Errol Spence next time I get in the ring.”
Spence is hoping to showcase his improved skills against Keith Thurman, holder of two welterweight belts who has been sidelined since out-pointing Danny Garcia last March because of elbow surgery.
“Everybody knows I’ve been waiting on ‘Sometimes’ Thurman,” Spence said, a poke at Thurman’s “One Time” nickname. “Since I was 15-0 I’ve been calling this guy out and he keeps making excuses. Let’s get it on.”
On the undercard, IBF lightweight world champion Robert Easter Jr. remained unbeaten with a split-decision victory over Javier Fortuna.
Easter’s title wasn’t at stake after Fortuna failed to make weight on Friday. But Dominican southpaw Fortuna made things awkward for the 26-year-old champion with his counter-punching style.
Easter was largely unable to use his superior height and reach, but the point deducted from Fortuna early in the bout for repeated blows to the back of Easter’s head proved costly.
One ringside judge scored it 114-113 to Easter, another saw it 114-113 for Fortuna and a third made it 115-112 for Easter — who heard a few boos as the results were read out.
“The fans are booing because I didn’t get the knockout,” said Easter, who improved to 21-0 with 14 knockouts while Fortuna fell to 33-2 with one drawn and 23 knockouts.
“It was tough,” Easter said. “He was sitting back, trying to counter-punch. He really wasn’t throwing nothing. That made it difficult for me to keep chasing this guy around.
“But we got the ‘W’. That’s all that matters.”