Shawn Porter is from Akron, Ohio. He’s a Cavs fan. And he’s been doing his best to make sure the greatest Cavalier of all time—LeBron James—is sitting ringside Saturday night for the biggest fight of his life.
“I shot the text out to him. I’m not playing around,” says the WBC welterweight champion. “He should be there.”
James has been seen ringside in the past, most notably for Mayweather-McGregor in 2017. And if the King’s schedule is clear and he takes Porter up on the invitation, he’ll be treated to one of the most anticipated fights of 2019 that will have major ramifications in boxing’s best and deepest division.
Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) is set to square up with IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (25-0, 21 KOs), one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters following the Floyd Mayweather formula of superstardom. Their unification match (9 p.m. ET, FOX PPV) will elevate the winner to top dog in the division and ideally set up a showdown with Manny Pacquiao in early 2020 for his WBA titles. Porter is the underdog in this one thanks Spence’s superb boxing skills and to his decided size advantage—Spence is two inches taller than Porter with a 2.5-inch longer reach. But Porter is known for his heart, ultra-aggressiveness, and showed off some new looks last time out in a split decision victory over Yordenis Ugas. So expect more of the unexpected from Porter because that’s probably what it’s going to take to take down the revered Spence.
“You’re always going to be in for a surprise when I’m in the ring and whoever is in the ring against me is in for the fight of their life,” says Porter.
A week before the bout, we caught up with Porter to talk about why you should throw money on him if you’re a betting man, what he respects most about Spence, and why he has just as much to lose as his undefeated opponent.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
You have said one of your goals for this fight is to make Errol Spence “uncool” outside the ring. So how do you do that?
I think my power. My aggression will take care of that. I don’t think he’s seen anyone who can come the way I come. I think that’s really the game plan in terms of getting him uncomfortable.
Because the public has made him to be basically an unbeatable, perfect, fighter, you stand to lose more when those things are put in front of you.
What have you seen looking into Errol’s eyes promoting this fight?
I think he wants to be the one. He wants to be the only champion out there. I think he feels the way every fighter will. Not only does he feel this way, I think he takes it personal that it’s me in his way. I think he gets bothered when he sees interviews that I do, things that I say. And I think it will work to my advantage in the ring.
What does he see when he looks into your eyes?
I hope he sees that I’m not going to stop. I hope that he sees that I mean business and that I’m for real.
Your experience in the ring gives you a distinct advantage. What specifically about your experience gives you the advantage?
I think that not only have I been 12 rounds multiple times against some really tough guys out there, I think when you’re able to make it through those obstacles, those adversities, those challenges, you’re able to prove things to yourself but you learn things along the way. I think there’s some learning that he hasn’t learned.
Your aggressiveness has been one of your signatures over the years, but do you have to be careful in this one because of the size difference?
I don’t think it’s necessarily about being extra careful. It’s about being smart and doing the right things at the right time. I honestly believe southpaws pull the best out of me. When you face a southpaw that forces you to think a little more and be prepared to make the small adjustments and not necessarily be cautious, but you slow down or be more aware.
Why do you think you so hard to prepare for?
There’s a combination coming from me that I think you really can’t duplicate. It’s hard to find. Nobody has my size along with my strength, along with my quickness, along with my experience. The combination that I have is really rare. I think that’s what makes it hard for guys to prepare for me. And you never know what I’m going to do. That makes it even more challenging when you don’t know what I’m going to do. You can spar with five different guys that possess the traits that I have, but which one of those traits are going to show up and at which moment are they going to show up in the ring. Are you going to be prepared at that moment to make that adjustment? It’s about having boxer’s eyes. Even though Errol Spence clearly has boxer’s eyes, I think that he hasn’t seen this boxer. I just think that’s the difference.
One of the more popular narratives in this one is that Errol has a lot to lose. But you have a lot at stake.
Honestly, at the end of the day we both do. Every fight is supposed to be a step up. Every fight is supposed to be the next best fight for you. Every fight everything is on the line: your family, your reputation, your record, the opportunity to make more money, the opportunity to make more fans. The list goes on from there. Where he has more to lose than me is what the public has made him to be. Because the public has made him to be basically an unbeatable, perfect, fighter, you stand to lose more when those things are put in front of you.
I know you’ve said you don’t look at the betting odds, but I’m pretty sure you know you’re the underdog in this one.
I’ve read a little about it. It’s my pleasure to be the underdog. That’s what I’m used to being.
So why should someone throw money on you in this fight?
Well, you put money on me if you believe in me. You put money on me if you understand who I am and what I’ve done at this point in my career. At this point in my career, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. You’re always going to be in for a surprise when I’m in the ring and whoever is in the ring against me is in for the fight of their life.
What do you respect most about Errol?
His spirit for fighting. His love for the fight game. I get it, I love it, I understand it, I appreciate it.
What should he respect most about you?
Oh, the same. This is the first time he’s getting in the ring with a fighter like him. He should appreciate the competition that’s coming his way. I don’t think there’s anyone else he’s going to get in the ring with him—maybe Terrance Crawford, maybe Manny Pacquiao, other than that, there’s nobody that’s going to treat him like he’s just another fighter.
You seem extra feisty promoting this fight. Why?
I think there’s two things going on. No. 1, understanding what this fight means. You have to take this opportunity seriously. And also, the fact that this fight is on FOX pay-per-view. This is my first time being on FOX pay-per-view and I have to sell the fight. That’s all I’m trying to do. I’m trying to sell this fight. I’m trying to get everyone to tune and understand you’re tuning into a great fight and two great fighters and one of these fighters is prepared to shock the world.