12 Rounds With … Shawn Porter

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Shawn Porter is a well-rounded guy outside of the ring, but the former 147-pound world champion is also one of boxing’s most dedicated individuals inside of it.

Shawn Porter

Shawn Porter won a 147-pound world title by beating Devon Alexander in December 2013, and he successfully defended it against Paulie Malignaggi before losing to Kell Brook in August 2014. (Ryan Greene/Premier Boxing Champions)

While he stays in top condition year-round, his focus and skills are at their peak as he enters the final stages of a grueling training camp—and this one is no different.

Shawn Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) is preparing to face fellow former champ Andre Berto (31-4, 24 KOs) in a 147-pound title eliminator on April 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (Showtime, 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT), with the winner having the inside track to face unified world titleholder Keith Thurman.

Getting that fight means more to Porter than any other in the 147-pound title picture, as he lost a narrow unanimous decision to Thurman in Brooklyn last June (115-113 on all three scorecards) and has wanted to avenge it ever since.

Porter, a 29-year-old Akron, Ohio, native who now lives in Las Vegas, recently took a timeout from his training regimen to dive deeper into the significance of a second shot at Thurman, and elaborate on some of his interests when the gloves come off.

You lost a close decision last year to Keith Thurman, who has gone on to become a unified 147-pound world champion. Does him having two belts make you want that rematch even more than you did before?

The fact that he beat Danny Garcia [in March] says even more about him as an athlete and a boxer. So getting back into the ring with him again would be even better now.

People were already looking forward to the first fight—we gave them everything they wanted, and now they want it again. All the way around, the excitement that came from that fight really got me fired up anyway, so I’d say I want the rematch more than ever now.

Thurman now holds both the WBA and WBC titles. You have said before that winning the WBC belt is one of your biggest goals in boxing. Why is that?

You talk about the lineage that the WBC belt has wrapped around it—all the greats have held this belt. From Muhammad Ali to Sugar Ray Leonard and even Floyd Mayweather, to speak more recently. To be in that category of history I think is extremely special, and I want it.

Your fight coming up on April 22 with Andre Berto, there isn’t a title on the line, but does it feel like there is even more at stake here than in some of your title fights?

It does. This is an eliminator for the WBC title, and to me, that’s special. I never really imagined myself being a part of that. Whoever wins this fight will be fighting for the title that I want. And I can’t say enough about it.

I have to win this fight. And I've told people before, even back to my debut, that every fight has meant something. I’ve had to win every fight. I never want to lose. But this fight coming up on April 22 will probably be one of the more special moments in my career so far.

You can have your dream fight against any fighter in history. Who would it be against?

I know I’m not even in the same weight class that he was, but Muhammad Ali. I would love to have sparred with Muhammad Ali, if not fight him. To me, in my mind thinking about it, that would be a very special moment.

Closer to my weight class, probably Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He is my favorite fighter of all time. I’d love to test my will, test what I really have. I’ve tested myself, but Marvelous Marvin would have been the ultimate test.

I've told people before, even back to my debut, that every fight has meant something. ... But this fight coming up on April 22 will probably be one of the more special moments in my career so far. Shawn Porter, on fighting Andre Berto in a 147-pound title unification

In the welterweight division, who’s in the Top 5 right now?

I’ll say Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Kell Brook, Danny Garcia and Errol Spence Jr.

Do you remember a fight or a moment growing up that made you fall in love with boxing?

I watched [a recording of the 1987 fight between] Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard when I was younger. And to see what they did, even at a young age, I knew watching them, I said “I’m gonna do that someday.” That was the moment when I saw being a pro fighter as something cool and something I wanted to do.

You’ve lived and trained full time in Las Vegas for about three years now. What’s your favorite part of fighting out of Vegas?

I’d probably say the access to boxing. Most of the big-name fights and fighters, they come through here at some point. There’s always something going on as far as boxing out here.

I’m right by California, too, and there are lots of big fights I can go to there, as well. Vegas is perfect for me.

What’s your least favorite part of Las Vegas?

I’d say the heat in the summer. I’m different than most people. I love the rain, and it doesn’t rain here. So I’d say the weather.

Where do you see yourself, say, 15 years from now in your post-boxing life?

I will be having fun, commentating fights on TV, but also lifting up other fighters with pointers and tips, and lifting up the sport of boxing in my communities and hopefully worldwide, as well.

You’re a big movie buff, but you’ve said you’re not big on boxing movies. Still, what would be your favorite boxing movie?

One that not many people know about is Price of Glory (2000). It’s about a family of Hispanic fighters—the dad trains the sons, and you see them all go through something personally that affects their boxing lives.

It’s a special movie. I don’t say that just because I come from a boxing family and it’s a boxing movie. It revolves around boxing, but teaches you life lessons as well, and it really flew under the radar.

How about the most unrealistic boxing movie you’ve ever watched?

Rocky IV, when he fought the Russian. People take punishment in boxing, but you can’t take that much punishment.

You also do a lot of karaoke. What’s your go-to karaoke track?

“Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson. I absolutely love Michael Jackson and have developed a pretty good impersonation of him from the vocal aspect, but I still can’t move like him.

If you could go back in your career and redo one moment, what would it be?

The fight with Keith Thurman. I’d keep my hands up a little bit more, protect myself better defensively. I think I did everything I could to win the fight, but you always feel like there’s a little bit more you could have done.

We call it “emptying the tank.” I really did feel like I emptied the tank, but if I had it to do over, I’d empty it even more. I’d make sure I was on zero at the end.

“12 Rounds With …” is published Wednesdays at PremierBoxingChampions.com. Next week: former 147-pound world champion Andre Berto.

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