Saturday Aug 16th Porter who seemed to be on a locomotive steamrolling his way to the top of the welterweight division ran into an obstruction in his path name Kell Brook. With all signs pointing to a potential match up against Keith Thurman or Amir Khan most thought the Porter express would keep moving forward, building more and more momentum as it traveled to the top of the mountain we know as the welterweight division. Not too many people gave Kell Brook a chance. Before facing porter for the IBf welterweight title Brook looked to be nothing more than another game fighter from the UK who may be too tough for his own good. While his record, 32-0 at the time of the fight painted a pretty picture, this picture lacked substance. With only one fight in the US prior to facing Porter would Brook be able to handle the pressure of fighting in the US. Would Brook be able to handle the relentless pressure that Porter was sure to put him under in the ring or we he succumb to the pressures that be, get steamrolled in a losing effort to keep his undefeated record intact and win a world title.
Kell Brook not known to many as a topnotch fighter let alone a major player in the welterweight division was indeed able to take full advantage of the opportunity he was giving. Weathering the intense pressure that Shawn Porter subjected him to for 12 rounds; Kell Brook was able to show that his record was not merely a pretty picture with no substance but more so a collage depicting the many styles he has faced in the past and a prelude to things to come.
This was Shawn Porter’s 2nd title defense. TeamPorter was riding a wave of momentum stemming from his 2 most recent victories. 1st Porter captured the IBF welterweight title with a victory over Devon Alexander via a 12 round unanimous decision. Porter then put on a show case performance in his 1st title defense against the 2 time multi-division champion Paulie Malignaggi. Knocking Paulie out in the 4th round; Porter proved to be too strong, too hungry and too intense for Paulie to handle. It seemed that Porter has adopted a style very similar to the Style Timothy Bradley utilized in his fight again Devon Alexander back in 2011. Back then Timothy Bradley was a very rough and tough fighter who relied moreon his physically attributes and will to win than his boxing ability. In 2011 Bradley was not the polished fighter he is today. Often leading with his head, and focusing on disrupting the comfort level of his opponent Bradley would be extremely physical in the ring. His opponents were forced to utilize defense maneuvers more so than offensive attacks given Bradley an advantage in offensive output. Out working his opponents was Bradley's strategy of choice. With a by any means necessary mentality Bradley would often appear very raw in the ring.
Shawn Porter has very similar physical attributes as Timothy Bradley. With Bradley having success against Devon Alexander It would make sense that Porter would employ a similar approach against Alexander; and he did. Porter earned a unanimous decision victory over Alexander. Essentially nullifying his offense by taking him out of his comfort zone. Porter was able to land the more effective punches all the while controlling the pace of the fight. This victory marked the beginning of the Porter express. His next fight would be against Paulie Malignaggi
Paulie Malignaggi, a 2 time world champion in 2 different weight classes is not much of a puncher. Known for his jab, toughness and gamesmanship, what Paulie lacks in punching power he makes up in boxing ability. Having full knowledge that Paulie is not a big puncher Porter looked to pull out all the stops and pressed forward during every minute of the fight. Roughing Paulie up. Pinning Paulie to the ropes and throwing nothing but power punches without any regard for Paulie’s counter punching opportunities Shawn Porter, was able to impose his will on Paulie. Paulie had no answer for Porter’s new found physical style and consequently suffered a KO loss to Porter in the 4th round. Porter looked to be an unstoppable force after his win against Malignaggi. Although fundamentals were not at the fore front of his approach to his 2 most significant victories Porter’s new found physical fighting style catapulted him from a point of obscurity with casual boxing fans to a fighter in the running to land a fight against Floyd Mayweather. Porter had seemed to find a style that suited his physical abilities in the rings and appeal to the masses outside of the ring.
Going into the fight against Kell Brook Porter was very confident. This was his 2nd title defense and Porter seemed to be at home with being a physical; I will impose my will on you type fighter. Porter seemed not to focus on what Kell Brook might be able to do but more so focused on a game plan that was based on pressure, pressure and more pressure mixed with intensity and a high work rate. Taking a more systematic approach to breaking Kell Brook down; utilizing fundamentals i.e jabbing his way in, varying the speed on his attack, changing range and angles to keep Brook out of position seemed to be on the back burner. From the opening bell Porter made it known that is was going to be a rough and tough fight as he established himself as the aggressor. Often leading with a right hand while lunging in Porter looked to take away Kell Brook’s jab. Once on the inside Porter would tuck his chin, lead with his head and dig to the body. Whenever Brook would try to slow Porter down by tying him up Porter would shift his attention to Brook’s head. Becoming more physical by pushing off with his forearms or throwing looping punches at any part of Kell Brook’s body that was legal to hit; Porter did his best to make sure Kell Brook was never at any time comfortable with what was going on in the Ring. For the first 3 rounds Porter’s game plan was effective. Kell Brook was not able to utilize his jab or mount a consistent offensive of any kind. It was not the type of polished fight that Kell Brook would have liked. But amidst all of the rough and physical tactics Porter chose to employ Brook remained poised.
By the 4th round Kell Brook was able to make a few small adjustments in the ring. Brook began to disrupt Porters lunging attack by throwing a left hook as he Porter would lunge in. These left hooks as the fight progressed became more accurate disrupting Porters Rhythm by forcing him to switch from offense to defense. In clinches Porter would begin to show signs in fatigue. Earlier in the fight tying up Porter was a major task for Brook, he would seldom come out of a clinch without taking a punch or 2 to the body or head. As the fight entered the 5th round Brook was able to tie up Porter whenever he made his way inside. By the second half of the fight Brook was able to add a lead right hand into the mix. Throwing a lead right hand when Porter was on the outside Brook would catch Porter in transition as he would attempt to start his offense after blocking Brooks range finding jabs.
As the fight went deeper and deeper into the later rounds it became more and more obvious that Kell Brook was the fighter in control. Porter seemed to be stuck in the same geartrying to use the same offensive tactics from earlier rounds with little success. Brook was able to remain polished with his technique and exploit weaknesses in Shawn Porter’s game plan. In the end Kell Brook earned a majority decision victory and the IBF welterweight title. With 33 wins, 0 losses, 22 wins by Knockout and the IBF welterweight title around his waist, Special K might actually be a perfect moniker for the pugilist from Sheffield.