Two welterweights put their undefeated records on the line last Saturday and the result has shaken the boxing world.
When Shawn Porter knocked out Paulie Malignaggi in April it put him in the elite class according to many boxing experts. Meanwhile British welterweight Kell Brook struggled with accusations that he pulled out of a fight with then IBF titlist Devon Alexander because he was scared and criticism of his opponents. Before Saturday, Brook’s most notable victories came against Vyacheslav Senchenko and Carson Jones.
Both fighters started the bout the way most experts expected to go with Porter (24-1-1, 15KO) swarming and being aggressive while Brook (33-0, 22KO) looked to counter from the outside and clinch whenever Porter got close.
By round 3 there were signs Porter’s offense wasn’t doing as much damage as he had hoped. His punches either grazed Brook or landed without much force. He smothered his own attack when he leaped in on Brook because he would be off balance and this gave Brook opportunities to land counter shots or hold the champion.
The challenger began to dominate the fight by the end of round 8. Brook consistently landed his jab and straight right and an accidental butt opened a cut on Porter, who looked frustrated and distraught by the end of the round.
Porter had no answer to Brook’s combinations and inside smothering. He continued to leap in and his leaky defense showed throughout the bout due to his sloppy attack and lack of head movement. He had some success in rounds 11 and 12 but it was too little too late and Brook continued to pick him apart with right hands and left hooks.
The fight didn’t turn out to be the slugfest advertised, but Brook got the job done with scores of 117-111, 116-112, and 114-114 and pulled off the upset with a majority decision victory and won the IBF welterweight title.
Brook didn’t put on a dazzling performance but nevertheless he showed he could take on a strong welterweight and calmly use his jab and boxing ability to outclass an aggressive opponent. However, part of the reason Brooks didn’t look spectacular was because Porter boxed so poorly. He almost always came at Brook in a straight line and landed ineffective shots throughout the bout. He didn’t commit to his punches and literally leaped in to attack like some sort of frog. Fighters at the elite level don’t make those kinds of mistakes.
Porter will need to make adjustments to his game if he wants to continue to fight at the highest level. It is still questionable whether Brook is an elite fighter, but it’s clear he is a good one. Future opponents would be wise to not underestimate him like the majority of experts did for this bout.
In the most action-packed fight of Showtime’s broadcast, WBC lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa (24-0-1, 18KO) retained his belt with a 9th round TKO over Daniel Estrada (32-3-1, 24KO).
The fight was even through 8 rounds as Estrada had success on the outside while Figueroa did his best work on the inside and whenever he could entice Estrada to a brawl.
A clash of heads in round 8 opened a deep gash on Figueroa that made the doctor and Figueroa’s own corner consider stopping the fight for.
Not wanting the fight to end on a cut, Figueroa took matters into his fists by measuring Estrada with a jab and connecting with a solid right hand that floored him for the second time of his career. Estrada beat the count but a swarming attack from Figueroa forced Estrada on the ropes and the referee halted the bout seconds after.
Figueroa said he would like to move up in weight because it has been hard on his body to make the 135 pound lightweight limit in recent bouts. If this happens, talks of a potential bout with Jorge Linares would be killed for now.
Whether at 135 or 140 Figueroa has proven to be an entertaining fighter and the Linares would be interesting at either weight. Linares’ athleticism and speed could spell trouble for Figueroa but then again so could Figueroa’s power and relentlessness.
Maybe one day.