Car crash helped Spence to improve as a fighter, says Porter

Errol Spence is a better fighter today than he was before the car crash that threatened his career, according to Shawn Porter.

Porter was Spence’s last opponent – on the occasion of his most difficult fight – in September 2019, shortly before Spence, without a seatbelt from behind the wheel of his Ferrari, was involved in a crash that could have cost him his life.

He was instead diagnosed only with a fractured jaw, facial lacerations and chipped teeth – the retina detachment that later required surgery potentially occurred at the same time – and has since continued to fight at the highest level.

Suggestions regardless persist that Spence cannot be the same fighter he was on course to be before the first of two significant car crashes and the eye injury that also threatened his career. Aged 33 at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena against Terence Crawford on Saturday he is preparing for his biggest fight, but Porter, who also lost to Crawford before retiring in 2021, is convinced that the opposite is true.

“Errol’s better in 2023 than he was in 2019 when we fought,” he said. “He’s matured – even from a standpoint of just knowing who he is as a fighter. He’s much stronger. Much more everything than he was when we fought. It’s perfect timing [for them to fight at their collective peak]. 

“They’ve [Spence’s career-threatening injuries] helped him. Having that traumatic situation happen to him allowed him to let go of some of the things that he was doing and helped him grow. That [car] accident took out his teeth; took some time away from him inside the ring. 

“But what it couldn’t take from him is he’s a born fighter. Just like Crawford. That’s why this fight’s 50-50. That’s why this is the best fight to be made in boxing. You wanted this fight three years ago – this is the best time for this fight to be made.”

Porter lost via split-decision to Spence in 2019, two years before, in his final fight, being stopped by Crawford. 

“In 2019 when I fought Errol it was actually the opposite [to how impressed I was when I fought Crawford],” he said. “I wasn’t impressed when I fought Errol. Coming out of the ring with Terence it was, ‘He’s the real deal – he’s everything I thought he was, and I just witnessed it first hand’. There was one moment that happened in that fight [with Spence] that separated the winner from the loser in that one, and I don’t think I’d be where I am had I won that fight. 

“My life would have taken some other turns and I might not be exactly where I am right now. I’m a star among boxing fans, but I can still go to the mall by myself; I can go out to eat with my family; I can get on planes by myself. To be at the top but not continue to have to live as someone who is expected to live at the top – that gave everybody a great taste of who I was inside the ring.

“[Spence is] big for the weight class [147lbs], and really, really strong, too. That’s the separation between him and just about everybody else that I fought. He won’t break down. He’s big; he’s strong. He can wear the punishment, and he can give it as well. That’s what makes him so great. [He’s] like a crash-test dummy.”