BROOK SILENCES DOUBTERS
By Tom McGrath on Aug 26 2014
Although Brook was regarded as a slick fighter amongst many in the boxing community, most pundits believed Porter would have superior speed and strength in this fight. Doubts were raised around the quality of Brook's previous opponents. With some of boxing media suggesting that Brook would be blown away by Porter's ferocious style and physicality in the ring.
However, uncertainty loomed in the air as both fighters awaited the bell to signal the start of their highly anticipated welter showdown. Each fighter with a point to prove. The energetic young American, Porter, hoping to extend his hot run of recent form and solidify his rapidly growing reputation as one of the most dangerous welterweights in the division. And the outwardly composed British challenger, Brook, hoping to silence the doubters and announce himself as a genuine contender at the elite level of boxing.
In round one, both fighters quickly established their game plans that would define the narrative of the fight. Porter looked to give Brook problems, trying to flood the challenger with combinations as he rushed forward in bursts. Brook looked slick, perhaps a little cautious, as he quickly tried to work out how to deal with Porter's aggressive style and strategy. It didn't take him long to find effective tools to nullify Porter's aggression. Having instant success with the short left hook, that landed on the button, as Ported came forward. And using tight right-hand upper-cuts to work out of the clinch. Brook seemed to find an effective range in the opening round, working well off the jab and setting up crisp right hands. The challenger was selective but effective coming forward. Generally picking clean shots and subsequently slipping and ducking Porters over-hand counter shots.
The second round saw much of the same. Porter's strategy was clear. Coming forward in intense bursts and trying to rough up Brook on the inside, testing the challenger's resolve. Brook stood firm using his experience and ring craft to negate Porter's pressure, again having great success with the well timed short left hook as Porter lunged in. Brook started to find a bit of rhythm mixing up his shot selection with solid jabs to the body and beating Porter to the punch with a delicious straight right that shook the title holder, as he swung a wild left hook. However, Porter was undeterred, sticking to his game plan and proving to be a tricky customer as he came forward erratically at times, trying rough tactics on the inside and hoping to get to work on the body. This forced the challenger to tie Porter up as he came in, often recklessly, with his head. It wasn't long before this proved to be problematic for Brook as he sustained a cut above his left eye, following a clash of heads towards the end of the second round.
If Brook was concerned about the cut, he didn't seem to show it. And his corner did well to minimise the damage. As the third round got under way a clear pattern was emerging. Porter was the aggressor, awkward and energetic. But his relentless work-rate was proving to be ineffective and predictable. Brook in contrast, seemed to have worked out how to take away his opponents strength's, catching him with short shots as Porter came forward and tying up cleverly to stay out of range of the champions dangerous over-hand shots. This was key to the success the challenger was having. He seemed to have found a way of forcing Porter to throw his power punches out of range and off balance. Either smothering the champions shots or forcing him wide or over the top. This took away Porters power, his main threat. This was smart, calculated boxing from the British fighter. And Porter would have to change tactics or wear down his opponent to have any real success.
This trend carried on into a messy fourth round. Brook sensing some frustration in his opponent, caught the eye with the cleaner work, using a clever combination of his jab followed by a counter right-hand effectively. Porter again tried to go to work on the inside but with little success. Not doing enough to win the round.
By the fifth round, Brook was controlling the fight. Boxing at a pace and range that seemed comfortable for him. Porter was busy but ineffective. As the challenger's confidence grew he impressed with his decision making and shot selection. Jabbing to the head and following it up immediately with a strong jab to the body. Throwing clean straight right-hands that landed on Porter's chin. Brook was giving Porter all sorts of problems and the American was becoming more hesitant coming forward as he didn't know where the punches would be coming from. The smartness of British fighter's work seemed to be frustrating Porter, who didn't have a plan b. Brook's dominance was echoed by the American commentators ringside, who stated simply, that Brook had “stabilised the fight already, for himself.”.
Brook's boxing skills and superior ring-craft were becoming increasingly evident. Even as Porter rallied in the seventh, for probably his most effective round of the fight. Brook took some clean punches from the hard hitting American fighter, who had been dubbed the 'Mike Tyson' of the welterweight division by some in the American media. Yet none of the punches phased Brook, who finished the round strongly, hurting his opponent with a stinging right upper-cut.
Brook looked strong in the eighth and ninth rounds, pushing Porter back, working well of the double jab and consistently landing clean right-hands and stiff left hooks as Porter's work-rate began to slow down.
Porter never gave up. But he couldn't find a way to upset Brook's rhythm or hurt the challenger. And as Brook continued to box at a comfortable range and tie-up his opponent on the inside, he was able to pick his shots with relative ease at times. Landing a dangerous and classy combination of a left hook, followed by a straight right-hand in the tenth and eleventh rounds.
As the fight drew to a close Brook kept his composure in an even twelfth round, tying up well and probably producing the slicker work. As the fighters awaited the judges scorecard Brook appeared calm before his camp erupted as he was declared the new IBF World Champion.
But ultimately it was the maturity of Brook's performance that sent the loudest message. He looked balanced and composed as he dealt with a highly active and dangerous opponent, making adjustments to his counter-part's style that paid dividends for him in the fight.
If there were question marks about Brooks credentials coming into the fight, the maturity of his performance surely answered them. Brook can now look ahead at future fights against the biggest names in the welterweight division. With an all British super fight against Amir 'King' Khan, looking likely for 2015.
1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
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