There's a plethora of talk about sparring, heading into Saturday's welterweight title fight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander "The Great" (25-1, 14 KO) will defend his title against undefeated challenger, Shawn Porter (22-0-1, 14 KO).
Up to now, the challenger's greatest claim to fame was being Manny Pacquiao's No. 1 sparring partner before Pacquiao's bout with Miguel Cotto in 2009.
This might explain why Alexander implied Porter has a sparring partner's mentality when speaking with Mike Coppinger of Boxing Scene.
Though Porter hasn't risen to the same heights as Alexander in his career, he's no slouch. He defeated Julio Diaz—the same man who nearly stopped Amir Khan— in his last fight and also outpointed Alfonso Gomez in 2012. He'll be a formidable challenger for Alexander.
The fight is the primary undercard bout on a card headlined by the Zab Judah vs. Paulie Malignaggi battle for Brooklyn. Here's how you can catch this event.
When: Saturday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn
The Unchallenged Champion
In almost every instance where Alexander has been set to take on a serious challenge in his career, the fight has been cancelled or postponed. He had three fights with highly-regarded British boxer Kell Brook called off. Most recently, his attempts to take on Amir Khan stalled when the latter elected to wait for a shot at Floyd Mayweather Jr. rather than face Alexander, per Scott Gilfoid of Boxing News 24.
Perhaps Alexander is just having bad luck making fights with England's best. In Alexander's biggest fight to date, he lost a technical decision to Timothy Bradley in 2011.
Alexander chose not to continue after being headbutted for a second time by Bradley. The decision garnered Alexander a quitter tag from some like Allen Hmiel of Boxing News 24. Alexander is still trying to shake the dreaded label.
A win over Porter won't get Alexander much more respect than he has now, but it will keep him active, competitive and somewhat in the forefront of the boxing community's mind. Alexander needs a win over a big-time opponent. Beating Porter would at least keep him on track for that.
More Than Just a Sparring Partner?
When Alexander said Porter had a "sparring mentality," that was a pretty big insult. No fighter with serious aspirations to become champion wants to be known as a guy who is best suited to prepare other guys for big fights.
Porter is an exceptional natural athlete and a solid competitor. He isn't coming into the fight with Alexander just to fold easily. This is probably his best chance to become a world champion and he'll give it all he has.
Will that be enough, though?
From a pure speed standpoint, Alexander won't have Porter significantly outclassed. Where the champion is far superior is in punching accuracy, efficiency and defensive fundamentals. Alexander doesn't waste as much energy as Porter when he attacks. His punches are shorter and sharper than Porter's and he has better defense.
Alexander will need to be on his toes and he can't afford to take Porter lightly, but if he keeps his focus throughout, he should easily outbox the challenger with effective counterpunching and smart movement.
Alexander will win by unanimous decision.
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