LOS ANGELES – Errol Spence Jr. admits Shawn Porter tested him like none of his previous 25 opponents had done. (photo by Ryan Hafey)

The rugged Porter pushed Spence to his limits during their 12-round, 147-pound title unification fight Saturday night at Staples Center. Porter’s physicality forced the unbeaten Spence to dig deep, withstand some punishing punches and find ways to fend off the gritty, persistent Porter.

As difficult a fight as it was, Spence spoke proudly during their post-fight press conference about disproving skeptics that questioned how the strong southpaw would respond during a dogfight against an opponent he couldn’t knock out.

“It was a lot of questions,” Spence said. “Shawn and their camp questioned, you know, that I never been tested before, I’ve never been hit with a great shot before, I never been uncomfortable before. And I think it showed a lot that, you know, I’m a real dog and I do have a lot of grit, and I do have a lot of ability to, you know, withstand a shot, take a shot, and give a couple back.”

Spence dropped Porter with a picture-perfect left hand late in the 11th round and won a split decision in their FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event. 

The 29-year-old Spence convinced two judges – California’s Rey Danesco (116-111) and New Jersey’s Steve Weisfeld (116-111) – that he won their close, physical fight. The other judge – New Jersey’s Larry Hazzard Jr. – scored their fight for Porter (115-112).

The relentless Porter pressured Spence into fighting the way that benefited the former WBC and IBF champion. They often fought from the inside, where Spence and Porter pummeled one another at times with brutal body shots.

When asked if he fought Porter’s fight, Spence disagreed during their post-fight press conference. Instead, Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) applauded Porter’s toughness and gave Porter (30-3-1, 17 KOs) credit for having better boxing skills than he would admit when they were promoting their fight.

“I don’t think I played into Shawn game plan,” Spence said, “because I said throughout this whole, you know, tour and throughout training camp that, you know, I was gonna try to get the knockout. And that’s what I tried to do, but, you know, Shawn’s tough, he’s a real competitor and have a ton of heart. So, even if I did hurt him, you know, he’ll come back with shots. You know, so I tried to do it, but it just didn’t happen.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.