On Saturday night, ‘Showtime' Shawn Porter (23-0-1, 14 KOs) makes the first defense of his IBF welterweight belt against Paulie Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KOs).
With the titleholder on his way to step out for the first time at the DC Armory, Bad Left Hook caught up with Carson Merk, Director of PR for Team Porter, as the camp put the finishing touches to their preparations.
How's the mood around camp for this fight been, Carson?
It's been great - you can tell that the whole team worked their butts off. They have help from sparring with guys like [Demetrius] ‘Boo Boo' Andrade, a world champion, to track work with Coach [Larry] Wade, and all of those additional aspects. They're excited to show what they've trained for.
Has winning a world title affected the team's preparations and, if so, how?
Other than Shawn's full-time name becoming ‘Champ', nothing's changed. In my eyes, that's how it should be. The whole team is grounded. Team Porter knows God put us where we need to be. Busting your butt in every camp and not letting success go to your head is what helped get us here. That's the same mindset we've had since day one, so that will never change.
All roads at welterweight eventually lead to Floyd Mayweather. Shawn Porter's name isn't one that's generally been considered a frontrunner for a future Mayweather fight, but the IBF belt, and victories over Malignaggi and Alexander would surely put him in the frame. Where do you feel a win on Saturday would leave Shawn at 147?
Team Porter's logic has always been: just worry about your [own] career. That's what you can control. Floyd writes his own script, and he's earned that right. Shawn just worries about handling his business in the ring, showcasing his talents to the fans and boxing community, and letting Al Haymon and Kenny Porter determine what's next.
The build-up to this, Shawn's highest-profile fight to date, is surely more demanding than anything you've experienced before. What do the preparations in the days approaching fight week look like?
Shawn and I are in constant contact. We work out the media stuff during Shawn's rare downtime, and squeeze things in as they come to our attention. His dad, in my opinion, is one of the best trainers and managers in boxing, and he keeps Shawn focused on his job. Shawn's a fighter first, and always will be, but it's important to get your name and brand out there, so we do what we can without even taking 1% of focus from his training. We did a brief little media tour right after his fight in December, but by the end of the month it was back to work.
As he's talked more to the media, I think people are getting to see that this kid is genuine -- this isn't an act or persona, this is a blessed individual who loves his friends, family, and fans, who works his butt off to make sure he delivers in the ring. Shawn will be happily doing all of his fight week stuff, while his dad makes sure the fight is always first on his mind.
And finally - what's your prediction for Saturday's fight?
I have no doubt that ‘Showtime' will keep his belt and, as always, put on an amazing show for the fans.