By Cliff Rold
This has been awhile in coming.
Kell Brook could have had a shot at a major belt before this weekend. He bided his time. A fight with Devon Alexander didn’t come to pass. Will he wish it had?
It’s certainly looking like a fun question.
And it’s at Stub Hub.
As fans in Southern California have learned, fights just tend to break out in that particular outdoor arena. Even without the locale, this looks the part. Brook and Porter have both been in crowd pleasers before.
Both in the flush of youth and prime, how can this miss?
Let’s go the report card.
Title: IBF Welterweight (2013-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 146.75 lbs.
Hails from: Akron, Ohio
Record: 24-0-1, 15 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-0, 1 KO
Rankings: #4 (Shawn Porter), #5 (BoxingScene), #6 (TBRB, ESPN, BoxRec)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 3 (Julio Diaz D10, UD10; Devon Alexander UD12; Paulie Malignaggi TKO4)
Title/ Previous Titles: None
Weight: 146.5 lbs.
Hails from: Sheffield, Yorkshire, UK
Record: 32-0, 22 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 1st Major Title Fight
Rankings: #5 (Ring), #7 (BoxRec), #9 (BoxingScene, TBRB)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Lovemore N’Dou UD12; Vyacheslav Senchenko TKO4)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Porter B+; Brook B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Porter B; Brook B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Porter B; Brook B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Porter B+; Brook B+
One of the fun parts of this fight is how much more we still have to learn about both men. They’ve been matched well so far to get to this point. Porter’s best foes are better than Brook’s so far but it’s not an exponential difference. They are evenly matched in terms of hand speed and power. The delivery of those factors is in contrast.
Brook fights tall, sometimes leaving his chin too exposed. He operates off a quick, long jab and moves his head well. He’s been buzzed, hurt by Carson Jones in their first fight and stunned by Senchenko in the fourth round of their fight.
To Brook’s credit, he responded by stopping Senchenko before the round was out. Against Jones, he went too war and scored the stop in the rematch. Brook has shown ring character. He’s also shown he’s in tough if he can’t keep the action at the pace he likes.
Porter is going to force a pace. Showing improvement since the draw with the faded former Lightweight titlist Diaz, Porter beat Alexander and Malignaggi with a vicious pressure game. He goes to the body and stays on top of foes. He’s not shown himself a massive puncher, but what he lacks there he makes up in another facet of his game.
Porter is bull strong. An amateur Middleweight, he’s a hard man to keep off lately at Welterweight. Brook will likely be a sterner physical test than those men. He’s not a longtime Jr. Welterweight and has fought as high as Middleweight. As good as Porter has looked in his last two starts, he’s not that far removed from the Diaz struggle. He’s not proven yet.
Brook could be a bit of a proving ground. If he can make Porter miss, and counter, his greater height (he looks even more than the listed two inches taller) is going to be a factor. Can he make Porter rush and get sloppy?
If Porter can take that jab away, Brook will be open on the inside. Can Brook stay off the ropes where that will be most dangerous?
Could this be a night where both men get what they want just enough to trade rounds and make a memorable fight?
Bet yes on that last question and don’t be surprised if there is debate at the end. A foreign-based fighter on US soil against a US fighter advised by Al Haymon? Brook is a serious threat to Porter but it’s hard to shake the feeling that, on the road, he'll be hard pressed to get the decision no matter what happens in the ring. That’s if it’s close. It may not be. Porter seems to have hit his stride as a pressing brawler/boxer, and it’s difficult to shake the image of Brook struggling with Carson Jones. The physicality of Porter should be enough to get the decision in a fan friendly affair.
Report Card Picks 2014: 33-15
More picks…Before Showtime comes to air, the action will be Cruiserweight in Germany…Former titlist Firat Arslan (34-7-2, 21 KO) had a nice last hurrah in his first fight with Marco Huck. Many thought he deserved the nod. That was in 2012 and he didn’t make it the distance in the return. At 43, Arslan is in deep against IBF titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez (28-1, 14 KO). Look for Hernandez to score an emphatic decision if not a stoppage in the second half of the fight…On the Porter-Brook undercard, the possible fight of the night pits WBC Lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 KO) against veteran Daniel Estrada (32-2-1, 24 KO). Figueroa’s style is already logging miles and he looked average against Jerry Belmontes, a fight he may have deserved to lose. Figueroa is defensively deficient and just feels like a loss waiting to happen. Estrada seems like the sort of hard-nose, contender to take advantage. The pick is Estrada by stoppage in the upset…In a rematch, Anthony Dirrell (26-0-1, 22 KO) had to have learned from his first crack against rugged WBC Super Middleweight titlist Sakio Bika (32-5-3, 21 KO). There won’t be a draw this time around. Dirrell by decision.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org