Saturday, June 20, 2015

Broner-Porter: Keys to the Fight

Adrien Broner (30-1, 22 KOs) and Shawn Porter (25-1-1, 16 KOs) clash on Saturday night in an intriguing battle at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Featuring two former champions, the fight will take place at a 144-lb. catchweight, a source of controversy in the build-up to the match. As recently at 2013, Broner held a welterweight title and once weighed in at 146.5 lbs. against Paulie Malignaggi. Porter started out his career fighting mostly in the 150s before moving to the welterweight division. The 144 lbs. will his lightest weight since 2011. 

Weight aside, this matchup features two boxer-punchers who can do a variety of things in the ring. In terms of style, Porter has been chameleon-like throughout his career but he has most recently opted to be a pressure fighter. Using his athleticism, especially foot speed, and physicality, he found the right formula to win a title. However, last year he was bettered by the sharpshooter Kell Brook and lost his belt. Broner has bullied people on the inside and also has fought as counterpuncher. His lone loss was a decision to Marcos Maidana in 2013. With his unique combination of pressure, high punch volume and odd-angled shots, Maidana was able to knock Broner down twice.  

On paper, both fighters have the style to give the other one significant difficulties but how will that play out in the ring? Which one will make key adjustments? Who has learned from past missteps? It's a fascinating matchup and one where a strong case could be made for either boxer to prevail. Below will be the keys to the fight. My prediction will be at the end of the article. 

1. The catchweight.

The 144-lb. catchweight for this fight was instituted on Broner's behalf. Since his loss to Maidana, he has campaigned closer to the junior welterweight limit. From Broner's perspective, the hope is that Porter would struggle to take off the last three pounds, leading to lesser effectiveness in the ring. On Friday, Porter made weight on his first attempt. Although that doesn't answer the question of how Porter will look on Saturday, at least we know that he didn't have to burn off three pounds in a sauna after his first attempt to weigh in. He didn't appear gaunt at the weigh in or show any outward signs of struggling to make the catchweight limit.

For all we know, Porter could still have had difficulty making weight. Or, perhaps Porter was fine with 144. He started his pro career fighting at 165.5 lbs. and it's been remarkable that a boxer in his athletic prime can keep coming down in weight. Ultimately, we just don't know how much of a factor Porter's weight will play in the fight but it's certainly a key variable that could help determine its outcome.

There's another reason why the catchweight may have been put into place. Broner has only faced one puncher at welterweight, and he was floored twice. Immediately after the Maidana fight, he dropped down a division. Perhaps his team decided that he was just too small for 147 and/or his chin couldn't take shots from a real welterweight. Brush aside Porter's ability to make weight for a moment, maybe the hopeful negation of his power was the real reason why Broner wanted the catchweight. 

2. Who wins on the inside?

Both Broner and Porter have achieved some of their biggest wins by fighting on the inside. However, they have massively different styles at close range. In the trenches, Broner can incorporate his entire offensive arsenal, including a blistering right uppercut. Here, his combinations often flow seamlessly and he's particularly skilled at parrying shots or using his arms and elbows to negate his opponents' attack. He's also more than willing to take a shot to open up his own opportunities. He'll give his opponent his body while he goes to work on offense. If the action gets too intense, he is very adept at clinching and holding.

Porter likes to bullrush his opponents, using pressure to create angles for his punches. Relying on his fast footwork and physicality, he tries to drive opponents back to the ropes. There, he'll use quick lateral movement to go side-to-side on his opponent, working the left hook to the body and then moving over to throw overhand rights and short right hands to the head. Porter mugs and mauls on the inside but he also does considerable damage with clean blows.

Many have compared Porter's aggression to that of Maidana's. There are some notable similarities. They both can be relentless on attack and use pressure to back their opponents to the ropes. Porter is the faster of the two in closing the distance on the inside but Maidana throws more unconventional punches. It's this last distinction where the comparison breaks down. Maidana shoots some right hands from the other end of the arena as well as uppercuts from the floor. Opponents often don't anticipate these shots. Porter's movements and attack are more traditional. He's quick but he doesn't have Maidana's improvisational gifts. Broner will have plenty of opportunities to counter and trade on the inside. 

Both fighters could find glory or dismay on the inside. Porter could certainly outwork Broner and wear him down. However, Porter's sometimes reckless aggression will leave him open for whichever clean punches that Broner wants to land. It's a toss-up as to which one will prevail in close quarters but the winner on the inside will most likely hear his name called at the end of the fight. 

3. Broner's sharpshooting.

In Porter's only loss as a pro, he was stymied by Kell Brook's clean counterpunching. With counter jabs, left hooks and right hands, Brook maintained his poise at close range and landed enough big shots to win on the scorecards. Although Broner doesn't have Brook's reach, he certainly has his array of offensive weapons. Much will depend on how accurate Broner is in the ring. If he's on, he can frustrate Porter with well-timed counters and hit him with flashy shots.

If Broner can't consistently time Porter of if he loses his cool in response to Porter's pressure, he will have a much harder time in pulling out the win. Broner possesses the talent and skills to land cleanly on Porter on the inside but the question is one of execution. We've seen Broner sleepwalk through portions of fights before and if he's not sharp with his counterattack, he will find himself in an uphill battle to victory. 

4. Porter's motor. 

One way to beat Broner is to outwork him. Broner has never fought three minutes a round and likes to engage at his own leisurely pace. Maidana's high work rate and pressure made Broner fight at a much faster clip than he was used to, which led to mistakes. But it's not just Maidana; Broner has been outworked by a number of opponents during parts of his fights. 

At his best, Porter beats down opponents with aggression and pressure. However, he has fallen into mid-round lulls against Devon Alexander and Brook. He likes to start off with a flurry and can close strong but there are gaps in his work rate. In addition, he'll often get too wild and spend more time grappling and mauling instead of landing clean blows. Porter must keep his work rate up and maintain pressure throughout the fight; however, he needs to control his aggression somewhat to ensure that he actually wins rounds. In short, he needs to make sure that his aggression is effective. Porter's physicality will only work on Saturday if it leads to clean punching. If not, much of his effort will be wasted. 

5. Power. 

Let's ignore the statistics here. Broner has a 69% KO rate and Porter is at 59%, both good numbers. However, Porter has knocked out only one world-level opponent (Malignaggi) and Broner has yet to score a KO at 140 or above. I'm not dismissing either fighter's power but I don't think of either as a true knockout artist. 

However, they both can land sharp, damaging punches. Porter can be merciless to the body and really digs in with his left hook and straight right hand. Broner features very creative combinations. Often, his third or fourth punch in a combination will be the most destructive one of a sequence. He can hurt fighters with his right uppercut, left hook or short right hand. 

For this fight, the question most likely won't be who will score the knockout but whose power will dictate the action of the fight. Will Broner's combinations on the inside be enough to stop Porter from rushing in? Will Porter's body work force Broner to try to win by boxing on the outside? And, how long will it take to make these adjustments? Saturday's power battle will determine how the fight plays out in the ring. If neither can be hurt by the other guy's best shots, we might be in for a fun phone booth war. 


I think that the outcome of the fight will be determined by which boxer can consistently land the cleaner punches on the inside. I see this bout as very evenly-matched but I side with Broner here. I believe that he has the necessary tools and the type of wide offensive arsenal to squeak out a decision over Porter. 

If the fight gets choppy in the inside, Broner's more than comfortable grappling and holding. But Broner must be careful in close quarters; he will have to tie up if he gets stuck on the ropes, the one area of the ring where Porter has a clear advantage.

As they did in the Porter-Brook fight, the judges will have to watch the action closely to determine which punches actually land and which ones are legitimate, scoring shots. Porter will maul away on Broner's arms and shoulders but I think that the cleaner punches will come from Broner's counterpunching. I expect this to be a close bout with several potential swing rounds. Ultimately, the more eye-catching shots will come from Broner in a seven-rounds-to-five type of fight. 

Adrien Broner defeats Shawn Porter by split decision. 

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
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