Q&A: Shawn Porter
Shawn Porter arrived on the big stage last December when he wrested the IBF welterweight crown from Devon Alexander at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Going into that fight Porter (23-0-1, 14 knockouts) was a sizeable underdog (+450) but unperturbed as the rank outsider from Ohio boxed the fight of his life winning a unanimous decision by scores of 116-112 (twice) and 115-113.
Since then the 26-year-old Las Vegas resident has enjoyed his new found fame and doesn't intend to let that slip from his grasp when he takes on veteran two-division titleholder Paulie Malignaggi in his maiden title defense on Saturday.
“(With) this fight with Paulie, we look to do a lot of the same things [we did against Devon Alexander] but also be more dominant," Porter told RingTV.com. “We do look to stop Paulie, beat him down if we're not stopping him and look great doing it."
The 2008 Olympic alternate knows victory will put him on a collision course with mandatory challenger Kell Brook.
“It's a fight I welcome,” he said.
Along with Porter-Malignaggi, the Showtime-televised event, dubbed "History at the Capitol," which takes place at the DC Armory in Washington, is headlined by the Bernard Hopkins-Beibut Shumenov IBF/WBA light heavyweight unification bout and ably supported by WBO middleweight titlist Peter Quillin's defense against Lukas Konecny.
Anson Wainwright – On Saturday you look to make the first defense of your IBF welterweight crown against Paulie Malignaggi. What are your thoughts on that fight?
Shawn Porter – I'm excited, we feel strong, we feel really good about how camp has been. That's about it.
AW – What does Malignaggi bring to the table in terms of strengths and weaknesses?
SP – We're expecting hand speed and lots of punches, for him to try to out-hustle and outwork me, but we know that won’t happen. We have a game plan and we're going to stick to it. That game plan consists of being aggressive, taking away his speed and also outworking him. To make it clear, cut and dry, we expect to come into the ring and use his strength against him. Use hand speed that he can’t keep up with, make him work harder than he's ever worked in his life.
At this point I can't really say there's a specific weakness. I would say if anything he has trouble with guys who are aggressive and get to his body. He's got good foot movement and also good hand speed, so he knows how to keep guys off him but I'm a quick strong guy and with that being said I plan to stick to him and work hard and I think I’ll be able to slow him down and get to his body.
AW – Your fight takes place on the “History at the Capitol” bill. What do you feel about appearing on that card, with it being near your home region?
SP – We're working on our fan base, getting a lot of guys to come out and support me. It's close to home so a lot of my family and friends will be in attendance but more importantly I'm looking forward to looking stellar that night and upping my fan base and getting more people behind me to support what I do.
AW – One interested observed will be Britain's Kell Brook. While you won’t be looking past Malignaggi, that fight looms large this summer. What would you say about that?
SP – As far as I know it's the mandatory after this match. Whoever wins this match will be scheduled to fight Kell Brook. Whether that fights happens or not remains to be seen, it's not up to me. It's a fight I welcome. I welcome for Kell Brook to come over here and try to take my title from me but at the same time I'm not looking past Paulie so at this point I wouldn't even care to comment on fighting Kell Brook.
AW – You won the IBF title last December, unseating Devon Alexander. Talk us through that fight?
SP – As far as that, (Alexander was) the more known guy and also the favorite to win that match but I'm kind of oblivious to that stuff. I stay out of the media; I stay out of who say's what. I don't pay attention to that. That was a great night for Team Porter. We had a great game plan. I think from Round 1 we established what we wanted to do and took him out of his game plan and got in our rhythm and stayed in it through 12 rounds. We'll look to do the same thing against Paulie and we look to be stronger against Paulie and at some point knock him out.
Again that was a great night, hand speed was there, power was there; you know, along with winning that match, of course you want to be better the next fight. This fight with Paulie, we look to do a lot of the same things but also be more dominant. We do look to stop Paulie, beat him down if we're not stopping him and look great doing it.
AW – When they announced the decision and you heard those words all challengers like to hear “… And New” what did it mean to you to achieve your life long goal?
SP – It was great and I knew it was coming, so just to finally hear it, finally have that night come in the sport was pure greatness for me, my family, my friends and my team. Nothing more I can say about that.
Definitely a moment I’ll never forget and you're taking me back just thinking about it. It was just really, really great to be in the ring and do what I did that night and have my hand raised.
AW – Did you believe you would beat Devon Alexander as comfortably as you did?
SP – Coming in fight week we were all in tune with one another, we knew that we were going to have a great night. For me it was winning each round, doing what my dad told me to do each round and each round was just about being better and better and winning the fight. I didn't realize, quote-end- quote, that I beat him so comfortably or looked so great doing it until I had watched the match. After I watched the match I said ‘Well, I did a lot better than a lot of people were expecting me to do’ and from that point on it's just a matter of just trying to be better than that last performance. That's what we look to do April 19.
AW – Going into that fight you were a fairly big outsider to win?
SP – I was the underdog going into the match, again that's no problem for me, especially hearing word of mouth that I'm the underdog, it didn't mean anything to me. The only thing that mattered to me was getting in the ring and beating the guy that was across the ring from me. Same thing goes for this one, whether I'm the favorite, underdog, it doesn't matter to me, I still have to get in there and achieve my goal, do what my dad is teaching me to do round for round. That's all that matters to me. Betting and odds all that extra stuff is for the public not for me and my team.
AW – You were a successful amateur, winning national titles. Interestingly, you fought up at middleweight (165 in the amateurs), since turning pro you've dropped initially to 154 and then 147. That is rather unusual. Can you tell us about that and why you decided to make that commitment?
SP – My dad is a great coach, he's a great manager. He knows what he's doing. When we turned pro at 154, it seemed to make sense coming from 165. Once we turned pro at 154 my dad took a look at things and how boxing was moving and thought my success was at 147. We pushed the limits, we did it in a nutritionally great way. We made it and from that point on it was just a matter of figuring out the best way to get down to 147 by maintaining my strength, power and speed, the whole nine and we've been able to do that. This camp has been very comfortable, the weight has been great, it's slowly gradually falling off which is exactly what we want it to do. I did a strength test the other day and lifted 235-pounds over my head, so everything is great. 147 is where I'm at and where I want to be right now.
AW – Do you feel that having fought at 165 and fighting now at 147, that nobody is going to be able to push you around because you're used to fighting bigger guys?
SP – That's our philosophy in our camp, in our team. We always want to be the stronger guy, we always want to prove that and along with that we have the mindset that we're not going to let anyone control us, control the ring when we're fighting. With all that being said, yeah coming down from 165 we know in our heads that we're going to be the strongest guy in the ring that night. We want to expose that every time we get in the ring.
AW – You are trained by your father Kenny. The two of you have a very strong bond. Can you tell us a little about the father-son/trainer-son relationship?
SP – You know what, we've talked about that a lot lately and I'm going to stop trying separate the two or even three because he's my manager as well. They all go hand in hand. I think any father to his son is their coach, is their manager in some aspect of their life. For me, my dad, we have a great relationship. We do everything together. We riding this thing out together, we're making strides as a family. It's a beautiful thing to be in the ring with him, to pray with him, to go throw camps with him, the ups and downs with him and not anyone else. I wouldn't have it any other way.
AW – If we look at the welterweight rankings we have at THE RING, what would you say about each of the fighters ranked…
C – Floyd Mayweather Jr. – Floyd's a great fighter. It's hard not being a fan of his because we're so close to fighting. If I get that chance it'll be a beautiful thing to fight against greatness like that. He's definitely the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time).
1. Manny Pacquiao – Manny looked great. He's still got everything that we know he has, the quickness, the speed, the smarts and I thought he fought a great fight Saturday.
2. Tim Bradley – He didn't really fight the way I thought he would fight against PacMan this past weekend. I thought he'd fight with a lot more heart, strength and power; everything that we've seen in the past. I think Manny did a good job and he really confused him this weekend.
3. Juan Manuel Marquez – He's still working, still doing it, even at his age he proved he can still get in the ring and fight with the big guys. He even put Manny down on the canvas, so again, you've got to give it up to everything he's done and everything he's still doing. It's great. If I get the chance to fight him it's an exciting fight for me, my family and also the fans.
4. Kell Brook – I haven't watched much of Kell. I watched him one time on Youtube. I caught just a few rounds and I mean to be honest with you, I looked at it and I said I would beat him and I cut it off. Not much to talk about but I haven't seen much of him. I couldn't really comment on him in a fair and respectable way so I won’t. I was surprised to hear you say he was number four. I haven't seen the ranking but especially not holding a title he's definitely way too high.
5. Robert Guerrero – I haven't seen him in a while. He was actually fighting at 140 and even 135 and this was before I turned pro, I was a fan of his. I think he has a good boxing style, he's a good fighter. I'd like to see him get back in the ring soon.
6. Shawn Porter – (Laughs) Again, another good exciting fighter. I have it all, with that being said, I think that slowly but surely I’ll go from No. 6 to where I should be, No. 4, ahead of Kell, but it doesn't bother me.
7. Keith Thurman – Keith and I should both be ahead of Kell Brook. Keith is another guy I fought with in the amateurs. We were in two different weight classes so we saw a lot of each other. We had some training camps together. He's good. He's come a long way. His boxing skills have picked up and he's looking really good right now.
8. Paulie Malignaggi – Well, we'll see what Paulie can do against me. Paulie proved he's still got something left and I plan to take it all away from him. If I was to comment on him as a fighter I would say he's a very good fighter and definitely has the accolades of being a two-time champion. He's definitely got what it takes to be ranked right there at No. 8.
9. Marcos Maidana – A tough fighter, those guys down there (Argentina), they're coming up here making some noise. He's a tough fighter. I wish him the best against Floyd.
10. Adrien Broner – Yeah, needs no introduction at all. He proved he has what it takes to become a champion, but I definitely think his success lies at a lower weight, 140, maybe even 135. Whether he can make that weight remains to be seen. His skills are unbelievable, (he's an) athletic fighter.
AW – You and Adrien Broner are both a similar age and from the same state, do you have a close relationship?
SP – We grew up four hours away from each other, in two different cities in the same state. With that being said we've always had a relationship but more of a distance type of relationship so we've always been cool. I wouldn't say we have the greatest friendship because we don't see each other often.
AW – How do you see the Mayweather-Maidana fight going?
SP – I see Mayweather out-boxing Maidana. I see him frustrating Maidana. I see Maidana not being able to hit him the way he hit Adrien Broner and I won’t be surprised by a knockout by Floyd but we've seen that Floyd doesn't really do that anymore. We'll see what happens. I don't think Maidana has what it takes to beat Floyd.
AW – How about Marquez-Alvarado?
SP – I hope both guys use good defense. Mike has shown that he can be a good boxer but he's also showed that his mentality in the ring is more of a slugger and go-get-it fighter. He can’t do that against Juan Manuel. On the other hand we know everything Juan Manuel can do. I think Juan Manuel might win, he might knock Mike out. Mike's one of my buddies so I wish him the best.
AW – What did you think of Bradley-Pacquiao II?
SP – I thought it was a good fight, I thought it was close. I thought maybe the first half of the fight might have been close but I thought Manny really pulled away and showed what he can do.
AW – Going back a few years ago when you were on your way up you were one of the lead sparring partners for a couple of Manny Pacquiao's fights. That must have been a great experience?
SP – It was a great experience. Believe it or not I still think about him when I'm training now because I take myself back to how hard he trained and how hard he worked. Not only that but how much fun he had in camp. We're doing a lot of what Manny did to become as great as he has so hopefully following those footsteps I’ll be in his position soon.
AW – Have you ever trained with Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
SP – Never trained with Floyd. I've been in the gym with him but never trained with him.
AW – Tell us about yourself outside of boxing?
SP – My dad works me really hard so I'm usually always training. When I'm not training I'm trying to rest up. Apart from boxing it's mostly movies and hanging out at home. I'm more of a homebody. If I'm going out I'm usually going to the movies or bowling or playing pool.
AW – In closing do you have a message for Malignaggi ahead of your upcoming fight?
SP – No message for Paulie. I wish him the best. Good luck to him and his team.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright