Shawn Porter wants to be fighter. Anything he does beyond that seems to be of secondary concern to him. He’s a hard worker. He fights with urgency. He does everything he can do to win. Adrien Broner does not want to be a fighter. He wants to be famous. He’s gotten by on talent and athleticism alone, and any hard work he’s done to become an elite-level fighter seems to have taken place years ago.
Barring a significant gap in talent and skill, a guy that wants to be a fighter will almost always beat a fighter who just wants to be famous. Such was the case on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as Porter, the fighter, defeated Broner, the celebrity, by unanimous decision.
Judges at ringside score the bout 114-112, 115-111 and 118-108 for Porter.
“That’s how you beat a great fighter intelligently,” said Porter after the fight. He told NBC’s Kenny Rice he established his jab early and proved to be the better boxer. It was an outstanding effort from Porter. It was much less so from Broner as well as referee Tony Weeks, who allowed Broner to foul Porter with holds, forearms and general mauling tactics all throughout the bout until finally taking a point away in Round 11.
In fact, the entire fight might have been a microcosm for Broner’s whole career. Broner, the flashy and talented boxer, came into the fight dancing and smiling. Was he even taking things seriously? The bell rang, and he was mostly interested in posing and fouling. Does he want to be a fighter or just want to look like a fighter? There’s a huge difference.
The worst part wasn’t even Broner. It was Weeks. Here was the man who was supposed to have control of the action. Here was the man given authority to tell the 25-year-old Broner all the things he couldn’t and shouldn’t have been doing. I imagine Broner has lots people like Weeks in his life. Do his managers, his promoters, his family or his friends ever tell him when he’s acting like a buffoon? Or do they just let it slide like Weeks did? Evidence supports the latter.
No matter, Porter, age 27, capitalized on all of Broner’s mistakes and took home the win. Both fighters are from Ohio, Porter from Cleveland and Broner from Cincinnati. Cleveland prevailed.
Both fighters started slow and cautious in Round 1. Porter caught Broner with two left hooks as Broner was moving backwards, causing Broner to hold on for dear life. The two wrestled a bit at the end of the round, pushing and mauling back at each other to see who was the stronger and rougher man. It was Porter.
Broner’s plan from the start of Round 2 seemed to be landing his blazingly fast left hook as Porter advanced toward him. But Porter was patient in his approach and able to duck it or faint the punch out before rushing in to do work. Broner’s other plan was grabbing hold of Porter if he got passed the hook, holding his head down and not letting him get anything but wide and blind shots off. Broner’s faster, shorter punches gave him the edge in Round 2.
Porter was busier in Round 3. He concentrated his efforts on Broner’s body. Broner held anytime Porter got in close, pushing Porter’s head down to the ground or shoving his forearm into Porter’s throat. Weeks allowed it. But Porter used good head movement and fancy footwork to alternate his attack enough to do the meaningful work inside.
Broner slipped off his feet at the begging of Round 4. He wasn’t hurt, but Porter jumped on him anyway. Broner mostly held and mauled with his forearms. Weeks let him do it. But Porter bullied Broner around the ring and to the ropes and landed punches anywhere and everywhere he could.
Broner was the aggressor in Round 5. He showed his talent. He came out throwing sharp left hooks and was the fighter walking forward for the first two minutes of the round. This was how he should have fought the entire fight. But Porter weathered the flashy and clean blows to get back to jousting forward behind his telephone pole jab by the last minute of action. Still, it was Broner’s best round yet.
Porter reasserted himself in Round 6. He used swift head movement to dart his way into punching range. Once there, he let his hands goes. Broner landed single counters here and there, but Porter’s physical strength and assertiveness was clearly winning both the round and the fight.
Broner intentionally fouled Porter with backhands twice in Round 7 while Weeks was breaking the two men up from a hold that Broner initiated. But Weeks did not take a point away from Broner, only offering him a warning for the behavior. Otherwise the three minutes ticked away with Porter intelligently walking Broner down.
Round 8 was beautiful. Both fighters looked haggard, but both threw punches from decent enough space to land clean and often. Despite clearly being tired, both fought at a relatively torrid pace and there was nary a clinch in the three minutes, at least in comparison to the previous seven rounds.
But Broner fouled Porter egregiously again in Round 9. He grappled both arms when Porter bullied him to the ropes, then stuck his open glove in Porter’s face to keep him away. Again, Weeks did not take away a point. Broner landed a few flashy counters in the round, but Porter threw and landed more.
Porter landed a hard overhand right in Round 10. Broner responded with a hook and an illegal forearm. Porter walked him down, though, and landed another vicious right hand again a few seconds afterward. By the end of the round, Porter had stunned him again with the same right hand in the corner. It was the most one-sided three minutes yet.
Broner surprisingly fought with no urgency in Round 11. He was content to hold and dance away from any and all action. Even Weeks, who to this point in the fight could have been mistaken for Broner’s biggest supporter, seemed to have enough of it. He finally took a point away from the hapless Broner much to the delight of the crowd who let out a sarcastic cheer. Broner is a very talented fighter. He could be great. Even if he just wanted to be very good, he could do that easier than most. He dropped Porter like a sack of bricks to start Round 12 with a sharp, hard left hook. But when Porter got up, Broner either didn’t know what to do or didn’t have the fortitude to do it.
Porter, the hurt fighter, bullied and pressured Broner, the famous talent, for the remainder of the round. Again, it was Broner initiating clinches. Again, it was Broner losing the fight. Again, it was Broner being Broner.
Final CompuBox stats showed Porter outlanded Broner 149-88 in the bout and 99-68 in power shots. That’s what a fighter does. He throws and lands punches.
Spence Stops Lo Greco in Three
One of boxing’s best young prospects, Errol Spence Jr., stopped Phil Lo Greco in just three rounds. Lo Greco, the self-proclaimed “Italian Sensation,” was offered the fight this week after Spence’s original opponent could not make weight.
Lo Greco gave it his all. He tried to force the young southpaw back in Round 1, but by Round 2 was taking heavy blows to the head and body. He came out of his corner in Round 3 looking like a beaten man, and Spence made him look it even more by knocking him down with a counter right hook. The brave Lo Greco rose to his feet but was staggered moments later by a straight left hand. Referee Robert Byrd stopped the bout with Lo Greco eating too punches on the ropes.
Spence, age 25, appears to have legitimate superstar potential. In fact, of all the fighters in Al Haymon’s impressive stable, he might just have the most upside.