Shawn Porter: Fight vs. Manny Pacquiao would be ‘tremendous, action-packed’
Though Shawn Porter has known the Headbangers Gym crew for a number of years, he’d never before set up training camp in Washington D.C. That is, until this camp, as he prepares for his first title defense against Yordenis Ugas on March 9 at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Kenny Porter, the father/trainer of the WBC welterweight titleholder, picked the nation’s capital as their spot to get in fighting shape. There, where Barry Hunter trains his stable, he’s learned to
“I’ve known Barry for a long time and I’ve watched him from a distance prepare a lot of champions and this is my first opportunity to be in camp down here. I don’t know when was the last time that I’ve been in camp and been excited to be part of a camp,” said Porter (29-2-1, 17 knockouts).
Typically, Porter will bring in 2-3 fighters to work with and then change them out as camp progresses, but the 31-year-old from Akron, Ohio has been enjoying the “camaraderie and team spirit” with the deep roster of talent he has in-house. He also has high praise for the work ethic of the Peterson brothers, Lamont and Anthony, who have their own twin-bill card on March 24 in Maryland, whom he says are two of the hardest working fighters he has ever seen.
“Lamont Peterson is giving me some good work along with a few other guys that Barry has wrapped together for this camp,” said Porter.
Against Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs), his mandatory challenger, Porter knows expectations are that he’ll retain the belt. But Porter isn’t sleeping on the Cuban as he returns to the site of his first defeat five years ago, when he lost the IBF welterweight belt in his first defense.
Ugas, 32, has not been extraordinary, but he’s run off eight straight wins against respectable opposition since returning from a two year layoff in 2016, including a shutout win over Cesar Miguel Barrionuevo last September on the same card in Brooklyn that Porter outpointed Danny Garcia to win the belt.
“I expect him to be consistently aggressive, I expect him to try to come at me hard like I’ve seen him go at guys in his past previous fights. And I expect it to be a hard fight, I don’t expect to hit Yordenis one time and then go down, he’s not that kind of fighter,” said Porter.
Ugas is rated no. 8 by The Ring, four spots below Porter, who feels he needs a strong performance to stand out among a division rich with talent but lacking in a clear frontrunner.
“A lot of people expect this to be a wash for me. I’m expecting it’s going to be a hard fight,” said Porter.
“Errol Spence, Mikey Garcia, Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman, I want to show all those guys that there aren’t any holes in my game, and any holes they thought I had, I don’t want those to be seen when I fight Yordenis Ugas.”
Porter is rated a spot ahead of Premier Boxing Champions’ newest addition to the division, Pacquiao. Unlike the three fighters rated ahead of him, Porter has been in the ring with Pacquiao, albeit not in an official fight but in two tours as a sparring partner back in 2009 and 2011 before Pacquiao’s fights against Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley, respectively.
Even during those days as a prospect, Porter says he was taking notes to see how he’d do against a top fighter like Pacquiao in a fight that counted.
“That’s the number one thing you should do as a competitor, whoever you’re in the ring with, you’ve got to measure up with whoever is across from you. Time and time again, whether it was two rounds, four rounds, however many rounds I was going with Manny, I was always in there, not only giving him my best but also answering those questions like, ‘yeah I think I got what it takes,’” said Porter.
“I’m glad to see him on the PBC stable with us because as long as he’s gonna continue fighting, I don’t think there’s any better stable to be around and measure up with and fight against.”
Even at 40, Porter feels Pacquiao had shown he still belonged among the top fighters after handling Adrien Broner a month ago, winning a unanimous decision in Las Vegas. What Pacquiao doesn’t have in youth, he most certainly makes up for in star power, which Porter feels is Pacquiao’s biggest contribution at 147.
“No matter who Manny gets in the ring with, there’s gonna be a certain level of energy and charisma built around the fight that it’s gonna be undeniable,” said Porter.
Porter agrees with Showtime commentator Steve Farhood’s assessment in a forthcoming issue of The Ring magazine where he speaks of how action-packed a fight between Pacquiao and Porter would be because of their aggressive approaches.
“I think that Steve is seeing that Manny’s style and my style are very exciting styles, and the contrast in the ring against myself and Manny would just be a tremendous, action-packed fight from beginning to end and that’s what people want to see,” said Porter.
“I’m just fortunate to have the kind of style that I have and the kind of presence and nature that I have in the ring that can perform against someone like Manny. Not many fighters can do it but I know I can and I’m excited to be able to do it.”
Porter vs. Ugas will headline a PBC on Fox card, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and can be reached at [email protected].