By Jake Donovan
The August 16 tripleheader offered by Showtime comes with added pressure for all participants involved – living up to the standards of the hosting venue.
Shawn Porter makes the second defense of his welterweight title versus England’s Kell Brook in the evening’s main event. The bout tops a televised tripleheader airing live from the StubHub Center in Carson, California, a venue with a growing reputation for routinely producing action-packed fights.
Also on the televised portion of the show: Sakio Bika faces Anthony Dirrell in a rematch to their 12-round draw last December; and Omar Figueroa faces Daniel Estrada in a lightweight bout.
The allure of two top-rated unbeaten welterweight squaring off in a major fight should be enough to draw interest on its own. Both fighters have enhanced their respective reputations with a string of impressive performances.
Porter (24-0-1, 15KOs) proved his worth in a decisive points win over Devon Alexander to claim the title last December, and again with a one-sided four-round drubbing of Paul Malignaggi in April. Brook (32-0, 22KOs) has scored four straight knockouts, including stoppage wins over Hector Saldivia and Vyacheslav Senchencko in separate title eliminator bouts.
Still, neither have yet performed a venue that has continues to produce Fight of the Year entrants on nearly every show. For that reason, Golden Boy Promotions came up with a short list of homes once this card was announced, despite the fact that none of the fighters on the card hail from the Southern California area.
“The StubHub Center was a perfect fit for this type of card,” insists Oscar de la Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “The StubHub Center has the reputation of staging the best fights in recent years. We saw (Robert) Guerrero-(Yoshihiro) Kamegai recently, which was a tremendous fight (Guerrero won a decision in their 12-round thriller).
“When putting this event together, StubHub Center was the first choice. The fact that no local fighters are on the card doesn't matter. The fans from LA will come, no matter where the fighters come from.” There's an added pressure to perform. It reminds me of the Thunder Dome, with Mel Gibson. You HAVE to fight there.”
Of the six televised fighters, only Bika and Figueroa have played the venue. Bika scored a 10th round stoppage over Dyah Davis in June ’12 on one of the few cards there to not produce an instant classic. Figueroa has fought twice in the SoCal arena, most recently in a struggling 12-round split decision win over Jerry Belmontes this past April, on a show that saw Lucas Matthysse climb off the canvas to stop John Molina in the 11th round of what many have hailed as the leading Fight of the Year candidate.
At least one fighter on the show is game for the challenge of living up to the building’s exceedingly high standards.
“I'm finally performing there,” Porter exclaimed with enthusiasm. “I've been there half-dozen times or so. I love it and can't wait to entertain the fans in Carson, California.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox