By Jake Donovan
It was barely a year ago when the jury was still out on Shawn Porter. The unbeaten welterweight hardly made an impression in struggling to a draw with faded former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz. It was only fitting that he loaded up the bandwagon beginning with a more convincing performance in their rematch last September.
From there it’s been smooth sailing for Porter, who has since claimed a title and emerged as a top welterweight, quite a statement considering the loaded division.
Tonight, his skills are put to the test and his star on the rise as he defends against England’s Kell Brook. The bout headlines a Showtime-televised tripleheader, airing live from StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Porter (24-0-1, 15KOs) turned heads with a competitive but clear points win over Devon Alexander last December to claim an alphabet title. An even greater statement was made in his most recent performance, dominating former two-division champ Paul Malignaggi en route to a 4th round stoppage this past April.
The win over Alexander was a career-changing moment for Porter, though one originally intended for tonight’s challenger. Brook (32-0, 22KOs) was due to face then-champ Alexander last year, but saw the bout postponed three times and ultimately canceled altogether due to injuries suffered by both.
Brook has since nibbled around the edges in waiting out his first title opportunity. He gets his chance tonight, in a bout that also marks his stateside debut.
Will Porter continue his impressive run and push towards the top of the queue in boxing’s most lucrative division? Or will Brook rise to the occasion in his biggest fight to date?
Read on to find out how the staff at BoxingScene.com believes tonight's welterweight action will play out.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: SHAWN PORTER vs. KELL BROOK
Matt Bevan (Porter UD or late TKO): “John MacDonald (Porter mid-rounds TKO): It's a fight where I wouldn't be surprised by any outcome. Porter has his limitations but there are still too many unanswered questions surrounding Brook. Porter will put him under pressure he's never faced before and I'm not sure Brook can fight at that pace for the duration.”
Shaun Brown (Porter TKO10): “Even though I believe that Brook will be a tougher challenge for Porter than Malignaggi and Alexander were, I worry about the opposition he has faced up until now. I think that's what will separate them on the night. Brook's best win is against Vyacheslav Senchenko which doesn't fill me with confidence. I think it will be an entertaining and competitive fight but late on the champion will come through and his style will wear down the challenger.”
Ryan Burton (Porter TKO8): “I think Porter's much better level of competition will be evident in this fight. Porter will hurt Brook early and stop him in the middle rounds.”
Jake Donovan (Porter UD): “This fight will begin competitive, but Shawn Porter will eventually pull away. The question will become whether Kell Brook goes all out to win — in which case, I like Porter’s chances of a mid- to late-rounds stoppage — or whether he fights to survive. I’m going with the latter and Porter taking a clear decision.”
Ernest Gabion (Porter TKO8): “Porter is a bulldozer and is now starting to utilize the traits that make him so effective. His aggression and stamina now play major factors in how he handles his foes whereas he tried to stay too much on the outside and box. He should be able to suffocate Brook and may be behind on the cards when it is stopped.”
James Harte (Porter UD): “This really is a 50/50 fight with so many aspects and intangibles that you can weigh up time and time again and still not come up with a conclusive prediction. I'm going with my initial feeling for this, and that is that after 12 close and at times hard rounds, Porter will defend his title. I think Brook struggles to make welterweight and if Porter makes him fight at a pace he is not happy with, it will begin to show. Yet at the same time, the way Porter jumps in blindly at times it's easy to see him walking onto a Brook rocket and getting taken out spectacularly.”
Keith Idec (Porter TKO8): “The diverse, improved Shawn Porter eventually will prove to be too strong for Kell Brook, a solid boxer who has been matched smartly on his way to a 32-0 record.”
Cliff Rold (Porter Dec.): “I like Brook's chances but can't shake the feeling that, on the road, he'll be hard pressed to get the decision no matter what happens in the ring. That aside, Porter seems to have hit his stride as a pressing brawler/boxer, and also can't shake the image of Brook struggling with Carson Jones.”
Reynaldo Sanchez (Brook late TKO): “Brook has knocked out 7 of his last 10 opponents while Porter has managed just four KO in ten fights. The power is with Brook and the speed and skill with Porter. Brook could use his height, but his short arms will force him to look the in fight. If Brook is able to withstand the blows of Porter and throw body shots and hurt Porter, he could knock out Shawn.”
Luis Sandoval (Porter UD): “You have to love a battle of undefeated fighters but I believe it will be Porter who will keep his record unblemished. Porter has shown his aggressive style and fast hands are trouble and I believe they will overwhelm the visiting Brook. In a fun fight, I expect Shawn to win a clear decision.”
Alexey Sukachev (Brook UD): “Porter looked great against capable technicians Devon Alexander and Paul Malignaggi, and perception can be that he is better equipped to fight stylists rather than rugged sluggers like Julio Diaz and Alfonso Gomez. However, Brook is a bit different. He is in great shape (unlike Alexander) and he is not past his prime (like Malignaggi). He will start slowly but will outsmart Porter in a very close fight to get a close call on points.”
Anson Wainwright (Porter Dec.): “A very interesting match-up of two unbeaten fighters in what on paper looks to be a 50-50 match up. I believe the fight taking place in America and in the California heat outdoors at the StubHub Center aids Porter, who will use his greater strength and infighting skills to win a competitive but deserved decision.”
Danny Winterbottom (Porter UD): For Brook, this fight is the culmination of a 10 year, 32-fight journey towards his childhood dream but has his ring education so far prepared him for a champion who seems to be at the peak of his powers as a boxer-brawler? Brook’s level of opposition simply doesn’t stack up against Porter’s recent big wins but the Ingle fighter possesses the firepower in either fist that Devon Alexander and certainly Paulie Malignaggi didn’t meaning the Sheffield man isn’t without a shot at unseating the champion and may flourish under pressure. However Brook’s life and death first fight with Carson Jones makes me believe that unless he can land a fight ending shot within the first half of the contest, Porter will rally from behind and begin to take over, his superior infighting taking its toll on Brook.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox