Kell Brook won the IBF Welterweight title (33-0, 22 KOs) with a majority decision over Shawn Porter (24-1-1, 15 KOs) at the outdoor StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., outside of Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Anthony Dirrell became the second cancer survivor to win a championship and Omar Figueroa successfully defended his WBC Lightweight title on that same card.
“It’s been a long-time coming but it’s been worth it let me tell you,” said Brook. “It’s worth it ten times over.”
The undefeated Brook began his career nearly ten years ago and had only fought once before outside the United Kingdom. Porter was coming off of his first defense of the title, a brutal knockout of Paul Malignaggi last April in Washington, D.C.
Every round remained close with Brook landing power shots from a distance and Porter brawling up close and landing more punches, many of which were ineffective. In the first two rounds, Porter attacked his taller opponent, ending up in numerous clinches. An accidental head butt in the second opened a cut over Brook’s left eye.
In the fourth and fifth, Brook landed more punches and anticipated his attacks. Porter incorporated more lateral movement in the sixth round and was able to attack Brook more effectively. However, an accidental head butt opened a nasty cut over the champ’s right eye.
The seventh round was also close, but Brook seemed to gain the edge with a stunning uppercut in the final seconds of the round. He started off the ninth with a strong left hook and landed a strong jab and right cross later in the round.
Porter’s inside attack was more effective in the tenth and eleventh rounds and both fighters understood the urgency of the final round. Porter staying within inches of Brook through its entirety and the bell sounded with the fighters in a clinch.
The final scorecards read 117-111 (Max DeLuca) and 116-112 (Adalaide Byrd) in favor of Brook and a 114-114 (Dave Parras) draw. The final decision was not without controversy.
“Too much went on tonight for me to give my final conclusion,” said Porter. “I will say that I think I’m still the champion. I fought like a champion and I don’t think he beat the champion tonight.”
Porter also stated that he will pursue a rematch.
Anthony Dirrell (27-0-1, 22 KOs) won the WBC Super Middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika (32-6-3, 21 KOs) in their rematch. The Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor became the second cancer survivor to win a title one week after Daniel Jacobs, an osteosarcoma survivor and WBA Middleweight champ, became the first.
“This journey has been amazing,” said Dirrell. “With all my friends and family around, I can’t even fathom it right now.”
The two fighters had battled to a draw in December of 2013, both having made mistakes that cost them the victory. Bika’s roughhouse tactics cost him a point, while Dirrell ran out of energy in the later rounds and ran from Bika in the final ten seconds of the fight.
In the first two rounds, Dirrell attacked and the two fighters ended up in countless ugly clinches. The action was so bad that referee Jack Reese broke the two up in the second, saying, “You two look like s— doing this.”
The situation got a little “prettier” in the third with Dirrell landing power shots with his jab. In the fourth, he was reprimanded for pushing Bika’s head down.
Both Dirrell and Bika began to lay off the clinches and give each other more room in the sixth, but were still very selective with their punches. Dirrell then began to dictate the pace of the fight in the seventh, nailing Bika with two hard right hands.
The eight round produced the most drama. First, Bika was deducted a point for a questionable low blow. The champ then responded by putting Dirrell on the ropes, but he weathered the assault and then rocked Bika with another right. Bika then wrestled Dirrell to the ground in the waning seconds of the round.
Dirrell slipped in the ninth and was hit by Bika while on the canvas. Riess determined that it was an accident and did not deduct a point. In the next two rounds, it was apparent that Bika knew he was likely behind on points and went after Dirrell.
The challenger controlled the final round, keeping the action in the center of the ring. The final scorecards read 117-110, 116-111 and 114-113 in favor of Dirrell.
Omar Figueroa (24-0-1, 18 KOs) defended his WBC Lightweight title with a ninth-round knockout of Daniel Estrada (32-3-1, 24 KOs) in a fight that was exciting from the opening bell. Estrada, entering the ring two weeks after losing his sister and niece in a car crash, attacked in the early rounds. His punches often hit the offense-minded Figueroa flush. However, one of his punches went low in the third, causing a 45-second delay. Figueroa responded with his trademark inside assault and put his opponent on the ropes.
The champ continued his flurry of attacks in the fourth round, bloodying Estrada’s nose. Location was key for the next four rounds, with Estrada dictating the pace in the center of the ring, while Figueroa controlled the action on the ropes.
An accidental head collision in the eighth round opened a deep cut over Figueroa’s left eye. In the ninth, the champion did not give Estrada the chance to open the cut further, dropping him early with a wicked right. Estrada rose to his feet but could not defend himself and the fight was quickly stopped.
With this victory, Figueroa is exploring moving up to junior welterweight.
“You know, it’s really nothing against the 135 [pound] division, it’s just that my body is just not up to it anymore and I think I’ll be much more comfortable at 140,” said Figueroa.
On the undercard, Deontay Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs) extended the fifth-longest knockout streak in heavyweight history with a lackluster fourth-round TKO over Jason Gavern (25-17-4, 11 KOs). The journeyman boxer and full-time landscaper was dropped twice before ending the bout on his stool.
Jorge Linares (37-3, 24 KOs) continued his two-year journey towards resurgence, stopping Ira Terry (26-13, 16 KOs) in the second round with a right cross so vicious that it prompted the immediate stoppage of the bout.
Light welterweight Lydell Rhodes (22-0, 11 KOs) won his national television debut with a fourth-round stoppage of John Nater (13-7, 10 KOs).