Even after compiling a 276-14 amateur record, the 5-foot-6 world boxing champion to be debuted in 2008 fighting at 165 pounds following a decorated pre-pro run, mostly as a middleweight, defeating Brooklyn’s own Daniel Jacobs among others.
But even as the Cleveland, Ohio, product gradually slimmed down to welterweight two years after turning pro, then undefeated, Porter, now at age 30, wasn’t quite viewed as someone with this as his ceiling.
“Have you ever been the underdog and won a fight?” Danny Garcia (34-2, 20 KO’s) asked Porter (29-2-1, 17 KO’s) on stage at the July 30 press conference to officially announce their Barclays Center bout on September 8.
“Yes, most definitely,” Porter responded, as if surprised to be asked such a question by Garcia of all people, who built a reputation as a cherry-picker, according to many boxing fans and media. “I’m the underdog in every fight. I’m the underdog on the eighth.”
In fact, Porter entered on September 8 as a +130 underdog to Garcia in their vacant WBC Welterweight World Title scrap, in which Porter emerged victorious by unanimous decision with two scores of 115-113, and a third of 116-112.
Though Garcia unsurprisingly felt like he earned the victory, Porter once again won over the hearts of the crowd as the B-side underdog, much like he did against Devon Alexander for his first world title in 2013, against Keith Thurman in 2016, against Andre Berto in 2017 – all of which were at Barclays Center.
And perhaps most notably against the polarizing Adrien Broner during 2015 in Las Vegas.
Brooklyn has become a home base for Porter, who has fought his last four fights at Barclays, and has an overall record of 4-1 in the arena. The only loss came to Thurman, 115-113 on all cards, a decision booed by a large portion of those in attendance two years ago.
Though he was denied from winning his second world title that night, on September 8 he obtained his crowning achievement, in his eyes at least.
“I think it’s this one,” said Porter after the win, asked which world title win was more satisfying. “I’m not exactly sure why to be honest with you. When we fought for the IBF title, we fought Devon Alexander. I knew I was going to dominate him and I knew I was going to win that title.
“This time it wasn’t that I didn’t know, but it was more so that I really wanted it,” he added.
And while Porter was given the opportunity to revel in his new level of greatness, the immediate prospects of “what’s next?” surfaced moments after his victory.
Another world champion and Barclays Center attraction, Errol Spence – who was given multiple rousing ovations when introduced to the crowd of over 13,000 on Saturday – entered the ring and challenged Porter to a unification bout, like Porter did to Garcia after the latter’s knockout of Brandon Rios this past February in Vegas.
Spence holds Porter’s old IBF title, and both sides insist that fight should be next. In the boxing political landscape, you just never know, as Porter acknowledged.
“I know how this thing works,” he said. “I know that Errol Spence got in the ring and he said he wanted to fight me in front of the world. I politely accepted that challenge. Not only because he stepped in the ring and said it, but that’s what I really want.
“The part that you all hate that I didn’t say in the ring because I know better than that, is that there’s gonna be some business that needs to play out,” he continued. “But I assure you, it won’t be because of Errol Spence if this fight is not next for me, and it will not be because of me if my next fight is not against Errol Spence.”
Kenny Porter, Shawn’s father, highlighted his reasoning for wanting the fight clear and concisely, opposing methods of promoters like Eddie Hearn and Oscar De La Hoya, known for over-marinating big fights, namely why wait?
“We want Errol Spence,” he said. “I don’t want to see Shawn fight until he’s 40 years old. I want Shawn to fight the prime guys now while he’s in his prime. Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Errol Spence, Bud Crawford. Great fighters should make each other great.”
If and when the mega-fight does happen, Porter will again enter as the underdog. But, as we can see, it kind of works for him.
Elsewhere on the card, Cuban welterweight Yordenis Ugas outpointed Cesar Miguel Barrionuevo in the co-main event, while Brooklynites Adam Kownacki, Richardson Hitchins, Chris Colbert and Amanda Serrano exited Barclays with decision victories, the latter earning her sixth world title in a sixth weight class, a feat only met by Manny Pacquiao and the De La Hoya.