There’s far more than 200-some-odd miles of Interstate 71 between Akron, Ohio, and Cincinnati that separate Shawn Porter and Adrien Broner.
Brash and flash, Broner is the spiritual heir of fighters like Jack Johnson and Hector "Macho” Camacho, with a big mouth and an even bigger appetite for fame, money and prestige. Porter falls on the other spectrum of boxing archetypes, much in the way of Floyd Patterson and Manny Pacquiao: as soft-spoken and humble outside the ring as he is ferocious inside it.
Adrien Broner’s swagger is manifest when he does things like showing up late to a press conference, claiming he needed to pick up a new Gucci shirt first. But the true difference between the two fighters is revealed in Shawn Porter’s unwillingness to engage with Broner’s world-class trolling attempts.
“That’s the part that I don’t really pay attention to,” Porter said. “I pay attention to the fighter. He’s very skillful, very talented. He’s been doing this for a long time. I think the [sparring] I got with [140-pound contender] Hank Lundy, with the quick counters he was able to throw, the off-balance shots, everything he presented in the ring is a lot of what I’ll be seeing in the fight against Broner. That’s what I pay attention to, what he can do in the ring.”
What Broner is capable of in the ring come Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, airing live on NBC at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT, is readily apparent. Although they hail from different parts of Ohio, Akron native Porter had to spend quite a bit of time around Cincinnati as an amateur in order to secure the best competition. Broner was fighting in lighter divisions, but the two are familiar with each other from those years.
And what Porter saw wasn’t anything surprising or unfamiliar.
“I have an understanding of Broner and what he has,” Porter said. “I’m from the same state as Broner, so I’ve seen all those guys. I’ve seen that style a million times. I know what it is. I know the speed. I know the quickness. I know that jazzy style he has. All the way around Ohio we’re known for being fast, we’re known for not stopping and we’re known for having somewhat of a finesse style. The great part of it is, I’ve seen it all around the world. I’ve taken a little bit from everybody, so it won’t be anything new to me.”
Not only did Porter, 27, get an up-close-and-personal look at a developing Broner early on, but he has seen the man Broner, 25, has become in the ring. When Broner took on John Molina Jr. at the MGM on March 7, he controlled the action for 12 rounds.
From the get-go, it was apparent that Broner’s speed and footwork stymied Molina’s efforts to get in close and land his best weapon, a heavy right. That fight, though, gave Porter ample opportunity to scout out his Buckeye counterpart up close.
“Molina, even though he saw [Broner’s style] and was preparing for it, once he got in the ring, it was foreign to him,” Porter said. “It’s not foreign to me. Someone with fast hands with a quick, fast jab, I’ll figure it out and I’ll get around it. Molina just didn’t do enough. He wasn’t able to do enough. Me and Molina are very different. My feet are quicker and my hands are quicker. I can do what it takes to keep a guy off-balance and not get into his rhythm. That’s exactly what Molina didn't do. He let Broner get settled in, and I’m not going to do that.”
One way Porter can stop Broner from getting into a rhythm is by using his natural size advantage. Porter is listed as being the slightly taller fighter at 5 feet 7 inches, but he’s a bigger physical presence, spending more time at 147 pounds than Broner, although the two will be fighting Saturday at a catchweight of 144 pounds.
The other way Porter can stop Broner? Well, let’s just say that anyone who watched Porter tear into Erick Bone on March 13 saw a very different type of fighter than the balletic, elusive technician that Broner was against Molina.
“I’ve always been bigger than him,” Porter said. “A lot of people are looking at that to play a major factor in this fight. I’m looking at it to play its role, but I’m not looking to come in there and say ‘Oh I’m bigger than you. I’m going to wear you down, I’m going to knock you out.’ When it’s time to lay on him, when it’s time to get physical, that’s when it will show up. It has to be rough. That’s the only way to get him uncomfortable.”
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