“What time is it??” shouted a beaming Shawn Porter (27-2-1, 17KOs) from the podium at the post fight presser.
“Showtime!!!” screamed a confident and voluptuous vixen of an assistant from Porter’s championship- looking entourage seated next to me.
She was not alone in vocal torrents of praise.
Less than an hour earlier, her enthusiasm matched that of courageous former world champion Paul Williams, who was seated ringside and cheering like a kid in Chucky Cheese. In tailor-made garments while bespectacled in superstar sunglasses from combat, former IBF champ Porter, had the look and sound of a WBC/WBA world champion after turning Andre Berto (31-5, 24KOs) into his janitor, spilling him all over the ring in front of 9,118 frenzied fans at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The press too, was impressed, all but goading Porter into offering shade at actual WBC/WBA welterweight champion Keith “One-Time” Thurman. “If I’m standing there as champion and Jim Gray (Showtime sportscaster) asks me if I want a rematch with [Keith Thurman], I wish he would’ve just said ‘yes’,” stated Porter, in response to Thurman’s in-ring appearance following his 9th round destruction of Berto on Showtime.
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This was a savage, punishing affair on a night that saw both the premium cable network and the “sweet science” score KOs as well. Everything about this card was hot– as every card from Showtime/CBS at Barclays Center has been since summer 2016.
By every fair metric, they’ve simply been the standard by which all other cards are measured in the sport, regardless of network or promotional affiliation.
The authentic energy Brooklyn brings to fight events is unlike anything seen anywhere else. Saturday night was no exception.
Amanda Serrano (31-1-1, 23KOs), arguably the greatest female Puerto Rican fighter of all-time, grinded her way to a 5th world title after mugging a drained Dahiana Santana (35-9, 14KOs) in eight rounds.
In capturing the bantamweight title, Serrano has done something perhaps no other woman will ever do. She’s won 5 titles in reverse– by dropping down in weight. This doesn’t really happen in Boxing. She now won lightweight, super featherweight, featherweight, super bantamweight and bantamweight world titles.
We also got a look at a fighter whose career I’ll be following with great interest: 2016 Rio Olympian, Richardson Hitchins (2-0, 1KO). With a game far better suited for the pro’s than amateur, Hitchins continued to flash elements of Roger Mayweather and Ike Quartey. He’s not nearly a finished product, but don’t be surprised if he becomes a future legend from Haiti.
Then, we saw a return to action from a modern day Felix Trinidad in the form of Jermell Charlo, who basically beat the hell out of Charles Hatley (who got ABSOLUTELY KTFO in 6). Charlo looked to be a solid middleweight at super-welter, and one that would make for an intriguing match-up with Daniel Jacobs, who made a guest appearance.
Adding to the theater was the presence of tyrannical welterweight star Errol Spence, who helped prepare Charlo for Hatley. Team Spence firmly believes that Charlo is far superior to Kell Brook (who Spence faces on May 27 in the UK for the IBF belt), and expects to maul Brook in front of his countrymen on Showtime. The network, with its obvious ties to the #1 TV network in CBS, works very well with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions and its publicity affiliates (notably, Swanson Communications).
In a sign that has to be great for all fight fans, I asked Showtime Exec. VP Stephen Espinoza if the dual promotion between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko (under contract with HBO) was an indication that all promoters (.ie Golden Boy, Top Rank and Main Events) and networks could now find a way to make the very best fights, as MMA has done in their sport. In short, his answer was an unequivocal “Yes”. This means even Colin Cowherd, big mouth from The Herd who declared “Boxing is Dead”, would be putting popcorn in the microwave soon for Boxing.
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But this night belonged to Porter, who, at the risk of hyperbole, looked like a welterweight Leon Spinks possessed by Rocky Balboa. Clubber Lang (uh, that would be Andre Berto) didn’t have a chance. Because of an invading style that features a lot of hooks out of a crouched position, Porter invites fan friendly danger and drama. Clashing of heads and elbows resulted in cuts above and around both eyes, but he remained undaunted.
Porter beat up Berto in a lot of ways, but you’d be hard pressed to find what he did to Berto’s body anywhere other than on a movie screen. That is, unless you happened to be inside Lou DiBella’s visionary Barclays Center. A place fast becoming the new Roman Coliseum of Boxing.