“Just A Simple Kid”: Interview with Shawn Porter

Shawn Porter got the attention of the boxing world in a big way this past December when he put on a rousing performance and scored a major upset, dethroning IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander with an emphatic decision victory. Count me as one of the many who were impressed by the undefeated Porter’s energy and will to win. He made one of the best welterweights in the world look almost ordinary as he took control of the contest from the beginning and never stopped attacking, dictating the flow and pace of the bout as he tore in and scored with both hands. When the judges’ decision was announced, Porter celebrated with his father and trainer, Kenny Porter.

Shawn Porter is obviously a very proud young man but I would like to report he also has a great head on his shoulders. We should be pleased to have a champion who is confident without being arrogant, hard-working and has a respect for both the game of boxing and others that make him a breath of fresh air in a boxing world filled with ego-maniacs and big-talking divas.

Porter clearly got the better of Devon.

Shawn has been a rising star in boxing for some time, Porter has catapulted right into the mix of the best fighters in the talent-packed welterweight division. When examining his pedigree, his current success makes a lot of sense. Like present 140 lb. champ Ruslan Provodnikov, Porter had the unparalleled experience of serving as Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partner and also had an amazing run as an amateur with no fewer than 276 wins and a number of titles and championships. There’s no question that he has all the talent required to be a major player in boxing for years to come.

Time to learn more about Cleveland’s own “Showtime” Shawn Porter:

So, first off, very important question: how about that Josh Gordon on the Browns?

Very good football player! I’m proud of the things he’s done this season. I’ve heard talks of trades but I hope he sticks around for a while and is a part of the progression the Browns are going to make … eventually!

You’ve burst onto the scene as a force to be reckoned with, and a lot of people, including my dad by the way, are very impressed by both your boxing skills and your well-spoken manner. Can you provide people with a little background on yourself and where you come from?

I’m just a simple kid trying to use my gifts to the best of my abilities. Win some big fights. Dazzle crowds. And more than anything be a reflection of what God wants us all to be. Born and raised in Northeast Ohio. Trained by my father Ken. Boxing and football was my life until my senior year of high school. At that point I decided to stick with boxing. And now I’m just a simple IBF World Champ, staying focused, humble, and hungry.

What do you love most about being a boxer?

I’ve been fortunate and blessed to travel the world, have amazing experiences, and build great relationships. I love the travel, relationships I’ve developed over the years. And also I love performing in front of thousands of fight fans!!

We all know that the training grind for a boxer is extremely tough. What drives you to work hard everyday?

My dad! You know, it’s just what I’ve always done. There’s an unspoken goal to reach everyday: work hard and push it to the limit. And improve. So with that mutual understanding between my dad and I, it’s not hard to give it my all. And winning makes it all worth it!

Porter with Manny Pacquiao.
Porter with Manny Pacquiao.

What makes you unique in the the sport of boxing?

I’m unique because I’m versatile. There’s a lot of different dimensions and abilities that I have that makes any match with me interesting and exciting, and makes me hard to beat.

What was it like sparring with Manny Pacquiao? In real life is he the warm, down-to-earth guy he appears to be?

It was incredible sparring with Manny and he is an absolute gentleman as well. He showed us how to prepare at an elite level and how a champion should conduct himself outside of the ring.

In terms of his ring craft, what impressed you most about Manny? His power? Speed? Defense? Any fun stories from when you sparred with him?

Manny is a very well-rounded fighter. Great speed, obviously the great power and his defense is amazing as well. I remember, the first time I met Manny was actually on the first day of sparring, right before we went in the ring. So Freddie Roach said, “This is Shawn Porter, your sparring partner.” And to be honest, I was a bit star-struck. But then the second that bell rang, I was back in my zone.

Heading into the match with Alexander, how confident were you?

Fully confident. No one on my team had any doubts about the outcome. I trained the whole year for that one opportunity! And the rematch with Diaz before the Alexander fight reassured us that everything was in place to take on that challenge.

What was the game-plan for the biggest fight of your career?

I wanted to be aggressive and make him fight my fight. I was surprised he fell into it so easily. Other than that, it all went 100% how I prepared for it to go, and of course how I wanted it to go. I proved a lot to myself in that fight, though I’ve grown in every fight, learning and improving mentally. While I’m blessed with athletic talent, I think it’s important that I continue to focus on the mental aspect of my craft, and keep progressing in that area.

Porter defeats Phil LoGreco.
Porter defeats Phil LoGreco.

I have been hearing a lot of comparisons between you and Timothy Bradley, especially the way you both fought Alexander. From what you know of Bradley’s style, would you say you are similar, or a different fighter?

Well, we’re both aggressive fighters. A lot of speed. And we both have great coaches. I think I may have more power than Bradley.

Who would you like to fight next?

I don’t know what’s going on yet. I’m letting my adviser Al Haymon and my manager Kenny Porter handle that. I’m enjoying the holidays right now and trying to be 26-years-old for another week or so and then I’ll be back at the grind and all the hard work.

I’m sure Mayweather is in your sights for a fight at some point. What would you do differently than Canelo or Guerrero to have more success?

I would use what I have. Quickness. Speed. Power. Endurance. Intelligence. And most important I’ll be prepared mentally to make adjustments and stayed focused for all twelve rounds.

What did you think of the Maidana’s big win over Broner?

Maidana did what he was supposed to do. Broner didn’t. Simple as that.

If you could say one thing to boxing fans everywhere, what would it be?

I’m extremely grateful for your love, your respect, and your support for what I’ve done so far. I will continue to work hard, stay focused, and perform at the highest level. Hopefully I can help motivate and encourage everyone to do the same in whatever they’re involved in. Follow me on Twitter @ShowtimeShawnP and God bless you all!

— Ryan Franco

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