By Sean Crose
Juan Manuel Marquez was there. Keith Thurman was there. Interested fans were watching live via Showtime. It was time for IBF welterweight champion Shawn Porter to defend his title against number one ranked threat, undefeated Kell Brook from England.
Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos
The bout was being held at the Carson City’s StubHub center, a place recently known for showcasing good bouts. It was impossible to tell what kind of bout Porter-Brook would be, but it was most certainly and intriguing and worthy matchup. Two talented men, both in their primes, getting it on for a legitimate title. Who could ask for more on a Saturday night?
The crowd was sufficiently pumped when both men entered the ring. Intensity was in the air. The first round was an energetic affair. Both men got good shots in with Brook possibly doing just enough to win. At the start of round two the fight seemed to be settling into a steady flow. The faster Porter moved forward while the taller and perhaps stronger Brook fought to keep him at bay.
Porter, quite frankly, looked a bit sloppy. Brook was landing the better, cleaner, stronger shots. Still, the defending champ was coming on like a buzz saw. By the end of the second, neither man had become the dominant fighter.
Round three was more of the same, with Porter coming forward and mauling while Brook pot shotted and tied his man up. By the fourth, however, it was clear that Porter was having a hard time getting in and effectively damaging the challenger. Would the fight come down to each of the three judges’ personal tastes?
“He’s nullifying you by holding you,” Porter’s father/trainer, Kenny, told him in between rounds. He also mentioned the fact that Porter was coming straight at the straight punching Brook. The senior Porter wanted his son to start employing angles as the bout entered the center rounds.
Showtime’s Steve Farhood had Brook winning four rounds to two by the midway point of the bout. It was an accurate assessment, but Porter just kept coming. The champion was clearly getting frustrated, however, and Brook kept on landing the better punches.
As the fight entered the eight round the question seemed to be whether or not Porter’s intense body attack would pay off in the later rounds. “Those straight one-twos are like sniper bites,” said a Showtime commentator, “and I don’t think Shawn has an answer for them.” He didn’t. The Englishman was simply proving to be too strong and skilled.
The look on Porter’s face seemed to speak volumes after the eighth round. Bloody and swollen, the man just looked to be the worse for wear. Brook continued to land hard in the ninth, his defensive wall simply too much for Porter to break down.
In the tenth it started to look like Brook was hoping for a knockout. He was moving in on his battered prey, and doing body work of his own. Porter nailed his man hard at the end of the round, however. What’s more, the eleventh round ended up being anything but easy to judge.
The final round was a grueling outing. It, too, was a close round to call. Indeed, it was a close fight. This author believed Brook had done enough to win, but this author wasn’t a judge. And, again, it was a tough, hard-to-judge battle.
When the judges spoke, however, they gave the title to Brook by majority decision. It was a pointed upset, but not a stunning one for those who have followed Brook and knew what he would bring into the ring on Saturday.