Knuckle Up For The Heart Of It All

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2015 has already been a monumental year in the sweet science. We have seen some of greatest matchups in recent years with the best fighting the best in their primes, the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) bringing the sport back to its roots on network TV, the “fight of the century”, and the return of an American heavyweight champion.

With all that has happened in the sport through just about five and a half months of the year, it’s hard to imagine that we may get the best fight yet on June 20th. The PBC on NBC will air the “Battle of Ohio” in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand as Cincinnati’s Adrien “The Problem” Broner (30-1 22 KO) faces Akron’s “Showtime” Shawn Porter (25-1-1 16 KO).

Broner enters this fight on the strength of three straight unanimous decision victories since his lone loss to Marcos Maidana in 2013. Broner had jumped to welterweight from lightweight in the middle of 2013 after holding titles at super featherweight and lightweight. He found the difference in weight to be a bit more difficult as he won a close, slightly disputed bout against Paulie Malignaggi and then followed that up with a unanimous decision loss to Maidana which saw him get dropped for the first two times in his career.

After the Maidana fight, Broner dropped down to 140 where he has won his last three fights defeating Carlos Molina, Emmanuel Taylor and John Molina Jr. In his last fight against the relatively flat footed Molina Jr., Broner used his tremendous speed to thoroughly dominate the bout.

Porter has fought primarily at welterweight winning a world title in 2013 with a unanimous decision over Devon Alexander and defending it once with a fourth round stoppage of Malignaggi. In his second title defense, Porter suffered his only loss, a majority decision, last August at the hands of Kell Brook. Porter rushed Brook consistently throughout the fight and although he landed clean scoring punches from time to time, he missed more than he connected. Brook’s game plan was executed exceptionally well as he looked to use Porter’s aggressiveness against him by looking for and finding openings in Porter’s guard and landing quick solid shots which seemed to surprise Porter. Although Porter stayed aggressive until the final bell, you could see the frustration on his face get more evident as each round passed through to the final bell and decision.

In Porter’s last fight in March, he was supposed to face brawler Roberto Garcia but due to Garcia’s weight and hydration issues, Garcia was replaced by Erick Bone whom Porter stopped in five rounds. Before being stopped, Bone made it difficult for Porter each round and did land several solid power shots due to Porter’s wildness and porous defense.

The Porter-Broner fight will be contested at a catch weight of 144 with a 10 pound rehydration clause which some feel will hurt Porter, the naturally bigger fighter moving down, and be an advantage for the lighter Broner. Porter is known to have a disciplined approach to his training regimen and is always in top shape so this minimal drop and hydration stipulation is most likely a non-issue.

This is an amazing matchup as the two former welterweight title holders both have the skill set to make this a fight for the ages with a win catapulting them towards elite status.

Porter does his best work inside and throws his punches with bad intentions like a miniature Mike Tyson. Additionally, he is a pressure fighter who comes forward and attacks and we will probably see a lot of similarities in his style here with how Maidana pursued and made the fight physical with Broner. The difference here is that Porter is much quicker than Maidana with only a slight drop off in power which could spell trouble for Broner if he is not able to keep Porter at bay with his jab and movement. Porter will not only look to do damage up high, he is also adept at working the body which will benefit him against a movement fighter like Broner. Porter does get wild at times and can be found rather easily as he was in the Bone and Brook fight so he will need to tighten up his defense a bit against the quick counter punching of Broner.

Broner does his best work on the outside using his speed and reach to soften up his opponent with multiple combinations while looking for counter power shots that can put his adversary in trouble. Along with keeping his jab active, Broner will look to counter the charging Porter and may employ similar tactics as Brook did when facing Porter, strategically tying Porter up to negate his aggression. Broner had difficulty at 147 and was coming in to his own at 140 so it will be interesting to see him perform at this catch weight against the most multi faceted skilled fighter he’s faced.

June 20th is a big day in the sport as Andre Ward returns on the first PBC on BET card, rising star Errol Spence Jr. faces his toughest opponent to date in Roberto Garcia, and in Quebec, David Lemieux will battle Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam for the vacant IBF world middleweight title. Make no mistake though; Porter vs. Broner is the crème de la crème on this day and a potential fight of the year candidate.

Growing up in Ohio, Porter and Broner were separated by about 230 miles down I-71. They have followed each other since the amateurs; however, on June 20th one will separate from the other and capture state bragging rights while another epic chapter is written in the annals of 2015.

If boxing is dead, why do I feel so alive?

This article contributed to BTG

 

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