When it comes to boxing skills, technique and fluidity are two of the most praised attributes for fighters to possess. When analyzing prospects, we pontificate over the sharpness of the fighters’ jabs or the compactness of their hooks. Defensively, we want to know about foot speed, angles and head movement.
Highly-touted prospects are often brought along slowly, so we don’t get an opportunity to judge a fighter’s heart or willpower until several years into their career. As a result, those attributes are often seen as bonuses, the icing on top, rather than essential skills.
With “Showtime” Shawn Porter (29-2-1, 17 KO), his biggest skill is his will. Pitted against Danny “Swift” Garcia (34-2-0, 20 KO), Porter used relentless pressure and physicality to defeat Garcia via unanimous decision (116-112, 115-113, 115-113). With the victory, Porter won the WBC welterweight title that was vacated by Keith Thurman.
The early rounds of the fight were controlled by Garcia. It seemed that Porter was intent on trying to prove everybody wrong by out-boxing the boxer. By the fourth round though, Porter reverted back to the style that has made him so successful. He stopped trying to be cute and started invading Garcia’s personal space.
Inside, Porter unleashed lethal body shots and headbutts. From the outside, Porter was willing to eat Garcia’s best shots in order to land his own lunging, looping punches. As awkward and technically flawed as Porter is, his saving grace is his ability to press fighters into discomfort.
After the decision was announced, Garcia stated that he thought he did enough to win the fight. However, a look at the CompuBox stats highlights the difference in punch output and aggressiveness.
Garcia landed 168 of 472 punches (36 percent). That averages out to less than 40 punches thrown per round. Compare that to Porter’s 180 landed punches out of 742 punches thrown (24 percent). The victor threw nearly 62 punches per round.
Despite Garcia’s wide margin of victory in terms of accuracy, he simply didn’t let his hands go enough to pull out the decision.
“I said I wasn't leaving New York without this belt,” Porter stated after the fight. “And I'm not leaving New York without this belt!" Porter said
After the fight, IBF middleweight champ Errol Spence entered the ring and challenged Porter to a unification bout.
"The same way that you called Danny out, I'm going to call you out," Spence said. "I think I'm the best welterweight in the division. I'm the truth, and I guarantee you I come home as unified champion. I definitely want that fight against Porter."
This is going to be the easiest fight to make in boxing," Porter responded. “Do I look worried?”
GGG vs Canelo II
Last September, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin squared off in a middleweight title about against Canelo Alvarez. After 12 hard-fought rounds, it appeared that Golovkin did just enough to earn a decision victory. Somehow, shaky scorecard queen judge Adelaide Byrd managed to score the bout 118-110 in favor of Alvarez. Meanwhile, Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 in favor of Golovkin and Don Trella scored it a draw at 114-114.
Though the fight was ruled a majority draw, it seemed as if a majority of fight fans believed Golovkin deserved the victory.
An immediate rematch was ordered but then was canceled after Alvarez tested positive for banned substances. After a year of haggling and disputes over Alvarez’s drug drama, the two middleweight combatants will finally meet each other in the ring for a highly-anticipated rematch.
In the first fight, Golovkin played the role of stalker and Alvarez moved around the ring well. Golovkin is known for tracking down his opponents by cutting off the ring, but he struggled in that area during the first bout. Having seen Alvarez in the ring once, I have to imagine that Golovkin will cut off the ring better in the second bout and be able to land punches more consistently.
With all the drama regarding the failed drug test, it would be a reasonable assumption that Alvarez has been somewhat distracted over the past year. Alvarez blamed the issue on eating tainted meat. Many inside the boxing world have cast doubts on that excuse. That means Alvarez has been forced to do some image maintenance along the way.
On the other side, at age 36, Golovkin is a year closer to Father Time reclaiming those reflexes. One of the first things to go with older fighters is often stamina. The 28-year-old Alvarez will likely stay on his toes against the naturally bigger opponent. That means Golovkin will have to dig deep to earn the victory many though he deserved in the first fight.
Prediction: Last year’s fight truly was a “Big Drama Show.” This year, I think GGG still has enough in the tank to chop down Canelo. If Alvarez really was using banned substances, he’ll struggle without them in his system this go round, courtesy of enhanced testing. Golovkin will bully his way to a unanimous decision victory.
Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch on Twitter @ishcreates.