Junior middleweight prospect Shawn Porter is blunt when asked to give himself a grade for his last bout against Russell Jordan on February 19th on the campus of Cleveland State University. While he won, Porter failed to impress in front of a national audience watching on ESPN2. This Friday night, he co-headlines the latest edition of “ShoBox” by taking on Raul Pinzon.
But going back to his last outing, Porter says, "Honestly, we all sat down as a team, took a look at the film, we decided it was a ‘C-/D’ effort. Not the effort, but the performance and, since then, we’ve come back to the gym and we’ve trained twice as hard, changed a little bit, the way we do things. So this fight we’re looking to dominate."
It’s not that 22-year-old native of Akron, Ohio didn’t clearly out-point Jordan; it’s just that he failed to impress in doing so. He looked like a young fighter who seemed to be pressing in front of his hometown fans and the large television platform. But he insists, none of that factored into this performance.
"I don’t think it did," he claimed. "Definitely, the national TV didn’t; I don’t think being at home did, either. When I got in the ring, it felt like another fighter and it didn’t feel like I was at home. It didn’t feel like I was fighting in front of a bunch of my friends and all that kinda stuff. But I think, hopefully next time, going home it will be a lot better performance for us."
What may have affected this outing was facing a tall, gangly southpaw. Despite getting left-handed sparring at the Wild Card Boxing Club, it didn’t provide the exact look he needed. "Yeah, yeah, that definitely did have a little bit of an effect on me," admitted Porter, with a laugh. "He was a little bit taller than Craig McEwan and a lot lankier and a lot more unorthodox than Craig and that made it hard. It made the fight very difficult. I had some great sparring going into the fight, but a few things he did threw me off a little."
As he watched the fight film, one thing went through his mind: "What am I doing?"
"I kept seeing what I should’ve seen in the fight and just a lot of regrets, the punches I didn’t throw and the moves I didn’t make. Like I said, we came back to the gym, that way we don’t have to live with those regrets," Porter said.
Going into that fight, his father/trainer, Kenny, insisted that all external distractions would be kept at arm’s length. He was on him like the Secret Service, as they approached the fight. But there was one thing he couldn’t stop- modern technology. More specifically, his son’s cell phone. The father said, "He was in the room next to me when we got to Cleveland. But the one thing you can’t stop, is the text messages. You can stop all the friends from coming back to town from college for the weekend, [but] the Facebook, the MySpace, and I believe what happened is, although no one visited him in his room, there was a lot of people saying, ’Hey man, we’re coming back; we haven’t seen you since 2006 and after the fight, we’re going to have a great time.’ All of those things were on his mind going into the fight. They distracted him from following our game plan."
As they head to Maryland, where the ever-popular Fernando Guerrero headlines, he will make sure those issues don’t exist.
"I definitely think it’ll be less distractions, more focus. But I’m also aware of the text messaging, and the MySpace-ing," and as he says this, he sounds just like any other parent after their child gets a less than satisfactory grade on an algebra test. And given how the last exam went, Mr. Porter will be confiscating his son’s phone.
Yes, father knows best.
"I gotta do that this time. I have to do that," he stated. "Because as much as you think a guy is focused, the technology now goes off in his pocket and there’s a girl saying, ’Oh, I can’t wait for you to knock him out’ and he’s got to text her back and say, ’Yeah, what are we going to do after we knock him out?’ Now your mind is on something else. That’s technology."
Eddie Futch never had to deal with iPhones and Blackberrys. It’s certainly is a different era.
"We want to keep Shawn grounded and understand that, ’You are still a student, you still need to learn. You don’t know everything. All of this jazzy stuff, what was that?’"
But the Jordan fight, for as aesthetically unpleasing as it was, was also very beneficial, in terms of the big picture.
"To be honest with you, as you or someone else may allude to, ’OK, that was not a safe fight’- I didn’t want it to be safe. I wanted Shawn to have to work. I wanted Shawn to really have to work in camp and study. And for me, this is a classroom and I’m giving him classwork everyday and I’m giving him homework everyday. Then, we take that final test. So for me, that’s what I wanted, a test," said Kenny.
This was a needed reality check; after getting a lot of attention and praise for his work as a sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, it was almost forgotten that Porter was still a fledgling young prizefighter with less than 15 fights under his belt. And fights like the one he had with Jordan are very beneficial for the overall development of a boxer.
"I truly believe that," said the father. "If I could’ve had a choice of how I wanted the fight to go, a quick knockout with four, five rounds or him having to go ten rounds and dig deep and have to listen to his corner, get a head-butt and have to deal with a cut and have to deal with all the distractions he had to deal with, there’s growth there that cannot be gained any other way. You have to experience it."
Porter believes that while it was his least impressive win, it was his most useful.
"Yeah, most definitely, I went ten rounds, the first time I had ever gone the distance. It’s the second time I’ve ever gone the distance in a fight and to go over ten rounds, I learned a lot more that fight then I learned in my first 12 fights."
Tickets for the June 5th bout at Yankee Stadium between WBA junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto go on sale at noon starting on Friday. Tickets are priced at $400, $300, $200, $75 and $50. They can be purchased at www.Ticketmaster.com
Top Rank has dubbed this promotion, “Stadium Slugfest,” but with Foreman involved, shouldn’t it really be called “Pitchers’ Duel”?
People keep asking if Rafael’s is really as good as I say, or just another Kim hype job. Well, my fine readers, don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Santosh A., a reader who, upon my suggestion, dropped by this fine Mexican eatery in Montebello on Thursday.
Thanks for the recommendation, I had an early lunch there and it was really good...I had the chicken enchiladas and the rice they served was some of the best I have ever had.
Definitely worth a return visit (or three)
And he hasn’t even tried the steak picado yet.
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