As a fighter makes his transition from prospect to contender, it also marks a time to step up the level of opposition. When you’re a top level prospect, it’s rather easy to look good against competition that you’re expected to beat. In sports, especially boxing, you’re only as good as the opponents you’ve bested.
Shawn Porter (19-0 14KO’s) has chosen to bulk up his resume this weekend when he battles Alfonso Gomez (23-5-2 12KO’s). The HP Pavilion in California will be the battleground for Porter to boost his name in the boxing community as a co-feature with Robert Guerrero and Selcuk Aydin.
This might be Shawn’s biggest fight yet and his first time headlining on Showtime, but trust me it’s not his first walk in the park. “I’m not downplaying being a co-main event on Showtime or anything like that, but I’ve been fighting since I was 8 years old and I’ve been the headliner through elementary, middle school, high school and all the way up to headlining big amateur shows. I’ve been all across the world fighting, so this is just me doing my job,” Porter said. When talking with him it’s evident that he oozes confidence and possesses poise under the pressure of the spotlight, which is a rare trait usually found in the best of the best.
Being ready for the main stage of the sport is one thing, but to be prepared for his most decorated foe to date is another. About his level of preparation Porter stated, “I think this will be my sharpest, and I’ll tell you why. I have a veteran fighter here, so I have things I corrected in camp. A lot of the stupid mental mistakes you would make against a fighter that’s wild and crazy, you won’t see those mistakes this fight. You’ll see crisp, you’ll see sharpness, you’ll see everything I have this fight.” There’s the humble side of Porter that in my opinion is needed in a fighter, to admit he’s not perfect, to admit there are mistakes to fix. Knowing that there was room for growth stems back to his time as Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partner. “It’s helped out a lot; we’ve taken to those techniques. Some of those things he does in the ring, we made them our own. Maybe by now you might not even notice some of those quick movements that I make, those turns, you may or may not see it as Manny Pacquiao’s, but it’s Shawn Porter’s now,” Porter added.
In this training camp he wasn’t getting Pacquiao ready to fight, he and his trainer Ken Porter, who is also his father, were preparing himself for war. Camp bounced around from state to state. First in his home state of Ohio, next was Clearwater Florida with fellow welterweight Keith Thurman, then 2 weeks in Phoenix, and finally in San Jose. The constant moving would seemingly be a distraction but Shawn emphatically said, “Nah never a problem for me. I love traveling and my team, they take care of the training so it’s not hard to get pushed. Training with Keith Thurman was a blessing because I didn’t have as great of sparring before I got with him, so that was a blessing too. So overall the traveling and training was great this camp.”
Shawn’s father Ken is also his manager, on top of being his trainer. To have his father working so closely with him in his career seems to be a positive. “I would say in some ways it has brought us closer, especially with me getting a little bit older, when I turned pro I was only 21 going on 22. I’m 24 now; I’ll be 25 in October. He actually includes me in the decision making and as well as the business conversations that go on that maybe 1, 2 or 3 years ago he wouldn’t have really bothered me with, but there’s things about the business details I need to know. So yes, it has brought us closer,” Shawn proclaimed.
The business side of boxing is tricky; it doesn’t always go as smooth as one would want. Sometimes there’s a waiting game that needs to be played, like in Shawn’s circumstance. Since the beginning of 2011 he’s only been in the ring twice. Feb. 18th of 2011 he scored a unanimous decision over Anges Adjaho and a 6th round TKO of Patrick Thompson on April 28th of this year. When asked about the lack of fights Porter stated, “All I want to say about it was it sucked. And that’s the part about boxing they don’t tell you about, the business part of it sucks and again that’s why my dad handled the majority of it without really stressing me or putting me in the middle of everything. But that business is out of the way and now it’s just fight time; time to make my mark and hopefully leave as good of a mark in the pros as I did in the amateurs.”
The lack of activity over the last year and a half is behind him and for Porter greener pastures are ahead. But first he has to conquer what’s in front of him now, Alfonso Gomez. The game plan for Porter is set, and though he didn’t get into any particulars, Shawn did mention, “I’m definitely going to look to exploit the speed and quickness; I think everybody knows that I have speed and quickness. But by him being 31 and being near the end of his career, I expect to be a full step ahead of him from round 1 and then from there just try to keep climbing the ladder and leave him behind.” The younger Porter also understands that father time is on his side and endurance will play a big role by stating, “We swim, we do sprints, we do everything that a fighter needs to do to be prepared to throw 100 punches from round 1 to round 10. So I think stamina is going to be the big difference in this fight overall.”
Being a student of the game, Porter also acknowledges that along with physical talents it’s going to take intelligence and being tactful to defeat the seasoned veteran Gomez. “I’ll tell you what, Number 1 I’m aware of who he’s been in the ring with and the things he’s done on a high level. I don’t expect him to have any butterflies. I expect him to be smooth, I expect him to be 100% and I expect to be in there with the A+ Alfonso Gomez. With that being said, I think that knowing all that I’ve got to be more technically sound then I’ve ever been,” Shawn remarked.
Gomez has been in the ring with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto and Jose Luis Castillo to name a few. Shawn hopes his date with Alfonso ends like Alvarez and Cotto’s did, by beating him. A notable name likely Gomez is an ingredient needed on his way to being a star and a contender. Knowing that a fight like this can get him serious notoriety Porter stated, “I hope this is it, my team hopes that this is it. We believe that this is it but that’s for the public (to decide). At the end of the day the public has to grade me, my performance and how well I did in comparison to Miguel Cotto, in comparison to Canelo Alvarez and then go from there. But I hope this does catapult me but I have to wait on the public to give me that head nod, so to speak.”
Not only will just winning raise his stock, but the fashion he does it in weighs just as much. A dominant decision victory would be nice, but should a knockout be the goal? “O yes, most definitely. I think a knockout is what every fighter looks for, but I think more than that you look to be your best, you know what I mean. Well my team knows and I know that my best will make every eyebrow raise, will make everybody smile and will make everybody shake their head, yea this kid has something. But I think if I don’t get a knockout the punch stats have to be off the charts. Punches landed to punches thrown have to be off the charts. Everything’s got to be off the charts for me to get that head nod from the public,”Porter mentioned.
The stage is set; the coming out party is planned and gets underway this Saturday night at the HP Pavilion. Lord knows Shawn Porter is ready for not just this fight, but the center stage in boxing. I tried to get Shawn to call out a top name pending a victory this weekend, but he remained focused and level headed by saying, “He (Gomez) is the stepping stone to a world championship. I can’t name any fighter, especially right now, it’s Wednesday, I fight Saturday. I’m still waiting to get on the scale, you know what I mean. So I’m not looking passed anything, we will worry about that afterwards.”
For the link to our radio interview with Porter, click here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thaboxingvoiceradioshow/2012/07/26/shawn-porter-and-kevin-cunningham