Spence vs. Porter: The Trainer's Perspective

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Derrick James, trainer of undefeated Errol Spence Jr., and Kenny Porter, father/trainer of Shawn Porter, talk strategy ahead of Saturday night's welterweight world title unification blockbuster on FOX Sports PPV.

Undefeated IBF World Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr. could knock out WBC counterpart Shawn Porter in a manner that would separate him from “the pack at 147 pounds,” says his trainer, Derrick James.

But Porter’s father and trainer, Kenny Porter has vowed that his son’s versatility, relentless aggression and volume punching will discombobulate Spence and lead to victory for Shawn.

Whatever the outcome fireworks are guaranteed when Spence (25-0, 21 KOs) and Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) meet in an anticipated welterweight world title unification clash live on PBC on FOX Sports PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

But before the first punch is thrown, the two lead trainers broke down their strategy in an exclusive PBC Q&A.


Based on their interaction during this promotion, has either fighter gained a mental edge over the other?

Derrick James: Shawn’s a talker trying to get under Errol’s skin. Errol just returned to his point, which was to say, “I’m going to knock you out” instead of going back and forth.

Kenny Porter: Shawn has definitely had an effect on Errol. It struck a chord when Porter challenged Spence’s disappointment that he didn’t knock out Mikey Garcia. Errol had to rethink, sort of stumbling over his words and re-examining how he felt about what he did in the fight.

That’s a verbal metaphor for what Shawn can do physically in the fight on those occasions where Shawn makes Errol react in different ways than he normally would.


What advantages does your fighter have in the ring?

Derrick James: Errol benefits as the more powerful puncher and he’s more technical. Shawn does well on the inside. Against Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman he missed a lot of punches on the inside.

Shawn’s strengths are his fortitude, desire and strong will, but Errol’s a great inside fighter and he’s more accurate. So I think we’ll be able to break him down, take that away and stop him.

Kenny Porter: In Errol’s career, he’s had the right opponents in front of him, guys who can’t move, allowing him to dictate, back them into a corner and beat on them.

What I don’t see is people who’ve offered resistance and movement to get Errol out of his normal way of fighting and forcing him to react and make uncomfortable decisions.


What is gained by examining their mutual opponents, Kell Brook and Phil Lo Greco?  

Derrick James: Shawn did drop Lo Greco, but they went 10 rounds while Errol dismantled him within three. That shows the level of fighter Errol is and the strength that he has.

Shawn lost a decision to Kell Brook, while at the same time Errol went to Brook’s country of England, beat him up, broke his face [fractured orbital bone] and his ribs.

This, once again, demonstrates the difference in Errol’s punching power particularly compared to Shawn Porter’s.

Errol’s not just a good southpaw, but an amazing fighter with skills, defensive savvy, endurance and a will to win.

Kenny Porter: I was right there at ringside for the Spence-Kell Brook fight and thought it was very close at the time of the stoppage. Also, coming off the knockout loss to Gennady Golovkin [at 160 pounds,] that was not the same Kell Brook that fought Shawn.

When Brook fought Shawn, he was holding and had no intention of allowing Shawn to punch him. If we’d have done the same thing fighting in England, we’d have been disqualified. Lo Greco replaced Roberto Garcia on less than a week’s notice after [Garcia] pulled out to fight Errol.

[Co-trainer] Barry Hunter has insights. From time to time he’ll say, “He’ll make a move like this,” and, “Be ready for that." Shawn’s done well with some of the best southpaws in the game going back to the amateurs when he beat [Oleksandr] Usyk, Demetrius Andrade, Danny Jacobs and Fernando Guerrero.


What are your thoughts on Spence’s claims that Porter is a dirty fighter?

Derrick James: There is no other fighter out there with the skillset nor the style of Shawn Porter. Watching the videos, he’s not intentionally trying to do it, but his style is, “If it happens, so what?” Against Andre Berto, it looked intentional, but in others, maybe not.

But it’s not a distraction for us because Errol’s a strong fighter, and, believe me, we know how to handle it.

Kenny Porter: You have to have talent in order to beat the guys we beat. You can’t beat those guys just being a tough guy off the street. That takes skills. So, when I see Errol saying stuff like that I know he’s definitely underestimating us, which is to our advantage.


How does this fight end?

Derrick James: Shawn lost to Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia in close fights. Manny Pacquiao beat Thurman in a close fight, but Errol is serious when he says he’s going to punish Shawn and knock him out.

Errol knocked out Brook, but it’s like people forgot. This is a separation fight clearly distancing Errol from the pack at 147 pounds, demonstrating he’s the elite welterweight champion and No. 1 pound-for-pound. Man down.

Kenny Porter: This has definitely been the best camp Shawn’s had, spiritually, mentally, physically and for us as father and son. I know Shawn has and will do whatever it takes to pull this out in a close decision.

For a closer look at Spence vs Porter, check out our fight night page.

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