This Saturday a welterweight showdown of epic proportions is happening. However, there was once a time when the world scowled at the mention of your grandfather’s favorite sport.
The word Boxing didn’t elicit the same fervor it had decades ago when Hagler, Duran, Hearns, and Leonard took center stage.
Nor did it have the sensationalism ushered in by the wild in-ring and out of ring exploits of the most feared heavyweight of all time, Mike Tyson. Save for Floyd Mayweather, the Lebron James progenitor strategic business-mind-meets-athlete, the game was relatively humdrum.
However, through the acquisition and development of the next generation of top tier talent by gatekeepers like Al Haymon, Oscar de la Hoya, and Bob Arum, boxing is hotter than ever.
An entire generation that was raised on Octagon exploits and a three-round MMA event structure that lends perfectly to the impatient social media soaked millennial mind, boxing has slowly made its comeback.
Led by the welterweight division that Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao made uber-famous, the new jacks in boxing are now becoming its stalwarts engaged in there own unique game of thrones.
Cue Jon Snow, the reluctant King with a heart and you will find similarities in current WBC welterweight champion, “Showtime” Shawn Porter.
Although only 31 years old, Porter is a veteran with a throwback fighter’s game. In boxing, he is called a dog because like man’s best friend, Porter will never not be in your grill. His penchant to stay on the inside and dirty box has labeled him a dirty fighter by some and a workhorse by others.
The fact that he has two losses, to Kell Brook and Keith Thurman, have not tarnished his career and as the sitting WBC champion, while both Brook and Thurman are currently strapless, Porter can smile a lot brighter these days.
Still, taking on a challenge like Errol Spence is a daunting one. Spence has been touted as a veritable unbeatable champion and as the youngest of the current relevant welterweight fray, Porter is risking more than his belt. He is also risking his brand.
“It’s how my dad raised me and it’s where I come from. We were never allowed to shy away from any challenge and that’s the way I’ve lived my life,” said Porter during a media conference call. “So when it comes to taking on Errol Spence, to me it’s like taking on any other fighter. It’s not like taking on, as everyone has coined him, the boogeyman or the best welterweight in the world. To me I’m taking on another great, exciting fighter and I’m going to beat that great, exciting fighter.”
When you look at how Manny Pacquiao dismantled Keith Thurman, what many would call being exposed, is Porter making the right move against a younger more formidable fighter to solidify his legacy in boxing?
Any boxing purist would say ‘yes’ resoundingly and millennials would have to understand that in boxing, taking on challenges that seem above your current ability is what makes you a legend.
Truth or Dare?
IBF welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence needs no introduction at this point. For a generation who grew up knowing more about Adrien Broner than Muhammad Ali, Spence is there new silent general shepherding in an old school boxing aesthetic while remaining popping on the ‘gram.
While the world clamors for Spence to cut to the chase and get a fight made with WBO welterweight champ Terence “Bud” Crawford, Spence understands why this fight is important.
Porter is a stepping stone fighter, not a cupcake, but an important launch point. Win, lose, or draw a fight with Shawn Porter will be a war and Spence knows that.
“Showtime” has never been knocked out and has squeezed out victories over Danny Garcia and Yordenis Ugas that many thought he might not win.
“Making that statement is something that I really want to do,” said Spence during a media conference call. “It’s one of my goals in this fight is to knock him out. I’d be the first person and that would make it a real statement. I’m ready to go in there and deliver. I want it to be a great knockout.”
For Spence, a win launches him into the stratosphere as his second PPV fight in yet another legendary building against a proven fighter in the STAPLES Center.
Placing his name and current clout on the line against a dangerous and relentless fighter like Porter is a risk indeed but that is why the fans love “The Truth”. He steps up to the plate against tough guys and does it with a southern ease that makes it all seem so effortless.
The fact that there are so many more amazing fights potentially before him like Crawford and even Pacquiao, are making Spence the biggest draw in the money-weight division and deservedly so.
This Saturday the millennial generation is looking to become perennials and regardless of the outcome, boxing will be better off for it.