Kell Brook became the IBF welterweight champion. | Photo: Esther Lin/Showtime
Leading up to his Showtime Boxing headlining bout with England’s Kell Brook, there was a tremendous amount of hype surrounding reigning IBF welterweight champion Shawn Porter. Aside from having some excellent performances during his ascent through the ranks, it wasn’t until he destroyed former multiple-time champ Paulie Malignaggi that Porter became one of boxing’s hottest commodities.
Most of that changed tonight inside the Stub Hub Center in Carson, Calif., as Brook, a somewhat sizeable underdog coming in, negated the aggressive style of Porter and won a majority decision. Brook used a stiff left jab and timely counter punching throughout the contest, but what did Porter in the most was how often the Brit tied up the defending champ. Porter tried to bully his way inside with furious punches, but Brook thwarted the vast majority of the attacks and maintained control when he had to.
When Brook was able to create enough space to punch, he tagged the American with sizzling straight rights and powerful counter left hooks. Though he never truly hurt Porter, he certainly landed the larger number of telling blows when they mattered, which were mostly in the closest of rounds.
Brook had to fight through a nasty laceration from a clash of heads in the second when Porter was largely having his way, but he was fortunate enough to have the cut become a non-factor for the remainder of the bout. Porter, on the other hand, was cut badly above his right eye late in the sixth -- also from a clash of heads -- but it bled badly in each ensuing round, allowing Brook to land more clean left hands than he had been up to that point.
As the rounds wore away, it was evident that the challenger had seized control of the bout and never looked back. His timely punching and ring generalship allowed him to capture the fight in the eyes of judges Adalaide Byrd and Max Deluca, who had it 116-112 and 117-111, respectively. British judge Dave Parris had it even at 114 apiece, allowing Brook to not only remain unbeaten as a pro but also wrest the title away from Porter.
“It’s unbelievable,” Brook, now 33-0 with 22 KOs, said of winning the title. “He’s a bit scrappy but I did what I had to do with him. I’m normally a slick fighter, but I had to be scrappy at times. I’m the champ, baby.
“I was born to do this,” he continued. “I always find a way to deliver. You’re going to see me in some mega fights, and everybody is going to want to fight me. Keith Thurman, Floyd Mayweather are probably watching this fight. Amir Khan has to get in the queue now; I’m the top dog in England.”
Porter, who fell to 24-1-1 with 15 KOs, felt he was robbed.
“I think I’m still the champion,” he said through somewhat gritted teeth. “I don’t think he beat the champion. With that said, I gotta go back to the drawing board.”
Porter was reportedly going to lock horns with the exciting knockout artist Thurman early next year, but it’s back to square one for the Las Vegas-based Cleveland native.
“I thought I was effective with my attacks the whole night,” he added. “I give you no excuses tonight as he took my belt… We’ll continue to do it the Porter way, and we’ll come back stronger.”
Dirrell Remains Unbeaten with Win Over Bika
The first time they locked horns, Sakio Bika and Anthony Dirrell fought to an exciting, sometimes sloppy draw. In that battle, the Cameroon-born Bika was able to retain his WBC super middleweight title, but because it was such a close encounter and due to its entertainment value, a return date was booked.
However, in Saturday’s co-main event, the rematch was a sloppy, sometimes exciting tussle that had the near-capacity crowd restless and uneasy. Oftentimes they booed the action, which consisted mostly of clinching, wrestling, takedowns and low blows. With that said, Dirrell (27-0-1, 22 KOs) was a step faster than the reigning champion and landed far more telling blows throughout the fight to earn a unanimous decision victory.
When announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced the Flint, Mich., native as the new champion, Dirrell fell to his knees and cried into his hands. Dirrell had just become the second ever fighter from Flint to capture a world title (Chris Byrd was the first) and the second official cancer survivor to capture a world title (next to Daniel Jacobs). Dirrell also recovered from a horrific motorcycle accident as well.
The fight itself was a dirty, sloppy brawl where surprisingly only one point was taken -- from Bika (32-6-3, 1 KOs) in the eighth for repeated low blows. But Dirrell was also hit when he stumbled to the ground, and the two tumbled and tossed each other to the canvas several times. Still, Dirrell was able to fire off and connect with enough impactful blows to win most of the rounds, winning via tallies of 114-113, 116-111 and 117-110.
Figueroa Takes Out Estrada in Exciting War
Omar Figueroa, one of the most exciting younger fighters in the world today, was able to keep his unbeaten record intact and retain his WBC lightweight title with a thrilling ninth-round stoppage over Daniel Estrada. The two tore into each from the opening bell and traded vicious combos throughout every round until it ended.
Estrada kept coming right at Figueroa, keeping the Weslaco, Texas-based fighter in a slugfest, though it didn’t deter the champion whatsoever. Figueroa had no problem adjusting to the Mexico City fighter’s aggression and wound up pummeling his foe in the end.
After Estrada (32-3-1, 24 KOs) began to fade toward the latter stages of the seventh round and into the eighth, his corner reportedly thought about throwing in the towel. He was far behind on the scorecards, and the fight was almost stopped between rounds eight and nine -- from Figueroa’s corner due to a nasty laceration from a clash of heads -- but they allowed him to continue. His corner may regret the decision because early in the ninth, Figueroa (24-0-1, 18 KOs) floored Estrada with a perfect overhand right and then forced referee Raul Caiz to finally stop it exactly one minute into the stanza.
After the bout, Figueroa mentioned that he is going to 140 pounds in his next bout because making the lightweight limit has gotten to be too difficult.