The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of August 18
On Saturday night, Kell Brook traveled across the pond and lifted Shawn Porter's IBF Welterweight Championship with a clear decision victory (114-114, 117-111, 116-112) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
The 28-year-old Brook proved many of his naysayers wrong, outboxing the aggressive Porter and demonstrating that he belongs in the conversation among the best young welterweights in the world.
With his big win, we ponder how far "The Special One" can go and assess how Porter can recover from his first loss.
Then we move on to action coming in the weeks ahead, looking at the Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana 2 undercard and whether it will generate any additional pay-per-view sales.
Rumor has it that Gennady Golovkin's next fight is nearly finalized, but should fans be excited?
Finally, is a return to the friendly confines of Cincinnati just what Adrien Broner needs to get his career back on firm footing?
These are the hottest boxing storylines for the upcoming week.
How Far Can Kell Brook Go?
Brook traveled all the way from his hometown of Sheffield, England, with an unblemished record and an attitude that said this was his time to shine.
But, still, you couldn’t help but wonder whether or not The Special One was getting himself in a bit above his depth against Porter, a fellow undefeated who had blitzed through a pair of top-10 welterweights in his last two fights.
We can put all that speculation to rest now.
Brook proved on Saturday night that he belongs in the discussion among the top 147-pound fighters in boxing. He used his long jab and straight right hand to upset Porter’s rhythm and capture both a clear decision and a world title.
He’ll return to the United Kingdom—where he was already a star—with a whole lot more street cred and more than a few good options for his next fight.
Brook called out Keith Thurman, who was ringside, in his post-fight comments to Jim Gray, and that would be another intriguing matchup between undefeated welterweight titlists.
Mayweather—who was also mentioned post-fight—seems a long shot, but that doesn’t mean Brook should have a hard time securing meaningful, lucrative fights in the near term.
The money—both literal and figurative—would seem to be on Amir Khan.
An all-U.K. showdown—Sheffield vs. Bolton—would be an absolute blockbuster and has everyone involved dreaming of the 80,000 strong drawn by Carl Froch and George Groves to London's Wembley Stadium earlier this year.
Brook mentioned that he felt the Porter fight would be his key to Fort Knox, and a win would open doors to other big-money fights.
He’s satisfied the first part of that equation, beating Porter, and with a loaded welterweight division all around him, the second part should be the easy work.
Can Shawn Porter Recover?
The 26-year-old Porter is a young, hungry lion, and you can bet that he’ll head back to the drawing board and learn lessons from his first defeat.
He looked out of sorts in many of the rounds, having tremendous difficulty getting inside of Brook’s jab-and-grab style.
Whenever Porter was outside, Brook popped him with a stiff jab and straight right, disrupting his rhythm.
When the fight got to close quarters, Brook tied up, smothering Porter’s offense and using his physicality to make sure the now-former champion couldn’t rough him up.
You could make a case that the holding was excessive at times, but it was smart.
It negated much of Porter’s work to get inside and gave him little return on his investment.
This loss had the look of a blueprint type of fight for Porter—one of those contests where we'll look back and say that we learned how to beat him.
That’s not to say that he can’t recover or that any fighter will be able to do what Brook did.
The 5'9" Brit had a significant height edge—like many of the 5'7" Porter’s opponents before him—and he used his jab effectively to control range and had the chin to absorb the big shots when they came.
Porter took the welterweight division by storm with a style that resembled the Tasmanian Devil from the Looney Tunes cartoons. He’d burst across the ring, winging punches from every possible angle and grind his way to a victory through a combination of physical and mental pressure.
That didn’t work this time out because he was presented with a slick boxer who knew how to turn that aggression against him.
Nobody is saying that Porter should undergo any sort of wholesale changes, but he should take stock of what works and what doesn’t, add a few new wrinkles to his attack and come back stronger.
Will the Undercard Move the Needle for Mayweather vs. Maidana?
Mayweather vs. Maidana 2 might be the main event, but the people at Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions are hoping that the undercard bouts will add a few more sales on PPV.
Since building a legitimate challenger to HBO’s cable-boxing preponderance, Showtime has generally sought to provide fans with cards—particularly on PPV—that offer some decent value for their time and money.
Boxing fans have long railed against the need to pay upward of $60-70 bucks for the chance to see one good fight preceded by a couple of woeful mismatches or borderline exhibitions.
Mayweather has generally featured budding stars—Canelo Alvarez, Danny Garcia and more recently Leo Santa Cruz—and fighters who compete under his Mayweather Promotions banner on his undercards.
Viewed in this context, the Mayhem undercard is a disappointment.
It doesn’t feature much in the way of can’t-miss fights and probably isn’t going to move the needle very far in terms of generating additional money.
In the co-feature, undefeated Mexican dynamo Santa Cruz defends his super bantamweight championship against Manuel Roman, a nondescript former sparring partner
Roman is woefully overmatched against Santa Cruz, and this has the look of an exhibition and not a co-main event.
Miguel Vazquez, a solid technical fighter who can put you to sleep, will put his lightweight title on the line against Mayweather Promotions’ contender Mickey Bey.
Bey is probably best known for being stopped by John Molina in the literal closing seconds of a 2013 bout in which he was ahead by an overwhelming margin on the scorecards.
Somewhat intriguing? Yes.
But PPV worthy? Borderline.
Opening up the pay card will be the usually exciting Mexican slugger Alfredo Angulo, who's returning from a lopsided knockout loss to Canelo against unheralded James De La Rosa.
Ironically, the best bout of the night—Molina vs. Humberto Soto—will be televised as part of the free PPV countdown show that will be telecast on Showtime's network.
This isn't the worst PPV undercard in recent memory—not even close—but it guarantees that Mayweather and Maidana will be the ones slogging to pull the wagon up the hill to generate PPV sales.
Nobody is buying this for the undercard.
Does Marco Antonio Rubio Make Sense for Gennady Golovkin?
Golovkin vs. Marco Antonio Rubio isn’t a done deal, yet, but it seems that, barring any unforeseen setbacks, it will likely become one soon.
The bout is being targeted for an October 18 date on HBO, and given his recent performance at Madison Square Garden, this seems to be another disappointing setback for the man known as GGG.
Rubio is only 34 years old, but it seems that he’s been around forever.
The Mexican currently holds the absolutely worthless interim WBC Middleweight Championship—Miguel Cotto holds the real title—and that shouldn’t count toward the equation of whether or not he’s a worthy challenger.
Rubio hasn’t beaten a solid opponent in years—at least since beating David Lemieux in 2011—and doesn’t belong anywhere near the top of the middleweight conversation or in this type of fight.
Golovkin is coming off a one-punch demolition of former world champion Daniel Geale in July.
It was the best performance of his career, given his toughest opponent to date, and knocked a few more people off the bandwagon of people questioning his credentials.
Boxing is a business, and without direct knowledge of the thought processes or business realities of planning GGG’s next fight, we can’t say definitively that this wasn’t the best option.
Golovkin vs. Rubio is just nowhere near the type of fight that fans were hoping to see. Not with some talk about Sam Soliman and a legitimate middleweight unification on the table, or even some speculation—nothing rising above that level—about “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin.
Soliman might not be a world-beater himself—the tricky Australian has gotten here with an awkward, high-volume style—but he has a real belt and presents a better challenge than Rubio.
He was reportedly offered the fight but turned it down, per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, electing to pursue a farce defense against former champion Jermain Taylor in October.
Few, if any, will view Rubio as anything resembling a legitimate threat to stop the Golovkin express, and that makes it very difficult to get excited for this type of fight.
Are Golovkin and his people to blame?
We don't really know, but that doesn't make this any less disappointing for the fans, and surely the fighter.
Is Returning Home Boom or Bust for Adrien Broner?
Broner has always been something of a—forgive the pun—problem child in the sport of boxing. He has talent, obviously, with three world titles, but the total package is constructed in such a way that it turns many people away.
Boxing fans are an interesting lot, for sure, and they’re usually willing to forgive some level of personal transgressions and personality quirks so long as you take care of business on fight night.
Broner carries himself in such a way, however, that the minute the product turns south inside the ring he has no goodwill built up to fall back on.
He hasn’t generated the sort of credibility or benefit of the doubt that allow a stumble to be quickly forgiven, and that’s why his return from a loss to Maidana has been so difficult.
Far from humbled by the experience, Broner has maintained his flashy, brash ways, and he continues to be polarizing.
Unlike his mentor, Mayweather, The Problem isn’t the type of fighter fans love to hate. Most just, well, hate him.
Broner will return to the ring for his second fight since the loss, taking on twice-beaten but dangerous junior welterweight Emmanuel Taylor in his hometown of Cincinnati.
It will be Broner’s first fight at home since knocking out Vicente Escobedo in 2012, and it’s a more dangerous challenge than may appear on the surface.
Taylor is a solid boxer, and he’s shown in his last two fights—a loss to Chris Algieri and a win over Karim Mayfield, both by decision—that he can competently compete against quality opponents.
Broner needs a big performance in front of his hometown crowd, and he must be hoping the thrill of fighting at home will outweigh the pressure.
His stock has—and continues to—drop like a boulder since losing to Maidana and looking average against light-hitting Carlos Molina in May.
Taylor is a competent pro, and Broner can't afford another setback.
Especially not at home.
The question remains whether fighting at home will prove to be a boon or an albatross.