Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter are part of a glorious welterweight dynasty

When Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter step into the ring for one of 2019’s most hotly-anticipated fights this Saturday night, they will do so with a rich vein of divisional history behind them.

Welterweight continues to be boxing’s most stacked division, and theories abound for how it retains its spot as the marquee weight class in the sport. It may be as simple as the fact that the ideal height for a welterweight — around 5’8 or 5’9 — correlates strongly with the average size of males worldwide, resulting in a deeper potential pool.

In addition to that abundance of natural welterweights, it may also be the easiest division to cut down to. Men in their twenties and thirties who are in professional, athletic shape can comfortably walk around at 160-165 pounds, making the cut to the welterweight limit of 147 relatively simple.

But leave biology out of the equation for a moment. WBC titleholder Porter, who will meet Spence at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on FOX Pay-Per-View, believes the welterweight dynasty comes down to a matter of aesthetics.

“It is the perfect combination of what people like to see in boxing,” Porter told me during a telephone conversation. “At welterweight, you still have the dynamic speed and agility, the hand speed and finesse of a smaller fighter, but with everyone in that division you have knockout power and the ability to finish a fight.”

At its best, that combination of speed and brutality has the capacity to produce some of the fight game’s most compelling drama — an intricate, high-level chess match, with the lingering twist that it could end at any time with one crushing blow.

Welterweights have always produced entertaining fights, with the right mixture of athleticism and force. In turn, those thrilling fights have produced superstars, especially in recent years. No two figures in boxing have been more influential over the past decade than Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, both of whom eventually settled at 147 after dabbling in other divisions.

“For anyone in the vicinity of welterweight, it is the place to play if you want to make it big,” Lance Pugmire, senior boxing writer for The Athletic, told me. “Even going back into history, it’s where superstars make their name and build their legacy.”

Truly, a delve into the history books shows a treasure trove of elites, including two of the very best pound-for-pound fighters of all time in Sugar Ray Robinson and Henry Armstrong.

Sugar Ray Leonard is also up there, while more modern luminaries such as Mayweather, Pacquiao, Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto all held titles, followed by the likes of today’s pound-for-pound stars such as Spence and Terence Crawford. Porter may have two losses on his record, but he is a two-time champion and has been a mainstay of the division for nearly a decade.

“Welterweight is always the division that people are paying attention to and getting noticed,” former welterweight champ Keith Thurman said. Thurman handed Porter his first career loss in 2016, recently surrendered his own undefeated record to Pacquiao, and will be part of the FOX PPV analysis team. “It has been that way all through my career, before my career, and it will continue long into the future. To me, it is boxing at its best, and Spence-Porter has the potential to be a great welterweight fight.”

Spence is a rising star and unusually large for the class. He has won each of his 25 fights and continues to look ever more dominant. But it would be a monumental mistake to overlook Porter, who has a newfound maturity at the age of 31 and may have the style to give his highly-touted rival fits.

Spence is a -800 favorite to win, according to FOX Bet, but Porter is a live underdog worth paying attention to. After losing to Thurman, he has won four straight, and his capacity for unpredictable movement is unlike anything Spence has faced previously.

“These are the kind of fights we want to see,” elite trainer and FOX analyst Joe Goossen said. “They are both world champions. Porter has done a lot at welterweight and he is not finished. He wants to prove he is the true champion. Spence wants to keep his undefeated record and unify the titles. Reputations on the line. I expect action.”

The heavyweight division has always garnered mainstream attention for boxing and that storied weight class is also flourishing these days. Andy Ruiz’s upset of Anthony Joshua brought another thrilling world champion to our attentions. Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are giants with star power and are expected to have a rematch of their initial draw at some point in 2020.

Yet welterweight continues to be where the action is. Mayweather, for all the talk of a potential second Pacqiuao fight, is well over the horizon now. But the division isn’t lacking for talent or star power, and these are exciting times. Spence and Porter go into battle this weekend with their own futures on the line, and a long legacy of welterweight excellence behind them.

You can order the Spence Jr. vs. Porter world championship unification pay-per-view by clicking here.