Action man Porter eyes 147lbs summit
Occasionally, before pen has been put to paper to officially sign off on a big fight, there is a moment that transforms a rumoured marquee contest from a possibility into a probability.
“Lennox, I’m coming for you. I want your heart, I want to eat your children,” was the disturbingly confusing call-out from Mike Tyson on the American network Showtime after a 38 second blow-out of Lou Savarese in 2000. Two years later, both men squared off with any Lewis offspring still another two years away.
“I think you saw more action in these four rounds and more value for money than you’ve seen in Floyd’s whole career. I’ll just leave it that,” was Ricky Hatton’s message to Floyd Mayweather Jr on HBO after a trademark left hook to the body ended Jose Luis Castillo’s chances of victory when the pair met in June 2007. Mayweather and Hatton fought six months later.
Shawn Porter against Keith Thurman may not carry the same magnitude as a premier boxing event, but it can be strongly argued that a showdown between the two elite American welterweights could go a long way to deciding who will pick up the baton from the now retired Mayweather as the country’s and possibly the world’s best 147lbs fighter.
Amidst the media circus during fight week for Floyd’s ‘farewell’ against Andre Berto, the two men were photographed having a face-off for the boxing press in the hope that it may start a buzz or light a fire that would eventually see them meet in the ring. When Boxing Monthly spoke to Porter recently, he was adamant that ‘One Time’ is who he wants to face next. “If I had my way I’d fight Keith Thurman next,” the former IBF champion told BM.
Porter went on to explain how that manufactured piece of publicity came about.
“We [Porter’s team] were talking about possible fights and who we’d like to fight and all that kind of stuff. Keith and I started to do some pictures together. I said to myself, ‘Why are we just talking about it? Let’s face up and we’ll do this’. I said to Keith: ‘If it’s cool with you, I’d like to do a face-off’ and he said ‘Yeah, no problem’. So we did a face-off. But basically what I wanted to do was to face-off and show the public that here’s two hungry young fighters who will fight each other whenever we’re told we’re going to fight one another. It’s not our decision, but if we had our way we’d be fighting each other today. That’s definitely how I feel on my side.”
The 27-year-old believes, however, that his fellow countryman did not take the moment as seriously as he did.
“When I told him I wanted to do the face-off, I wanted to not only show the public that I wanted to fight but I also wanted to show him that I wanted to fight. I don’t think he made it as serious a moment as I wanted it to be. When we faced off he did a little look with his eyes in a joking way. I was 100% serious with the face-off that I want to fight him.”
Originally from Ohio but now based in Las Vegas, Porter is keen to build a fighting home for himself in the legendary venues on the famous gambling strip. As with any other professional boxer, he told BM he is happy to fight wherever, but cementing a name for himself under the bright Vegas lights is the goal for the man nicknamed ‘Showtime’.
“It’s close to us but when you talk about Las Vegas being the fight capital of the world, and you talk about half the fights in Las Vegas, no-one thinks of anything but the MGM Grand. That being said I feel like I can fill the MGM Grand. I’m an MGM fighter that’s where I want to fight,” Porter told BM.
Indeed, Porter - who began fighting in unheralded boxing locations such as Salisbury, Maryland to Tunica, Mississippi - has had a taste of what the MGM has to offer after fighting in its Ballroom against Julio Diaz and, most recently, in the more prestigious Garden Arena when he outhustled and outmuscled Adrien Broner back in June. A victory that re-established himself as a welterweight force.
It’s taken just over 14 months for Porter to drag his name back into the discussions for big network fights after having his IBF world title wrested away from him by Britain’s Kell Brook at the StubHub Center in California. The American admitted to BM that the Sheffield star had got under his skin and he chose to fight with his heart rather than his head that night. Since his first professional loss, two wins against Erick Bone and Broner have rendered the defeat to Brook as nothing more than a memory. He has moved on from a fighter that he has little interest in talking about.
“I don’t think about a fight with Kell Brook until someone points it out to me,” said Porter. “I’ve completely moved on. I’ve had two fights since that fight. In many ways that fight has become irrelevant now. Unless we’re talking about fighting him again, and seriously going to do it, then I don’t entertain thinking about him or that fight or anything like that.”
BM asked Porter if he would travel to the UK for a rematch. And with a deepening, more serious tone he answered: “I’d come to the UK to fight Kell Brook. It would be a lot different than the first time.”
With that portion of the conversation bolted shut, thoughts turned to the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr. A man who, on his own terms, retired with a record of 49-0 as well as millions of dollars, a promotional company and the crown of (T)he (B)est (E)verthat he bestowed upon himself.
As with any boxing retirement there remains that one burning question: ‘Will he return?’ Porter, who could well be on the list of Floyd’s potential comeback opponents, had his say on whether ‘Money’ has finally exited the sport for good.
“There are rumours that he could come back,” Porter told BM. “We’ve seen him retire and come back before. This could be the end for him which means the future is for young fighters like me. If he decides to come back, I hope he comes back fighting to fight me.”
Porter believes he has the tools to give Floyd his first ever career loss. A feat very few have come close to realising. “I just know I have what it takes physically, mentally and psychologically, emotionally … the whole nine (yards). It takes all that on one night to conquer a fighter like Floyd Mayweather. And I know that I have that inside and out.”
Porter doesn’t have a personal ‘TBE’, but his preference is for a middleweight who spent years doing it the hard way, eventually filling Vegas fight venues and helping to produce some of boxing’s most memorable moments.
“For me, a fighter I looked up to for a very long time is Marvin Hagler. He’s what I describe as special. I look up to him in a lot of ways in and outside the ring,” said Porter. “He had a different level of excitement and charisma and energy when he fought. Everyone couldn’t wait to see what happened. I think a lot of people see that with me now. They know that when I fight it’s going to be a great war, it’s going to be very action-packed with a lot of energy flying around the entire arena. That’s what people like about me.”
And as for Floyd’s description of himself as ‘TBE’?
“He says he doesn’t want to be called the greatest he wants to be called the best. It’s a little bit of word play. At the same time, what he’s been able to do for as long as he has been able to do it … I give it to him and give him the respect he’s earned and deserves to call himself the best ever. 49 fights and no losses in a professional career is very, very hard to do [and that’s] what he has done.”