This weekend, Showtime Championship Boxing presented a triple header live from California’s StubHub Center. In the main event, Kell Brook upset Shawn Porter to claim the IBF Welterweight title and end Porter’s undefeated streak. How did all of the main card fighters perform last night? Let’s take a look in this Sunday Morning Report Card.
Brook came in an undefeated fighter and he walked out an undefeated fighter. But what was really impressive was that he took a huge step up in competition here, fighting a fight where he was clearly meant to be a tough, but beatable challenger on Porter’s path to superstar status. Instead, Brook flipped the script, coming in with a great gameplan and executing very well. Post-fight, there have been some complaints about Brook being too clinch-focused, and it’s true that there was a lot of clinching, but Porter’s style somewhat forced his hand. This was the kind of big win Brook supporters have been looking for for quite some time, and now puts him in line for even bigger things, like a maor all-UK showdown with Amir Khan. Grade: A
The first loss of Porter’s career could be a career defining one. Porter committed one of boxing’s unpardonable sins here – he failed to adjust. He had his gameplan in place – to get inside and rough Brook up. Trouble was, Brook had him well scouted and kept landing clean shots on the entry. Rather then adjust to a plan B, Porter seemed to freeze up, either going again and again to what was not working well enough, or going through periods of surprising inactivity. This has the danger of being one of those fights that sets the blueprint for future Porter opponents to follow. Time will tell, but this is clearly a massive stumbling block for the previously red hot Porter. Grade: C-
Dirrell’s rematch with Sakio Bika was ugly. Real ugly. About 30 seconds in, the two men were already on the mat – a pattern that would keep up throughout the fight. Neither man looked particularly good, but at least Dirrell was able to get something going in the small sections when an actual boxing match was taking place. His postfight celebration was a highlight; he worked incredibly hard to become a champion, and that very real display of emotion was well-earned – it’s just a shame it had to come at the end of a fight like this. Grade: B-
Bika is often a dirty fighter, but the ugliness here was not entirely his fault. That said, Bika looked pretty bad here, winging wild punches and generally being completely ineffective. A terrible performance from the heavily travelled 35 year old – the kind that will have people questioning his future in the sport. Grade: D-
It’s usually a bad sign when you are even talking about the referee the next day, but given the way Bika and Dirrell fought, referee Jack Reiss gaining some attention was inevitable. The two men engaged in a wild, sloppy affair, but Reiss did a terrific job keeping them in line (though the Showtime crew was surprisingly harsh towards his work). It’s an obvious counterpoint, but when you look at Reiss here as compared to Vic Drakulich’s terrible outing in Brandon Rios vs. Diego Chaves, you see what good refreeing is all about. Grade: A
He may have some defensive flaws, and those flaws may have let him get tagged at times, but Figueroa continues to be a tremendously entertaining and effective fighter. The few moments where he got in some trouble against Daniel Estrada, he came back hard, throwing combinations to push the challenger back. Perhaps his best moment was the ending of the fight, when Figueroa was cut and, rather then let the fight be stopped that way and leave things in the hands of the judges, he came out blasting and put Estrada away. This may not have been the epic war we saw last year against Nihito Arakawa, but it was another super entertaining and impressive Figueroa win. Now just tighten up that defense! Grade: A-
Yes, he lost, but he looked good for much of the Figueroa fight, refusing to be overwhelmed, and staying in the fight. This was Estrada’s first time stepping out of the Mexican fight scene, and he acquitted himself well. No doubt he’ll be back. Grade: B
This was a tough night of fights to judge. For a variety of reasons, each fight presented a judging challenge, stylistically. Yet the right man won every time. The spread between Figueroa and Estrada may have been too wide at the time of the stoppage, but that’s the only complaint, and for boxing judges on a night like that, that’s a win. Grade: A-
What do you think readers? What did I get right, and what do you think is way off base?
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