Shawn Porter called it his personal “Super Bowl,” and his determination showed against more celebrated Danny Garcia as Porter pulled off a unanimous decision upset comparable to Eagles over Patriots to capture the vacant WBC welterweight title Saturday night at Barclays Center. It was the second world title for Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) and the second loss in his past three fights for Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs), who yielded the WBC belt to Keith Thurman 18 months ago in the same ring.
Thurman vacated the title because of multiple injuries that have kept him idle since then. He was at ringside as an analyst for Showtime, and IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. also was another interested spectator at ringside in the crowd of 13,058. Garcia said before the fight that he hoped for a unification match with Spence, but Porter moved to the head of that line.
“I made a prediction and a hard one to live up to,” Porter said after the decision. “I said I wasn’t leaving New York without this belt, and I’m not leaving New York without this belt . . . This title means a lot to me. It meant a lot to boxing [history,] and I wanted to be part of that.”
Judge Don Ackerman scored it 116-112, and judges Julie Lederman and Eric Marlinski both gave Porter a 115-113 edge.
Although the 5-7 Porter was giving away two inches in height and kept his distance early, he was able to fight from the outside in by coming in low and then lunging into Garcia with a relentless body attack. Porter’s plan was to keep Garcia off balance and not allow him to ever gain a rhythm.
Whenever Porter got caught by sharp counter-punches in the early going, he reverted to his quickness to get inside and turn it into a wrestling match, piling up points by going to the body but without really ever seeming to hurt Garcia. It was like a volleyball match as the momentum went back and forth through the first eight rounds.
Describing Garcia’s approach, Porter said, “He tried to outhustle me, mostly at the end of rounds. He did a tremendous job . . . It wasn’t necessarily about making it wild. My dad wanted me to stay consistent with the body work and consistent with the pressure.”
In the ninth, Garcia seemed to find a comfortable punching range, but it didn’t last as he struggled to fend off Porter’s lunging, rushes by pushing him off and then trying to punch. Garcia seemed to land some effective counters that way in the 10th, but Porter once again stepped up his work rate over the final two rounds of a bout that was very tough to score.
Porter’s style was awkward for Garcia to handle, but he was surprised by the decision. “I thought I did enough to win,” Garcia said. “It was a close fight . . . I thought I landed the clearer shots. I thought I won this fight. I have to sit back, relax and see what’s next for me.”
Notes & quotes: On the undercard, Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki (18-0, 14 KOs), who trains under Keith Trimble at the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy, stamped himself as a legitimate title contender, scoring a unanimous decision over former IBF champion Charles Martin (25-2-1, 23 KOs) by identical scores of 96-94. Martin won the 10th round from all three judges to make it closer as the two fighters combined to land 57 power shots, 30 by Martin.
“I have a great team behind me,” Kownacki said. “I proved tonight that I’m a top 10 fighters at heavyweight. I need a few more fights before the title shot, but it’s coming.”
The difference in the bout was Kownacki’s power punching. He landed 219 of 590 power punches compared to 185 of 503 by Martin, according to CompuBox.
“I thought I won the decision a little wider than the cards, but Charles came to fight all night. He was in shape and coming forward, and I had to dig deep.”