This, boxing fans, is what you call a solid premium cable fight card. On Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, IBF welterweight champion Shawn "Showtime" Porter (24-0-1, 15 KO) defends his title against the "Special One" Kell Brook (32-0, 22 KO).
That championship bout will be preceded by the rematch between WBC super middleweight champion Sakio Bika and Anthony Dirrell, as well as a title defense by all-action WBC lightweight champion Omar Figueroa against Daniel Estrada.
These may not be the best three fights of the year, but when you compare this tripleheader to last week's farcical card—headed by Danny Garcia's destruction of an overmatched Rod Salka—it looks like the greatest matchmaking in boxing history.
All three of Saturday's fights could be interesting and exciting, but the featured bout has some real potential. Rarely will you see two highly regarded welterweights fight for a title while both are still in the prime of their careers.
While Porter and Brook are not household names, hardcore boxing fans know that this is a matchup between two legitimate future opponents for Floyd Mayweather Jr. That helps to make this bout more compelling.
Here's the viewing information needed to catch this exciting card.
When: Saturday, August 16, at 9 p.m. ET
Where: StubHub Center in Carson, California
Getting Better with Every Fight
In one of Porter's first nationally televised bouts, he took on Alfonso Gomez in 2012. Porter's athleticism and toughness were apparent in that bout, though he looked a little awkward and rough around the edges.
Porter won that fight by unanimous decision, but it was hard to get overly excited about him as a prospect at that point in his career. Since then, Showtime has improved in almost every bout he's had. Even in his fight with Julio Diaz back December 2012, which ended in a split-decision draw, Porter took strides in his development.
In the rematch, he easily outfought Diaz to leave no doubt who the better man was. Porter's skills have grown, and he's become more refined since he first began to get attention as a professional. His above-average natural abilities have been cultivated with experience.
In December 2013, Porter dismantled Devon Alexander and took his IBF title in an easy unanimous-decision victory. In his first defense, he destroyed Paulie Malignaggi in four rounds.
Even as the champion, Porter was improving. Against Malignaggi, he looked sharper and stronger than he ever has. What's refreshing about Porter—at least at this stage of his career—is that he is fighting anyone thrown in front of him.
Make no mistake about it: Brook is a formidable fighter with little-to-no notoriety in the United States. From Porter's perspective, this bout is a significant risk. He doesn't seem too worried, though. Per Jake Donovan of Boxing Scene, Porter said:
I've pretty much fought the who's who of young fighters out there. With that being said, it's just another step up. He's the guy that is mandatory for the IBF title, and the guy that we were told we had to fight. We go in there with a great game plan and we'll execute it and fight him and move on from there.
If Porter can score another impressive win, the next step in his career could be bigger and better. Perhaps a bout with the other young budding superstar of the 147-pound division, Keith "One Time" Thurman, would be in order.
First things first, though. Porter has to deal with a special opponent on Saturday.
Branching out for Greatness
Though Brook may not be well-known in the United States, he's all the rage in England. The undefeated 28-year-old has been captivating English audiences since he won the BBB of C championship in 2008.
While Brook has faced and defeated the likes of Matthew Hatton, Carson Jones and Vyacheslav Senchenko in his career, he's fought almost exclusively in England. Thus, he hasn't gained a following in the United States.
In search of international notoriety, a world championship and fat paychecks in the future, Brook is coming to America to fight for just the second time in his career.
Previously, Brook had several agreements in place to take on Alexander, but injuries and other factors led to numerous cancellations. This time, the fight and the opportunity are real.
How big is Brook thinking when it comes to this fight? Per Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail, Brook said, "The winner will hold the keys to Fort Knox."
Brook isn't the first British fighter who has had to come to the U.S. to get his title shot. Lloyd Honeyghan shocked the world in 1986 when he stopped Donald Curry to win the undisputed welterweight title.
The Special One would love to be the Honeyghan of his day, but Porter will be doing everything in his power not to reprise Curry's role as the victimized American.
Both Porter and Brook can box, but they also possess one-punch knockout power. Eager to make a statement, we should see both men take their shots at ending the fight in spectacular fashion.
Early in Porter's career, his forward aggression would sometimes smother his punches and seemingly keep him off balance. In his recent fights, he's still effectively been awkward but in far better control as he puts pressure on his opponents.
It's been a matter of improving his footwork.
Brook has excellent footwork, but his potential Achilles' heel is a lack of head movement. At times, Brook stands too straight and stares down his target. This tendency almost got him into trouble against Senchenko, and it's the reason he's had a few anxious moments in other fights.
That said, when Brook fights off his powerful and accurate jab, he can be a handful for just about any opponent—including Porter.
One issue Brook may have is his disproportionately short arms. At 5'9", he's a fairly tall welterweight, but his 69" reach, per BoxRec, is shorter than most elite fighters at 147 pounds—including Porter.
Showtime stands just 5'7", but his reach is 69.5". This could be a significant factor in the fight. If Brook struggles to establish the jab, he'll have a hard time stopping Porter from putting pressure on him and landing power shots.
Mix in the sporadic lack of head movement and Brook could easily find himself in trouble. To the Special One's credit, he's displayed great recuperative ability in his career. Senchenko hurt him in the fourth round, but Brook came back to flatten him just 30 seconds or so later in the bout.
Will he be able to do the same thing to Porter?
My answer is no. Porter's improvement, athleticism and physical and mental toughness will wear Brook down. Porter will land the more telling blows, and he'll earn an impressive stoppage win near the eighth round.
Per Odds Shark, Porter opened as a 50-139 favorite, which might not be enticing enough for gamblers to jump on. While I have no advice on that front, I would bet on this being one heck of a fight.
Follow Brian Mazique, the sports and video game journalist on Twitter.
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