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Undercard at Barclays: Porter Upsets Alexander

(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)
(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)

By Daniel Kravetz


Two months ago, Devon Alexander anticipated facing off with popular Brit Amir Khan in a lucrative, high-profile title fight. Instead, he had to settle for a defense against upstart Shawn Porter.

 

If Alexander was not previously bitter about his consolation prize, he sure must be now.

 

Porter (23-0) did not always fight pretty, but he got the job done in his big opportunity. He mauled, shoved, and scraped his way to a major upset of Alexander (25-2), earning the IBF welterweight title and the biggest win of his career.

 

The decision was a close but unanimous one. Judge Julie Lederman scored the fight 115-113, while Waleska Roldan and John Stewart favored Porter a shade more at 116-112.


Porter and his father Kenny, who has trained him through his career, were joyous when the decision was announced. “I paid my dues,” said Porter. “The opportunity was here, and I stepped up to the plate.”

 

Porter’s biggest moments of the fight came in its early stages. In round two, he finished a combination with a left hook that staggered Alexander, and he led off round three with a right hand that turned Alexander’s legs to jelly.

 

Alexander, who had overcome aggressive fighters like Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse, began landing frequent counter hooks and uppercuts in rounds four and five, but they did not deter Porter. The short and compact challenger continued charging forward and pressing Alexander to the ropes.

 

The fight became increasingly messy as it went on. Porter’s aggression became less effective, but he stayed on his front foot, and Alexander never landed the meaningful shot to make him think twice. Porter swept the last two rounds, landing at least one neck-turning punch that he needed to in each round to secure the victory on the scorecards.

 

“I wanted to make the fight a dogfight,” said Porter after the fight. “I wanted to make it as difficult for [Alexander] as possible.”

 

Lara Outclasses Trout

 

With 30 seconds remaining in their fight, Erislandy Lara hit Austin Trout with a crisp, pinpoint jab. Trout dropped his hands and let his shoulders sag for a beat, deflated. The gesture told the whole story.

 

Lara (19-1-2) outclassed Trout (26-2) for 12 rounds for a wide unanimous decision, punctuated by a brutal knockdown on a short left cross towards the end of round 11. One scorecard read 118-109, while two judges scored the bout 117-110. Lara took home the vacant WBA junior middleweight title.

 

The fight was a chess match, and Lara took away Trout’s weapons one by one. Sporting Brooklyn trunks, a tip of the hat of his milieu for the evening, the Cuban snapped his jab more sharply, connected with the more meaningful power punches, and was more elusive from round to round.

 

Lara called it “the Cuban method.”

 

“He was just a slippery fighter,” Trout said after the fight. “I had trouble getting my shots off.”

The fight began slowly, with both fighters posing and feeling each other out. The crowd quickly became restless, and boos began by the second round. But it was Lara who began landing with more frequency, timing Trout with jabs and lead right hooks. In the 4th round, he painted Trout with two hard left crosses, the biggest moments of the fight to that point.

 

Trout responded in round five by applying pressure, but he could not track down Lara with consistency. The fight was largely fought in the center of the ring—Trout is usually happy in the center of the squared circle, and he had his moments in that locale in the middle rounds, but simply not as many as Lara, who patiently picked his shots and picked Trout apart.

 

The cross that Lara landed to drop Trout to his rear in round eleven was picture perfect. Trout rose on shaky legs but was able to continue, and he survived Lara’s follow up volley.

 

At the end of the 12th round, Trout was lifted by his corner and pumped his fist listlessly to the crowd. It was not convincing: even he knew it was Lara’s night.

 

Dirrell, Bika Settle for Draw

 

Anthony Dirrell landed his counter left hook at will. He landed numerous hard left hands, one of which dropped Sakio Bika hard, just the second knockdown in Bika’s long career. Dirrell survived Bika’s aggression, punishing body work, and roughhouse tactics for twelve hard-fought rounds.

 

It was not enough to take Bika’s WBC super middleweight title.

 

In the end, both fighters had to settle for a draw. Judge Glen Feldman’s even scorecard decided the outcome. Joe Pasquale scored the bout 114-112 for Bika, while Don Trella scored it 116-110 for Dirrell.

 

The fight was a high-intensity affair, as Bika applied his trademark pressure and threw punches with ill intention, while Dirrell was often content to pick Bika off with counters. On several occasions, Bika drove Dirrell to the ropes with strong rear hooks to the body and wide hooks upstairs that at times found their way around Dirrell’s guard.

 

Dirrell turned the fight in his favor in the 5th round with the big knockdown, which clearly shook Bika. Dirrell followed the knockdown with a handful of power punches, but Bika survived.

Bika, not one to be deterred easily, made sure that things were not too easy for his young challenger following the big round. The 6th round was the premier round of the bout, a rock ’em sock ’em three minutes in which both fighters had big moments.

 

The fighters traded rounds down the stretch, with Dirrell using counters to keep Bika honest and Bika continuing to wing shots at Dirrell. Bika easily took the 11th, although he was docked a critical point for a low blow, while Dirrell convincingly won the 12th.

 

The punch stats told the final story: the more active Bika landed 170 of 609 punches, while the more accurate Dirrell landed 167 of 477.



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