By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Pressure.
It’s the word mentioned most when people assess Shawn Porter’s perceived path to victory over Andre Berto on Saturday night in Brooklyn. Pressure is Porter’s specialty, a practice that has served the former IBF welterweight champion well throughout his eight-year pro career.
Berto isn’t so sure, though, that Porter’s strength is actually as great an asset as it is made out to be.
“Shawn is a great fighter,” Berto told BoxingScene.com following a press conference Thursday at the Brooklyn Marriott. “Shawn, he brings a lot of pressure at times. But a lot of the times, I believe it’s not too much effective pressure. I believe it showed in the Thurman fight. I believe it showed in the Kell Brook fight. You don’t have to throw a million punches or try to press, press, press as much as he does.
“You saw a guy in Keith Thurman that just threw effective shots, that were effective, the same way that Kell Brook threw the more effective shots. Shawn was all over [Brook] all night, but [Brook] threw the more effective shots that landed. There’s just a lot of little things. Like I said, man, he brings a lot of pressure, but he leaves himself open.”
The 33-year-old Berto believes he can exploit the defensive flaws Porter’s persistent pressure causes when they meet in a “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event at Barclays Center. Even Porter noted Thursday that he has reassessed how and when to pressure opponents since he lost a close unanimous decision to Thurman in their 12-round welterweight title fight June 25 at Barclays Center.
“I’m not sure if that changes my approach totally,” Porter said of losing to Thurman. “I know that even since the fight, we’ve looked at it and we learned two things. We learned that, number one, I left a lot of the rounds close. A lot of those rounds were close because I was still in line to be hit. So we’ve been working on defense.
“And the other thing as well is the fact that I do push the pace and the tempo so much that there are times I hit a guy and I keep going. I’m learning that you don’t always have to go, go, go. After you hit a guy, create that space, create that distance, let the crowd, let the judges know that I got him and he can’t get me back. You know?”
The 29-year-old Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) has hinted throughout training camp for this 12-rounder that he might box more than usual in attempting to beat Berto (31-4, 24 KOs). Porter referenced Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s decisive victory over Berto in September 2015 as a fight he has studied, yet was coy Thursday regarding how much he’ll go away from the tactics he typically employs when he battles Berto in a WBC welterweight elimination match (Showtime; 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT).
“I just had another reporter tell me that pressuring him is the best way to beat him,” Porter said. “My response to that was, ‘It may be. And we all know I can pressure a fighter.’ But we’ll see what happens when we switch it up and move forward and we work on implementing the game plan we’ve set in place, which does revolve around using foot speed, hand speed, quickness, power.”
When asked if he was simply attempting to trick Berto into believing he will box more than usual, Porter smiled and said, “I could very well be using a Jedi mind trick.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.