By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Shawn Porter and Andre Berto are focused on their own important welterweight fight Saturday night.
But both of the former 147-pound champions are looking forward to watching Errol Spence Jr. challenge Kell Brook for the IBF welterweight title next month. The highly regarded Spence will cross the Atlantic Ocean to box Brook on May 20 at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England, a soccer stadium in Brook’s hometown
“It’s gonna be a good one,” Berto said. “It’s gonna be a great test for Errol Spence. He’s going against a lot of odds. He’s going over to Kell’s backyard and Kell Brook is a big welterweight. He’s a good-sized welterweight with skill. It’s really gonna be like his real test.”
When pressed to pick a winner, Berto chose Spence (21-0, 18 KOs).
“I’d put my money on Spence,” Berto said. “But like I said, you can’t sleep on Brook. He has a lot to prove. He had a tremendous fight with GGG, and I think he’s gonna be coming off [with] a little of that confidence, just the fact that he was able to go up to that type of weight and really put on an alright show.”
Brook suffered his first professional defeat to Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) in his last bout, but Brook was competitive in their middleweight title fight before a fractured right orbital bone caused Brook’s trainer, Dominic Ingle, to stop it in the fifth round September 10 at O2 Arena in London. The 30-year-old Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) has returned to the welterweight division to face Spence, a 2012 Olympian from DeSoto, Texas.
Brook will make his fourth defense of the IBF 147-pound championship he won from Porter, who Brook beat by majority decision in August 2014 in Carson, California. Porter said he wants Spence to win, but declined to pick either fighter.
“I think that’s a good fight,” Porter said. “I think it’s an entertaining fight. I think Errol is gonna try to pressure him. I think Errol is gonna try to get after him, and I think Errol has what it takes to win that fight.
“Kell is very strong, very smart, has a smart corner. So it’s gonna be a hard fight for both fighters. But I’m hoping Errol can go over and bring that belt back to the States.”
Showtime will televise the Brook-Spence and Porter-Berto bouts.
Whoever wins the 12-rounder between Berto (31-4, 24 KOs), of Winter Haven, Florida, and Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs), of Akron, Ohio, will become the mandatory challenger for WBC welterweight champion Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs). The telecast Saturday night is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT with another 12-round bout that’ll match Houston’s Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) against Dallas’ Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs), the mandatory challenger for Charlo’s WBC super welterweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.