CARSON, Calif. – The streak of Fight of the Year candidates on StubHub cards ended with Saturday’s Showtime tripleheader headlined by the Shawn Porter-Kell Brook welterweight title bout but the venue delivered one of the upsets of the year when the visiting challenger outpointed the heavily favored American titleholder.
Brook (33-0, 22 knockouts), a native of Sheffield, England, who was making only his second U.S. appearance, scored a majority decision over Porter, the defending IBF beltholder that most American boxing pundits had tabbed to win.
Porter (24-1-1, 15 KOs), had fewer pro bouts than Brook, but the 26-year-old Ohioan was viewed as the more battle-tested and the more formidable fighter thanks to his previous two bouts – his title-winning decision over Devon Alexander in December and his fourth-round stoppage of Paulie Malignaggi in April.
However, while the two American veterans carried more respect and name-recognition than Brook, the 28-year-old English contender brought more size, athleticism and punching power to the ring and he put it to good use down the stretch of a closely contested match. Porter utilized effective aggression over the first half of the bout, mauling the Brit on the inside every chance he got.
However, despite suffering a small cut to his left eyebrow in Round 2, Brook kept his composure, occasionally catching Porter with stiff jabs and right hands as the American lunged forward. By the middle rounds, Brook was in a stick-and-move rhythm, and perhaps aided by a bleeding cut that Porter suffered to his right eyelid in Round 6, the IBF mandatory challenger began putting two- and three-punch combinations together down the stretch of the bout.
It wasn’t a very entertaining bout, certainly not a slugfest like many of the recent main events hosted at StubHub, but the official judges credited Brook’s cleaner punching. Judges Max DeLuca and Adalaide Byrd had him winning handily by scores of 117-111 and 116-112. English judge Dave Parris scored the bout a draw, 114-114.
But a win is a win for Brook, who said the moment he was announced “new champion” had been his dream since he was nine years old.
“Everyone thought I’d get knocked out tonight but I came over from Britain and got the win,” Brook told Showtime’s Jim Gray.
“It was a scrappy fight but I did what I had to do with him. I’m usually more slick than this but he was rough and he came in low.”
Brook said he wasn’t bothered by Porter’s early relentlessness, brute strength and roughhouse tactics on the inside.
“I was born to do this,” he said. “I always deliver. I always find a way to win. The better the opponent, the better I am.”
The first opponent mentioned to Brook was fellow British star Amir Khan, who is coming off a solid decision victory over former titleholder Luis Collazo in May.
“The British public needs to see that fight but I think Khan needs to get in (line),” Brook said.
Porter wants to get in line, too. He wasn’t satisfied with his performance down the stretch of the fight or with some of Brook’s tactics or with the scorecards.
“I still feel like the champ because I fought like a champ tonight and I don’t think he beat the champ,” Porter said. “He held a substantial amount tonight.”
When asked if the cut bothered him in the late rounds, Porter said he didn’t know.
“I ignore all that stuff during a fight,” he said. “Tonight we didn’t get it all right but next time we will. I’m now 24-1, but I’m still here. We’ll come back stronger.”
DIRRELL WINS WBC SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE
In the co-featured bout of the Golden Boy Promotions card, unbeaten super middleweight Anthony Dirrell won the WBC title by outpointing defending beltholder Sakio Bika in one of the uglier title bouts in recent memory.
Dirrell (27-0, 22 KOs) won by scores of 114-113, 116-110 and 117-111. There weren’t many clean punches landed during the foul-marred 12-round clutch-and-grapple fest, but Dirrell landed more jabs and flush power shots than Bika (32-6-3, 21 KOs), who was penalized a point for low blows in Round 8.
Referee Jack Reiss had to halt the action numerous times to admonish both fighters for blatant fouls, excessive holding, pushing, shoving and take downs.
The bout, which was a rematch of the split-draw the two super middleweights fought to last December, was not at all entertaining but it was an emotional victory for Dirrell, a cancer survivor whose pro career has suffered numerous stalls due to illness and injury.
Email Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer