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Can Shawn Porter Survive Atop Boxing’s Premiere Division?

By Sean Crose

IBF welterweight champ Shawn Porter is compact, fast, and aggressive. He fires a lot of sharp, crisp shots at opponents, moves deftly about in an upright position and generally holds both gloves high in a traditional defensive stance. His entire ring demeanor can best be described as very solid, very tight and very determined.

Porter’s big victory against Devon Alexander last December made him a peer of Marcos Maidana, Floyd Mayweather, and Timothy Bradley. Yet the man known as Showtime is by far the least visible of all the welterweight title holders. What’s more, he’s about to face the lightning fast and colorful Paulie Malignaggi in his first title defense next month.

The question now is: can Porter hang with the most colorful crowd in boxing? The answer, of course, is yes – provided he keeps on winning. That might be easier said than done, however. For the welterweight division is a deadly place to fight in right now.

Mayweather. Pacquiao. Maidana. Bradley. Thurman. Those are just a few of the names in and around the welterweight universe at the moment. Granted, some are with Golden Boy while others are with Top Rank. The cold war may not last forever, though and, at 26, Porter is pretty much a young man.

Let’s start with Malignaggi, then. There are undoubtedly those who will feel this will be an easy fight for Porter. He’s the bigger man, after all, as well as the younger man. It’s unwise to underestimate Malignaggi, though. As he himself has pointed out, he’s going to bring a lot of experience into the ring with him next month.

Truth be told, I find the Porter-Malignaggi fight to be a toss up. I might give the edge slightly to Porter, but only slightly. Provided Porter does, in fact, defeat Malignaggi, however, it looks like he might then find himself up against rising British star Kell Brook. I’d go strongly with Porter on that one, though, as Brook really is relatively untested.

Then, however, things might get dicey. For that’s when names like Thurman, Broner, Maidana and Khan would be thrown into the mix. Could Porter defeat any or all of those men? That would be the big question. Most might be inclined to bet on Porter’s opposition in those possible matchups, but I’m not so sure.

For Porter has proven himself to be a consummate professional. Watch him in action. He’s one of the more disciplined fighters out there. While it’s true he leaves himself open on occasion, he’s a man who far more often than not sticks to what’s working. As long as he doesn’t get carried away with emotion – and he hasn’t yet – Porter is exceedingly dangerous in the ring.

Why, then, isn’t Porter getting the attention and respect he deserves at the moment? There’s actually two reasons for this. The first is that he’s similar to Timothy Bradley in that he’s good at a lot of things but not particularly great at any one thing. He can box and he can hit, but he’s not exceedingly fluid or powerful. In short, Porter doesn’t offer fans an enormous variety of “oh wow” moments.

Also worth noting is the fact that the guy isn’t much of a mouth. Nor does he have an overly colorful story or background. He’s not hedonistic, as Mayweather and Broner at least appear to be. He’s not flashy like Malignaggi, he doesn’t have a Rocky-type story like Maidana and he certainly isn’t a senator from the Philippians. All of those things work against the guy from a marketing perspective.

How, then, can a fighter who doesn’t get in trouble, who hasn’t had Olympic glory and who’s pretty much been a gentleman in front of the media rise above the fray? By continuing to win, of course. It’s not only the best way for Porter to stay atop the mountain – it’s the only way.

Can he continue to win, though? Time will tell the tale.

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