In a battle of contrasting youths, an unknown beats a growing name, and a new boxing promotion tries to shake things up all in one night in this installment of "Boxing Bits"…
Kell Brook MD Shawn Porter
Prior to Saturday night, IBF Welterweight Champion Shawn Porter was one of the hottest up-and-coming commodities in boxing. His power, speed, and take-no-prisoners tenacity made him one of the more enjoyable combatants to watch, and his recent demolition of Paulie Malignaggi was sight, if not a very concerning one, to behold. His Aug. 16th bout against little-known English contender Kell Brook was seemingly another rung to climb over on his way to the top of the ladder.
Alas, as many a young, confident fighter has experienced, some rungs are a little looser than others and may not be as steady as they appear at first glance. Even before the bout, Porter questioned why the Brit was in front of him and thought there was nothing special about him. However, it was clear from the first bell that Porter had miscalculated. Brook was calm and composed, picked his openings, and sniped Porter with sneaky short hooks from the inside and good jab work from the outside. Porter was very aggressive, but was too ineffective with his bumrushing of Brook and essentially smothered himself & his punches in the process by getting too close too quick and mauling about before he could truly make his shots count.
The taller man, Brook had the right stance and made good use of his dimensions to keep Porter from having his way. He also made clean and fair use of clinching and his own brand of smothering when close to further compound Porter's conundrum and impede him (topped off by those short hooks upon getting space). Porter did not take Brook lightly by way of his own performance, but he did by way of his tactics.
The reason he saw little in Brooks was likely because he is a straightforward, unflashy guy. However, given how solid, sound, and completely composed and focused he was Saturday, that was possibly the cause for his assumption. Though successful thus far in his career, Porter exposed himself by looking one-dimensional, too single-minded, and not adjusting his style much during the bout (though some will say he was exposed vs. Julio Diaz a few years ago). Barring a great turnaround in the now-former champion's game, I do not see much changing in a rematch.
On the opposite end, I am on the fence on how far Brook can go with the belt. He looked very good, took the powerful Porter's punches well, especially all of those flurries to the body, and his poise, perhaps more than anything else, is what got him the victory. That said, I am unsure if he has enough dimensions to be completely successful in such a superlative division like welterweight. Battling someone employing Porter's type of game does not provide one a full test or showcase of their skills. Brook proved he can fight, but whether he can defend against a Marcos Maidana or even a Timothy Bradley is uncertain. If one were going by the performances Saturday night, Keith Thurman could easily been seen blasting through both (and I like Brook a lot).
In one single evening, Kell Brook went from virtual unknown, to a title-bearing top name in a stout welterweight division. There are many, many interesting match-ups you can pair someone like him with, who appears nonthreatening enough to appeal to big names looking for a more "sure" fight, but also looks solid enough to able to shock and best them. Shawn Porter, conversely, has seen his shine diminish. He is less likely to get those bigger matches for the time being, but there are plenty of name fighters to make due on (network/promoter barriers pending). Before that happens, he must work heavily on advancing and improving his fight game. It is too primitive to allow him full success at the world championship level and he needs to expand his repertoire if he wants to reach the next stage as a pugilist.
:Sat.08.08.14: - Dirrell-Bika II was just another proof of the old adage, "the sequel is never better than the original". The always-feisty Bika looked shopworn at times, but he himself was just another frustrating example of a fighter that could have been so much more if he had the proper training and eyes guiding his talent years earlier…
:Sat.08.16.14: - Glad to see Gabriel Rosado pick up not only a win (and over Bryan Vera, at that), but a title belt, too--albeit, an alphabet soup belt I never heard of in "BKB". It stands for "Big Knockout Boxing", which basic features combatants fighting in a small, pit-like…circular, rope-less ring…where they fight for up to seven, two-minute rounds…at least, until someone gets knocked-out, I guess--I'm sorry, but that's all sorts of dumb, hokey, and lame. Not only that, it glorifies something that, while admittedly impressive and a natural circumstance in the sport, also carries a hefty weight of danger to it and feels like an act tone-deaf to the current era of concussion and mental trauma awareness (not to speak of boxing's own long struggle with it). The ring, as shown in this article, reminds me of every other bush league combat sport that tries to look cool and futuristic (because they are, like, the future of their sport), but ends up looking low-rent and corny, instead. And that is before viewing the actual footage and presentation of promotion, which does not dissuade expectations.
I guess this was what all of the fuss was about when I heard about something along the lines with its name, but things like this are what I like to refer to as "icing/frosting cake". People like cake and the icing/frosting on a cake is probably the most beloved part of all, but what if you had a cake that was most or all icing/frosting? It sounds great and it might taste good after the first few bites, but it likely won't be long until you get tired or bored with it.
Overall, it becomes "too much of a good thing" and loses what made it special in the first place. It is akin to sensory overload and having a boxing event that artificially juices the prospects of that ever-crowd-pleasing knockout does not sound very appealing, much less interesting. Great knockouts are great and memorable, but great fights are even more so. Not doing it any favors is how silly and unnecessary the product looks, however best the intentions. Strip the glitzy add-ons away and there is little differentiation between it and a normal boxing setting. That is what the individuals that make events and organizations like this ultimately miss. Ever wonder why arena football and slamball have yet to catch on big?
BKB has indefinite plans beyond this event, but I would not be surprised if you see nothing beyond this year, much less Saturday night.
But hey, it's better than Perfect 10 Model Boxing, right?