(Kell Brook celebrates the verdict; photo by Esther Lin, Showtime)
It was anybody’s guess how the judges would score Kell Brook vs. Shawn Porter after 12 rounds, based on how wildly divergent fans and writers were calling it on social media. But most people had it for Brook in a rough-and-tumble, even unattractive fight, and that’s how the judges decided it: 114-114, 117-111 and 116-112 for Brook.
I thought Porter would knock out Brook in a showdown of welterweight up-and-comers. The U.K.’s Brook, unexpectedly on U.S. soil, got away with a lot of holding. It made a world of difference: The longer and faster Brook was able to land sharper shots from range, and didn’t have to contend as much with Porter’s inside work because he smothered it. What’s more, Brook hurt Porter multiple times, and not vice versa.
Still, Porter threw so many punches that he won over some folk. It was aggression; it was volume; and in clinches, even, some of it was landing. Apparently, the British commentary team liked what Porter was doing. So did the British judge, who had it even. To his credit, Porter never stopped pushing forward, ignoring cuts and shots that shook him, and he won the 12th with sheer willpower.
I scored it 117-111 for Brook. Ideally, he wouldn’t have been able to hold without impunity, and perhaps the fight would’ve gone differently without it. But his speed and power and height — and his jab — were more effective than what Porter brought to the table, with that caveat.
This kind of spoils the Golden Boy plan, which seemed to be steering Porter toward a Floyd Mayweather bout. Could Brook get one of his own? Perhaps, but it’s less likely. Mayweather has spoken repeatedly about how much he loves England, and how he’d like to fight there, and Brook is more qualified at this point than an oft-mentioned Mayweather opponent, Amir Khan. For one night, it was enough to see the unproven Brook get the best win of his career on foreign soil, however much it wasn’t so much fun to watch. After a couple ugly ones Saturday, perhaps we can do away with the notion that the StubHub Center magically transforms fights into Fight of the Year candidates. Both this fight and the main supporting bout figured to be better than they ended up.
Alternately? Khan-Brook in the U.K. just got that much bigger.