It’s understandable that boxing’s biggest stars would be hesitant right now. The top dogs don’t want to make a smaller purse in this “no crowd” new normal of the Covid-19 world. From a business standpoint, it’s probably in their best interest to try and wait this out. Maybe by 2021 things will be stabilized and boxing life will go back to normal.
The welterweight division has certainly followed this mindset. Up until this past Saturday, none of the 147 lb. stars have come forward, itching for a fight. Jamal James and Thomas Dulorme had a quality second-tier tussle. Highly regarded prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. was also active. But none of the major players have rushed back to action yet. Errol Spence vs. Danny Garcia is on the schedule. Terence Crawford is looking to sign an opponent. But, still, no big names had actually fought– until Saturday.
Shawn Porter wasn’t given too tough of a task at the crowdless Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. German import Sebastian Formella was undefeated and reasonably skilled, but he was clearly overmatched. The brutally one-sided 12-round decision in Porter’s favor was testament to that. But Porter succeeded in his most important job following the Covid layoff– he put his name back into the public narrative.
By being the first world class, elite-level welterweight to headline a televised card, he staked his claim as THE contender to all of the division’s titles. Post-Formella, though, he directly challenged the winner of a clash of former foes Spence and Garcia scheduled for November 21.
“There’s no telling what they’ll see from me in a rematch,” Porter told media. “I think both guys can also make adjustments. That’s what makes rematches so great, the fans have seen what both of you can do and they want to see who will make the right adjustments. I definitely think that I will be a little different against either guy.”
But, realistically, Porter can go after any of the top dogs at 147 now. Spence. Garcia. Terence Crawford. Manny Pacquiao. By getting his name out there and being the first “name” to post a victory in the welterweight void, he should be in the mix for everyone because, pretty literally, nobody else has been doing anything.
Going after the winner of Spence-Garcia is, business-wise, the easiest route. Crawford is a world away, signed to Top Rank/ESPN and for Porter, who fights under the PBC banner with television ties to Fox, it might be a tough deal to nail down. Plus, Crawford has pretty much nixed the idea of a Porter fight right now, anyway. Meanwhile, Manny Pacquiao has yet to even announce a desire to come back.
At any rate, Porter has carved out a space for himself in the division and will be getting another crack at one of the top dogs soon.
The lesson to be learned in all of this is simple. By taking the risk of coming back first, Porter will reap the rewards. A smallish-money bout against an unknown foe was the small price to pay for this leverage. And now, by winning the low-risk bet on himself, “Showtime” Shawn can just sit back and wait. Another round of big money battles will soon be coming his way.