Former two-time Welterweight champion Shawn Porter distinguished himself in boxing in 2019 by virtue of his personal accountability
Perhaps with better planning at the outset of a new year, even as a one-man operation, I could compile a list of end of the year awards. Last year, for fun, I made a YouTube video to announce Super Welterweight Julian Williams as the recipient of Bite Down Boxing’s Career Reset Performance of the Year.
I may have been on to something.
Williams’ wildly entertaining 12-round unanimous decision victory over the emergent Nathaniel Gallimore buoyed the Philadelphia native’s resurgence. The high stakes bout versus the power-punching Chicagoan was an IBF eliminator. I’ll skip a few other details, but Williams eventually redeemed boxing’s version of a winning Powerball ticket – his IBF mandatory status – in May when he realized the chance to face WBA and WBC champion Jarrett Hurd. Elements of Williams’ performance versus Gallimore led me to believe the challenger had a realistic chance of defeating Hurd – in the champ’s homecoming bout. I thought this Hurd-Williams match-up wasn’t exactly Rutgers at Ohio State for a Buckeyes’ homecoming game. And then I still picked Hurd, with a pro-Williams caveat included in my prediction, to get it done.
Williams dominated Hurd, dropping the champion in the second round before going on to become unified champion via unanimous decision.
This year’s lone BDB honor is the Accountability in Action Award. It’s recipient: former two-time world champion Shawn Porter.
I am recognizing Porter, as well as his father/trainer Kenny as Team Porter, for their display of accountability for a few reasons. Let’s look at a short timeline of events:
- September 2018 – Porter won the vacant WBC Welterweight title by defeating Danny Garcia. In the post-fight interview he told Showtime’s Jim Gray a unification bout with IBF champion Errol Spence Jr was easy to make.
- March 2019 – Porter retained his title in a tougher than expected split-decision victory over mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas. Porter actually cut some of his hair off to come in at the 147-pound weight limit.
- July 2019 – Announcement of a Welterweight unification bout featuring IBF champion Errol Spence Jr versus WBC champion Shawn Porter to be held at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA on September 28 to be aired on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View.
- September 2019 – Porter’s gloves touched the canvas in the 11th round after being caught by a Spence left hook. He lost his WBC title to Spence in a hard-fought split-decision with scores of 111-116, 115-112, and 111-116. In terms of betting, Forbes contributor Peter Kahn reported that MyBookie, as of noon fight night, offered odds of -860 for Spence and +610 for Porter.
A Quick Look Back From a Different Angle
Porter narrowly defeated the betting favorite in Garcia. I picked Porter to win the vacant title. Ugas was a mandatory challenger, and with all of boxing’s politics, I didn’t get the sense that an earnest effort to make a unification bout between Porter and Spence ever occurred before Porter-Ugas. The outcome of Porter’s second shot at a title defense was a little too murky for my liking.
In the wake of Porter-Ugas I didn’t have much faith in a unification fight with Spence. However, once it was announced I took exception with the fight being a Pay-Per-View bout. In my opinion this was an excellent Showtime Championship Boxing main event in 2017. With FOX Sports involved, it’s a new day.
How Porter’s Accountability Came in to Play
Based on how Porter looked in spells against Ugas, Porter uncharacteristically having issues on the scale, and Spence’s offensive prowess I initially had zero interest in supporting Spence-Porter with my money. But then I started hearing Porter in a series of appearances or interviews and some of his statements piqued my interest in the fight.
- He owned his failure to be on-weight versus Ugas. He vowed that fans wouldn’t see a second incident regarding weight.
- Porter and his father Kenny appeared in a DAZN video clip with the app’s boxing personalities Ak and Barack. The Porters spoke, respectfully, on their history and familiarity with Spence which dated back to the amateurs and the pro ranks.
- Porter appeared on Sirius XM on the Fight Nation channel’s At The Fights with co-hosts Randy Gordon and Jerry Cooney. The interview provided an extremely detailed update on the improved approach to his strength and conditioning in preparation for Spence. The upgrades were due to downward trends in key areas according to a team-oriented review of Porter’s performance in his preceding fights.
- Porter visited Sirius XM’s Sway in The Morning hip-hop based show hosted by Sway Calloway. While Calloway sounded like he was leaning towards Spence, the husband of co-host Heather B called in to the show to vehemently predict a Porter win behind the Akron native’s pressure. Again, Porter spoke on his preparation and expressed his self-confidence – as well as gave away hints of his game plan.
- Reports surfaced about the fighters Porter sparred in preparation for Spence – Super Middleweights David Benavidez and Denis Douglin, fellow Ohioan Christopher Pearson and plans for rounds with WBO Middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade.
Now folks can infer what they want when fighters engage in the build up to their upcoming fights. Nowadays promoters and networks invest resources into well-crafted shoulder programming that drives home the merits of big-time fights. With Porter’s own efforts, as he went about pounding the pavement, I tapped into his eagerness to avoid the outcome he had versus the bigger Kell Brook in his first title defense, and to beat Spence in order to solidify him standing among the greats of one of boxing’s premier divisions. Him and his father relied on personal accountability to implement change in their practices. Furthermore, as a result of accountability Porter went out and put on the performance of his career against an undefeated Pound-for-Pound fighter.
If you know Porter, you are aware that I’ve left out any mention of the commentary around his polarizing fighting style. He simply hasn’t always been the most popular or highly favored fighter throughout his career. My personal Porter highlight was he finally did what I was waiting for other promising Welterweights to do versus former two-division champion Paulie Malignaggi in their April 2014 title bout. There’s also his victory over Adrien Broner and the way he fiercely competed against Keith Thurman in a losing effort.
At this moment in boxing fans seemingly put aside their own reasoning regarding defense of their favorite fighters, in favor of hastily devising their criticism towards the detractors of their guy or girl. So, kudos to Porter, Kenny and strength and conditioning coach Larry Wade. Great to see boxing, especially at the elite levels, isn’t completely bereft of accountability. And in this instance the accountability equated to great accounting.
I purchased Spence-Porter on fight night without any apprehension. The bout was a Fight of The Year candidate in part due to Porter’s ability to challenge Spence all 36 minutes. Based on some other key boxing metrics, despite now having a third loss, Porter also set himself up for lucrative opportunities in 2020. With the appearance of a healthy Spence recently during Harrison-Charlo 2 broadcast, maybe boxing’s scheduling creates real impetus for Porter to get a second crack at the unified champion. Unfortunately, accountability is critical for the success of a boxer – not so much for boxing.
Featured image by Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions