To most boxing fans, the name Shawn Porter is a familiar one. Whether it be because of his status as an undefeated fighter (20-0-1, 14 knockouts), or because of the fact that he is one of Pacquiao’s lead sparring partners, Porter has no doubt been on many fan’s radars ever since his pro debut in 2008. Unfortunately, the past couple of years have been nothing short of frustrating for the welterweight.
Normally fighting four times a year, Porter has managed to fight only once in 2011 and twice in 2012. His most recent venture into the ring was on the undercard of Khan vs. Molina against veteran boxer, Julio Diaz (40-7-1, 29 knockouts). At this point in his fairly young career there was no doubt that Diaz was set to be Porter’s toughest opponent, and no one was more aware of this than Shawn’s father and trainer, Ken Porter.
“Well, we had a game plan going into camp and that game plan was that 80-85% of that fight was to be fight applying pressure on the inside”, said Ken. “My goal wasn’t the knockout, but to punish the man throughout the fight. It’s just not that easy to say,’This is what we’re working on, so this is what we’ll do,’ so that’ll be one thing he (Shawn) will have to come to grips with. He’ll have to come to grips with the fact that he’ll have to fight a certain way in certain places, in front of certain people, and if you mention that we’re fighting in someone’s backyard, I’ll have to prepare a game plan for that, and he’ll have to stick to that.”
Luckily for Shawn, all the work done in training camp seemed to pay off by the time he stepped into the ring with Diaz. Over 12-rounds, Porter managed to dominate nearly every facet of the fight, as he constantly took the fight to Diaz. To fans, Porter’s a dominant majority decision victory over Diaz seemed imminent, but the judge’s saw things differently. Rather than scoring the bout as the landslide victory many had expected, the judges managed to score the bout as a draw. Although it’s hard to find anyone who agrees with the official decision, Shawn could understand why certain rounds were scored in Diaz’ favor.
“[Being aggressive] was the one thing we worked on in the gym that didn’t really come out in the fight. Julio stepped forward more than I did in that fight, and there were a lot of times in that fight where my dad said I used my aggression, agility, and my skill more than I used my head, and what he meant by that was that there were points in the fight where instead of going forward, throwing shots, slipping shots, getting low, going to his body, and really showing the judges that I’m being aggressive, I was more-so aggressive in my hand speed, my quickness, my agility, and moving around him. I think that played a big role in determining who won which round.”
Oddly enough, it was Diaz who got the call to fly to the U.K. and challenge Amir Khan (27-3, 19 knockouts) on April 27th. The Porter’s don’t necessarily view Khan’s decision as a missed opportunity, but they do see it as a mismatch.
“After being in the ring with Julio, I think the one thing that he did display during the fight against me was that he’s got a lot of experience”, Shawn said. “He showed a lot of strength in that fight, and that alone will give him an edge in the fight against Amir. His experience and being what he’s been through in the ring ought to definitely give him some kind of edge in that fight.”
Ken Porter was much more blunt and much less optimistic of Diaz’ chances in that match-up than Shawn was, simply saying, “Diaz has no edge in that fight. The strength that Shawn speaks of is only because Shawn was at a deficit going into that fight and hurt himself.” (Shawn was battling a weight problem, and as a result had a bad weight-cut).
Even with the blemish on his otherwise perfect record, Shawn has managed to keep his spirits up as he views the Diaz fight as a learning experience on the road to boxing greatness.
“A lot that was done in the gym wasn’t done in the fight. Collectively as a team we knew that, and we know now the errors that made the fight as close as it was. At the end of the day you can’t complain, it’s boxing and it happens. You gotta move on in a positive way, and take steps forward. We live in Las Vegas now, and we’re just turning everything up, so when it’s time to take that step we’re 100% ready for it.”
With a new year comes a new opportunity, as Shawn and Ken’s focus has now shifted to fellow undefeated fighter Phil Lo Greco (25-0, 14 knockouts) whom Shawn faces on May 18th in a bout featured on Showtime. Although Lo Greco lacks any real drawing power in the States, the fight will serve as a gauge for which of the two fighters are looking to advance to the next phase of their careers.
“Personally, I’m excited. I’m just looking forward to everything getting signed and putting everything in ink. I guess this is a kind of coming out party for us in announcing this fight, but it’s Atlantic City again, it’s close to home, so considering it’s my 22nd fight, and potentially my 21st victory, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna get any better than that for me. That’s where I am with it. ”
With the fight being a month away, the Porters have prepared for Lo Greco accordingly in order to ensure that the same thing that happened against Diaz won’t occur again.
“He doesn’t have much on YouTube, but as soon as we got the call I started looking him up and saw a few small clips of him. He looks like the type of fighter who wants to punch hard, come forward, and try to be an aggressive fighter. I’ve also watched him train a bit, he’s got a few clips on YouTube of him training, so little things like that, but I haven’t seen much yet. My dad’s got a guy that will shoot a lot of stuff to us, stuff that you won’t be able to find on YouTube, so we’ll be all right in terms of getting some footage of him in time and being able to study him. Trust me, we’ll be ready for this fight.”
Should Shawn emerge victorious on May 18th, Ken Porter has made it clear that a rematch with Julio Diaz isn’t in the books for the near future.
“I don’t think it’s really needed, the rematch that Shawn has is with himself. His rematch is that he’s got to challenge himself to do everything that his trainer says and implement it, because as his trainer, he gets caught up in that, ‘My father is my trainer.’ The trainer says, this is what you’re gonna have to eat, this is how you’re gonna have to train, this is the kind of run you have to do, this is the type of conditioning you’re gonna have to do, this is the type of fight we’re gonna have, and most importantly this is type of fight plan we’re gonna be using. If he goes away from any of that, then you’re just gonna be creating problems for yourself, so he has to put in on himself to be able to follow through and do what he has to, especially in this camp right now. If Diaz asked for the fight, I’d take it in a heartbeat, but Khan gave him the call and he chose the lesser of the two evils. I really doubt Hunter saw something that made Shawn seem like a smart fight for Khan, so he gave Diaz a call to make a much more appealing fight for himself. ”
May 18th will prove to be a significant day for Shawn and the rest of Team Porter. With a victory over Lo Greco, Porter will be able to prove to his detractors that his performance against Diaz was a fluke. With a loss however, everything Shawn has worked so hard for could potentially come tumbling down. Win or lose, Porter has proven to be an exciting fighter and his match-up with Phil Lo Greco doesn’t look to be an exception.