CARSON, CALIFORNIA–In a fight marred by countless clinches and little clean punching, Kell Brook defeated Shawn Porter by scores of 117-111, 116-112, 114-114 Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The bout capped off perhaps the first card at the Stubhub Center – previously the Home Depot Center – that failed to produce noteworthy action.
Porter appeared to have the edge in a closely-contested first round before getting clipped by a right hand during the waning seconds that left him on shaky legs. The next five rounds followed a similar pattern: Porter would bulldoze his way inside and attempt to swamp Brook with activity, but Brook showcased enough strength and know-how in the clinches to blunt the attack. While the 26-year-old from Akron, Ohio had success ripping Brook to the body on occasion, he too often smothered his own work. Meanwhile, Brook flashed a strong lead jab that Porter had trouble navigating around, stood Porter up with his textbook counter jab, and periodically landed damaging right hands. The clinching became tiresome to watch, but there were enough exchanges to make the action intriguing.
The same can’t be said about the second half of the fight. Hugging and waltzing replaced anything that threatened to make for a memorable boxing match, and each round began to look like the previous. Porter’s dogged work on the inside faded while Brook’s jab lost its accuracy. The rounds were tough to score because between the incessant clinching that referee Pat Russell couldn’t be bothered to address, not much was happening. Surprisingly, Brook was the aggressor for long stretches, which perhaps allowed him to sustain the impression he made on the judges during his strong opening rounds. The scorecards, though divergent, were all equally legitimate. One could make the case that 117-111 is a bit wide, but that person would be burdened with the task of marking four clear Porter rounds in an affair that probably doesn’t deserve that type of lingering thought.
While it was far from a spectacular performance, the 28-year-old Brook remains an intriguing talent with an abundance of options at welterweight. Attempts at matching him with Devon Alexander have thus far resembled plot points in the movie Final Destination, but fights with Keith Thurman or UK rival Amir Khan would promise fireworks. Brook is an aesthetically-pleasing boxer when given space to operate, and, as he showed both Saturday night and in his first bout with bruiser Carson Jones, he responds well to adversity.
Meanwhile, though Showtime is fond of him, Porter has a difficult style to fight or watch, and he may be hard-pressed to attract matchups with the best in his division. Polishing his offense into something more than lunging attacks and mauling would go a long ways towards regaining a trinket, along with any fans that were put off by Saturday’s tedious dance.