For years, Shawn Porter has chased down the top welterweights in search of a true superfight.
Suddenly, he finds himself not just in demand but with a surplus of options from which to choose.
The former two-time welterweight titlist has seen his name in headlines more often than usual as of late. Oddly, it hasn’t been on the part of his team but rather Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, who has done his best to sell to the public future options for his star client Terence Crawford.
The tactic isn’t lost on the public, with many recognizing the 88-year old’s efforts to improve on lukewarm reception to Crawford’s ESPN-televised mandatory title defense versus Lithuania’s Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17KOs) on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Porter’s name has surfaced alongside his most recent conqueror, unbeaten welterweight titlist Errol Spence whom defeated the Ohio native in their thrilling unification bout this past September in Los Angeles.
Spence has become a less realistic option for any top welterweight given his recent single-car wreck this past October in Dallas, Texas. The 29-year old Desoto, Texas native was hospitalized for six days before being released, since which time he has remained completely out of the public eye, not even offering so much as a direct quote on his current health status.
That leaves Porter (30-3-1, 17KOs) as the best available welterweight Arum suddenly fancies to pair with his pound-for-pound star. As much isn’t embraced in return, given past conversations between the two athletes.
“It’s all about the friendship,” Porter explained to Fox Sports host Kate Abdo during a recent edition of Inside PBC Boxing, for which the former titlist serves as an expert analyst. “He and I agreed that if this is the line that we will cross, then we will cross that line and handle the friendship after the fact.
“This is a decision (Crawford) and I made… three or four years [ago], now. That decision is a little outdated. Some things have happened since then.”
One major development, of course, is Crawford entering the welterweight fray after enjoying championship stays at lightweight and junior welterweight. The undefeated switch hitter from Omaha, Nebraska claimed a welterweight strap following a one-sided stoppage win of previously unbeaten Jeff Horn last June, with Saturday’s bout versus Kavialauskas marking his third title defense.
Porter’s second title reign came to a close with his aforementioned loss to Spence. He made one successful defense—a narrow 12-round win over Yordenis Ugas earlier this year—following his vacant title victory over former two-division titlist Danny Garcia (35-2, 21KOs) last September.
While Porter remains among the best welterweights in the world, he now has two major options for his next assignment.
Along with the possibility of a Crawford fight, he is among the top candidates to secure a crack at legendary eight-division and current welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs). Porter is in the mix to land that assignment, as are a pair of Garcias—Danny and Mikey (39-1, 30KOs).
Pacquiao fought for more than a decade under Arum’s Top Rank banner before aligning himself with the PBC brand last November. Porter has fought for PBC since its inception nearly six years ago, though also believes that a direct conversation with Crawford—without outside influences—could get a deal done should they so choose to go that route.
Still, a big part of prizefighting is all about securing the biggest prize—the far bigger of the two who is still weighing options for his next fight.
“I do think that Manny is the more defining fight as me as well,” admits Porter, who has previously called for a 2020 showdown with active Philippines senator and legendary southpaw. “He’s also the number one guy on my list.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox