“Too #blessed to be stressed!! How all my people doin out there on this beautiful Monday??”
These words appeared on Twitter last week and they came from the one and only Shawn “Showtime” Porter, who may well be the smartest man in all of boxing. An impressive talent, Porter suffered his first loss last year when the talented Kell Brook took away his IBF welterweight championship belt by a clean-cut and fair decision. If the defeat brought Porter down, however, it certainly didn’t keep him down. And that arguably showcases why Porter’s as sharp as he is.
In an age where an undefeated record in boxing might be more valuable than striking oil, Porter is smart enough to see through the façade. He realizes, you see, that he just needs to keep winning fights in order to remain relevant. The loss to Brook may have harmed Porter’s chances of ever facing Floyd Mayweather, but that seems to be the only lasting damage the defeat has had on the guy’s career. He’s come back strong, after all. Very strong.
For instance, one got the sense this past summer that Porter was essentially being written off by Al Haymon and the PBC gang. Porter, after all, was scheduled to face fellow Ohio native Adrien Broner with what seemed to be the cards stacked against him. By having to go down in weight in order to accommodate the seemingly more popular Broner, the already lean Porter was put in a position where the chances of him earning his second loss appeared to be rather high.
So much for appearances. Porter took Broner to school for almost the entire bout and now word is out that he’s in line to face rising star Keith Thurman before Christmas. Porter might be the underdog if the fight is signed, but that surely won’t remove the smile from his face.
And that’s the second reason why Porter may be the smartest man in boxing. He realizes you don’t have to showboat in or out of the ring in order to be successful. Porter doesn’t play the part of bad boy because he realizes he doesn’t have to. He fought a bad boy last summer and delivered a high energy clinic. You don’t have to be cool when you’re Shawn Porter. You just have to win.
In this, Porter is like George Foreman and Manny Pacquiao, guys who see no value in behaving in anything other than a friendly and approachable manner. Indeed, a quick look at Porter’s recent Twitter feed speaks volumes about the man.
October 16: “Gotta thank a talented young fighter for a great week of sparring. Good luck ahead & God Bless”
October 11: “If you’re lost, use God to figure it out! Hope everyone had a blessed Sunday!”
October 2: “We battled back in June, but #Ohio always supports #Ohio. Good Luck & God Bless You tomorrow night @AdrienBroner!”
How, this writer asks, does one not like this guy? Unless he’s a complete phony, and there’s no evidence to indicate he is, the man comes across as just being a warm and gracious guy. At least that’s true of Porter out of the ring. Inside the ring is, of course, another matter entirely.
To watch Porter’s bout against Paulie Malignaggi back in 2014 was to witness utter destruction. Porter was so dominant and violent it bordered on disturbing to watch. That’s how impressive he was in the ring. And that’s the thing with guys like Porter, they can bring it when it counts. The fact the man doesn’t have much interest in “taking it” to opponents before or after a fight might, however, explain his general lack of popularity.
You don’t see Porter getting much love on Twitter, after all. Sure, he’s respected, but fans seem more interested in more colorful figures. Thurman, after all, is colorful. Broner, without a doubt, is colorful; even Pacquiao, personable as he is, is colorful. Porter, on the other hand, is more of the Tim Bradley school of public relations. He’s a guy who would rather let his fists and footwork do his talking for him.
Yet this very personality trait may be another indication of intelligence. Broner, as everyone knows, is viewed now as a clown. The same might be said of the flute-playing Thurman, should he chalk up a loss or two. The unassuming Porter, however, is simply able to soldier on after a few pitfalls.
He may not be a fan favorite, but no one’s going to delight over Porter coming up short. Can the same be said of his more colorful peers? The fact is Porter has said nothing to make people want to shut him up. And that’s smart. Even after an impressive performance, one gets the sense people are still a bit tired of Broner. And will continue to be if he actually goes on to fight Ahsley Thephane.
On the other hand, I know of no boxing fan who isn’t interested in learning who Porter will fight next, whether it be Thurman, as Porter clearly hopes it will be, or someone else. The lesson in all of this? Don’t believe the hype: sometimes nice guys actually do finish first. — Sean Crose