Brutal Buzzsaw: Shawn Porter Exclusive

By Caryn A. Tate on September 7, 2018
Brutal Buzzsaw: Shawn Porter Exclusive
Shawn Porter most often utilizes a “buzzsaw” style. (Gregory Payan/Associated Press)

He is unrelenting, relentless, and active, grinding his opponents down on the inside, round by round, and pulling them into his type of fight…

There’s an old, well-used axiom in boxing: “Styles make fights.” It’s broadly acknowledged that a particular fighting style can have a major impact on the journey or the outcome of a bout.

There are several different styles with which a boxer can wield his craft. Sometimes a fighter’s style is determined by schooling; sometimes, depending on the individual, it can change based on what will be most effective against the opponent. Often, it’s influenced by the boxer’s temperament.

“Showtime” Shawn Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) most often utilizes a “buzzsaw” style: he is unrelenting, relentless, and active, grinding his opponents down on the inside, round by round, and pulling them into his type of fight. Even when he’s faced world-class foes, such as Keith Thurman, the contest becomes more about the other fighter trying to keep Porter off than taking him out of his game plan.

But Shawn didn’t always employ the same style. Back in 2013, he faced IBF world titlist Devon Alexander. Most pundits believed Alexander would neatly outbox the underdog Porter. But “Showtime” outboxed the boxer, utilizing effective footwork, speed, and timing to outwork Devon from the outside and, at other times, apply pressure from the inside and outside to pull Alexander into a firefight—which clearly favored Shawn. In prior bouts, too, Porter boxed more from the outside than he tends to do these days.

Shawn discussed the change in his style since that time, and his underrated boxing ability in general.

“I think the shift kinda came from me seeing what my opponents couldn’t really handle,” he told

“I’m someone who has fought for a long time so I have developed great boxing ability. Boxing from the outside, using hand speed, setting up your opponents as opposed to what you see me doing a lot of which is the aggressive attack—which is also calculated, but it’s not as calculated as boxing ability.”

Porter sees clearly the way his opponents tend to fall into the traps he sets for them, particularly in conjunction with his pressure style.

“I’m always energetic in the ring and I’m always working in the ring. Guys just kind of fall into what I’m doing. Obviously you have guys who come in the ring with their own game plan, and me not allowing them to get into their game plan is how I get them to fall into what I need them to do.

“Most times guys feel like they need to keep up with me. And if they can’t keep up with me, then they won’t be able to win the fight. I think the combination of them knowing what I’m gonna do and knowing what they need to do—it all just kind of comes together into what I want them to do.”

These days, fighters have seen Porter’s pressure style and should know what to expect when they get in the ring with him. Nevertheless, it’s common to see his opponents appearing to be surprised by his intensity.

“Guys know what to expect from Shawn Porter—they have to get prepared for that. But somehow, some way…I come up with multiple game plans, like with Adrien Broner. Adrien knew I was gonna be aggressive but he didn’t know I had such a great long jab from the outside. So a lot of times I caught him from the outside before I worked my way in.

“Same thing with Keith Thurman. I don’t think Keith necessarily expected me to box as much as I boxed with him, but you go up against a hard-hitter like Thurman, you’ve gotta be prepared to do other things as well as be aggressive and take him up against the ropes.”

This Saturday, September 8, Porter faces fellow former world champion Danny Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) for the vacant WBC world welterweight title. The event will be broadcast on Showtime starting at 9pm ET/6pm PT.

Porter, like most if not all fighters at the very top level, undergoes a mental transformation as he prepares for fight night. I asked about his mindset and what it takes to achieve that level of focus.

“When I turn it on, my state of mind is so far and above what the normal person, I guess, operates at. It’s kind of like a movie—you see that actor go into a state. We get to this mental state where it’ll literally be 3 or 4 hours out of the fight, and that’s when we finally kind of shake our head and come out of what we needed to prepare for and the state of mind we needed to be in in order to what we had to do.

“It’s not that we’re mean. It’s 100% what we know to do, and how we know to get there in order to be successful and get the job done.”

There are two specific fights of Shawn’s that he feels epitomized his ferocious mentality and the hard work put in during training camp to achieve victory.

“Keith Thurman, in the moment, I had no clue at all what was happening…what I mean by that is, once I went back and took a look at the fight, I took a deep breath and was like, wow. There was a lot going on, we were going fast, and he and I were both making it happen. In a lot of ways I was in awe of what I did that night and also what he did that night.

“Same thing with Andre Berto. To go at him round after round the way I did. I think it was after the seventh round, I don’t know how many punches I had thrown, but I came back to the corner and my dad said to me, ‘Why’d you go at him like that?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, he was there and I just kept throwing.’ My dad said, ‘All right, let’s be smart and let’s make sure we’re still being aware and responsible offensively and defensively. We don’t want to just go after this guy and empty the tank so soon.’

“And then two rounds alter, he looked at me and said, ‘Go get him and end the fight.’”

Outside the ring, Porter has done expert commentary on television broadcasts for Premier Boxing Champions. Most recently, he and Robert Guerrero (now retired) provided analysis on the Andre Berto vs. Devon Alexander card, which was broadcast on FOX on August 4.

“When I’m done boxing I’m definitely going into commentating. I absolutely love it and I think I have two things. Obviously you have Paulie Malignaggi, Roy Jones, Andre Ward, the late Emanuel Steward—a list of guys who have the [expert] perspective I have. But I think I have what most of those guys don’t: a way of delivering it which is youthful, fresh, it’s different. At the same time you can understand it.

“It was really fun for me to do Andre Berto vs. Devon Alexander. I fought both those guys and even outside of that, when you have an orthodox fighter going up against a southpaw, there shouldn’t be any dead air at all. There’s so much that goes into a fight like that with those two contrasting styles and I think on top of everything else, I always tell myself to make it fun. That’s what I’ve been doing, just having fun.”

At one point during the telecast, Porter and fellow commentator Guerrero physically demonstrated fighting tactics for Berto and Alexander. Aside from enabling the audience to see two actual fighters explaining and demonstrating combat strategies, it worked perfectly because Porter is an orthodox fighter and Guerrero is a southpaw (mimicking Berto and Alexander, respectively).

“That was the producer’s idea,” Shawn explained. “The cool part about it was we kinda did it on the fly. It was something FOX had never done so they didn’t know how it was gonna come off. And you have myself and Robert Guerrero there who are both very experienced in boxing, so they put the camera on us and we did the rest. I remember we sat down to go back to the commentary, because neither of us had ever done anything like that before…I put my fist up to him and we gave each other a pound because we knew that this was a big moment, that we would have to do something really big for boxing, and I think it came off magnificently.”

Check out more of Caryn’s work at and follow her on Twitter@carynatate

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Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter | Full Fight | SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING

Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter | Full Fight | SHOWTIME BOXING

Broner vs Porter FULL FIGHT: June 20, 2015 - PBC on NBC

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