Hey, this is more like it this coming Saturday, Showtime. You don’t have to put on a tripleheader like last Saturday’s that produces, mainly, scorn. You can put on one that is evenly-matched, like what was happening last year more often than in 2014.
The fight atop the card this Saturday is a nice meeting between still-teething welterweight contenders Shawn Porter and Kell Brook. Porter’s fangs are more solidified, having just been sharpened by his defeats of established contenders Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi in fearsome fashion. Brook is the baby of the two, having beaten a fringe-ier assortment like Vyacheslav Senchenko, Carson Jones and Rafal Jackiewicz.
Yet Brook not having yet proven himself, a knock on his chances against Porter, is also what offers some of the match-up’s intrigue. By demeanor, Porter is a metronome, one set at a very fast pace, given his impressive volume attack — he has become consistent, steady after a long period of see-sawing from looking like a solid prospect to one who didn’t have much of a future. A win over Brook could put him into the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes.
Brook, meanwhile, has been nothing but erratic, flashing the “Special K” in his Twitter handle only to follow it with moments that more closely resemble soggy cereal. He is faster than Porter, hits harder than Porter. But he also has been curiously unimpressive at times, struggling with Jones in their first meeting only to avenge that loss in resounding style in that rematch. He got rocked by Senchenko, then came back strong. These might just be growing pains. Or they might point to an uneven fighter who has taken until age 28 to meet someone as good as Porter (26) with good reason.
The other thing that offers up intrigue in the match-up is the style clash. Porter has exacted his heavy forward-pushing toll on opponents who didn’t have the firepower to send him backward. Alexander is no puncher, Malignaggi has even less of the stuff. Does Brook have enough? If anyone does — and it’s been a long while since we’ve seen Porter in any kind of trouble — it would be someone like Brook.
If he doesn’t, it will be a deeply miserable night for Brook. He has a jab to keep Porter off balance in his charges, but he doesn’t use it so much as to completely fend off a pressure fighter via that alone. It’s a jab that sets up his 1-2 and other offense, not a jab that dominates a fight. He also doesn’t employ the kind of body attack that could potentially slow down Porter’s pace and give himself breathing room to outbox Porter.
Both have their defensive vulnerabilities. Porter gets very, very wild at times with his two-fisted forays, making him vulnerable to get hit, although earlier incarnations showed he could fight in a more measured, controlled style if need be. Brook got hit a ton to the body by Alvaro Robles, an ominous sign. He also can leave his head dangling around in the air.
It’s the kind of fight where if you really believed in Brook’s physical talent, and how he’s been able to toughen up when needed, you might totally pick him. But I don’t think it’s the right call. Porter is a mean fighter right now on a hot streak, and as long as his chin holds up through the early part of the bout, he’s going to put a hurting on Brook. It’s a style problem and an experience problem. There are guys Brook might beat who are better than Porter in many ways, but Porter has too much of what it takes to beat Brook. Porter by late stoppage.