Boxing: Shawn Porter’s Next Step to Stardom

By Joseph Santoliquito Aug 16, 2014
Shawn Porter stands out. The IBF welterweight world champion, from Akron, Ohio, raises attention beyond his persistent body attack and the way he is able to cuff an opponent with a shot to the head or his high punch volume. No, a little more than skill has caught some roving eyes.

Go down the list of the top welterweights today and you will see why: Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Marcos Maidana and Timothy Bradley. They all have one thing in common; they are very good, and they are all over the age of 30.

Next on the list is Porter (24-0-1, 15 KOs), the only one under 30 among the who’s-who of the world’s top 147-pounders. Porter plans to prove he belongs with those names on Saturday, when he defends the IBF title against his toughest opponent to date -- undefeated Englishman Kell Brook (32-0, 22 knockouts) -- in a Showtime tripleheader at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. In the co-feature, WBC lightweight champion Omar Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 KOs) defends his title against Daniel Estrada (32-2-1, 24 KOs), while WBC super middleweight champion Sakio Bika (32-5-2, 21 KOs) puts his belt on the line against Anthony Dirrell (26-0-1, 22 KOs) in the other televised fight.

A victory over Brook will put Porter on higher terrain. He is coming off of a sterling victory over slick Paulie Malignaggi, and he won a unanimous decision over Devon Alexander in December 2013 to annex the IBF belt. While Porter may be teased by visions of Mayweather dancing in his head, he knows he first has to get by Brook, who has stopped the last four fighters he has faced.

“We now have another opponent in front of us, someone who’s very skilled, very basically and fundamentally sound. Just looking at film of the guy; he keeps his hands up, he throws a good, straight jab and a good one-two,” Porter said. “That’s the basics of boxing; that’s the fundamentals of boxing. The things that I work on everyday -- he’s very good at them. Not everybody else I’ve faced up to this point has been as good at them as he has.

“With that being said, we’re going to go out there [and] we’re going to do everything the way we always do it,” he added. “We’re going to box, use our speed, our power, our quickness, everything that we have, and keep in mind that he is a good fighter and we won’t be rushing in; we won’t be getting out of control.”

As for the added outside-the-ring heat that comes with being “The Next One,” Porter shrugs it off. He does not feel there is any additional pressure. He has insulated himself with trusting people, starting with his father, Kenny, who serves as his manager and trainer.

“Nobody sets the bar higher than him,” Porter said. “I’m working extremely hard every day, and the pressure is put on me all in the gym and on the track and in the swimming pool and in camp. Once I get to the fight, all the pressures -- I’ve already felt them all. There’s no pressure to deal with in the fight, just going out there and doing everything the Porter way and getting the job done, as we have.”

Brook, 28, has fought out of England just once, scoring a fifth-round stoppage over Luis Galarza in December 2012. He is a capable fighter and certainly skilled enough to pull off the mild upset over the rising Porter. Brook has a good jab and decent power. His goal will no doubt be to use the jab to keep the pressure-seeking Porter off him and then look to land something heavy. Porter, however, has never been knocked down.

“I think he knows that he’s up against someone who’s 32-0, who’s passionate about actually becoming world champion and he’s probably seen the cat-like reaction,” Brook said. “I’m a big welterweight and strong and determined. I think that he can maybe see it in my eyes that I’m not coming to lay down; I’m coming to lay it on the line. I’m a lion and I’m coming to take that title. I think he knows that it’s going to be like that.”

Should he fall, Porter stands to lose more than Brook. He is already looking ahead, possibly at December in what would be a great fight with the anvil-fisted Keith Thurman, followed by a possible date with Mayweather in 2015.

“I want to keep fighting and earn my position,” Porter said.


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