Shawn Porter is the betting favorite tonight as he makes the second defense of his IBF welterweight strap against undefeated mandatory challenger Kell Brook. How do the bookies see the fight going?
Porter (24-0-1, 15 KOs), at the most generous price across the market, is a firm -225 to see off Brook, Sheffield, England, and following April's emphatic four-round shellacking of Paulie Malignaggi, it's a quote that's hard to argue too much against. Brook (32-0, 22 KOs) - just shy of a 2/1 underdog - however, is an altogether different proposition, both stylistically and physically.
In terms of size alone, Brook is certainly one of the biggest men that Porter's seen in the opposite corner since his campaign at 147 began, with the likes of Malignaggi and Julio Diaz hardly being the most imposing of welterweights. The obvious counter to that, of course, is that Porter, who started his pro career at middleweight and later light-middle - and is built like a tank himself - is unlikely to be fazed by that alone, but it's also worth noting that Brook is no slugger.
On paper, there's much to say that Brook holds a lot of the aces here: the taller, rangier fighter, with a solid jab, and a probable slight edge in power, it's the Dominic Ingle-trained ‘Special One' that looks the slicker of the two in the ring.
The difference, come Sunday morning, however, may well be able to be traced back to the intangibles. There's been a long line of British fighters of late that have impressed at European and fringe world level - whether or not they held a trinket of their own - only to be given a rude awakening when eventually stepping up in class. Nathan Cleverly, slain by Sergey Kovalev, is a notable case in point.
There are more: John Murray. Lee Purdy. Matthew Hatton. Ryan Rhodes. Brian Rose. There are more. All bar Cleverly travelled Stateside, all were overmatched. All bar Hatton were knocked out. There's an asterisk here though, and that's that Brook is a far more accomplished fighter, a more natural talent, the man with the biggest potential upside. Yet, when looking for ways to scribble Brook's name onto your betslip this weekened, the red flag comes when looking at his and Porter's comparative experience. Porter, the younger man by two years at 26, has already vanquished Malignaggi - he of battles with Cotto, (Ricky) Hatton, Juan Diaz - and former unified 140lb titlist Devon Alexander. By some quirk, Porter has been the same price or thereabouts in the last three fights for which he's been the betting favourite - Brook (-225), Malignaggi (-225), Julio Diaz II (-200), and was a considerable 4/1 underdog in what turned out to be his breakout fight against Alexander.
More on Porter-Brook
More on Porter-Brook
By contrast - and it's worth pointing out as a foreword to the rest of this paragraph that Brook would have stepped up against Alexander last year if it were not for injury to both men - Brook's record is altogether less impressive, however fancy 32-0 may look. Going back as far as Brook's under-the-radar American debut against Luis Galarza in 2011 (Brook was around a -10000 favorite for that bout), the list of opponents and lopsided betting odds reads as follows: Matthew Hatton (Brook a -1000 favorite), Carson Jones, twice (Brook -900, -600), Hector Saldivia (-1000), Vyacheslav Senchenko (-800), Alvaro Robles (-3300).
For a fighter thought of so highly, that's a run that's clearly low on any real quality - whatever the IBF may tell us - and one that's desperately lacking any kind of upwards arc that would seem to adequately prepare against a Shawn Porter in beast mode at the StubHub. It's worth bearing in mind should Brook come undone on Saturday night.
Picking a winner in a match-up between two unbeaten fighter is always difficult, and more so predicting exactly how they'll get it done. The layers are most wary of Porter inside the distance (+120), with Brook at +450 to claim the belt inside the twelve, but as short as +350 with a handful of books. The challenger is a best-priced +500 to earn the nod on the cards, but worthy of more attention could be a Porter decision. As the house fighter, it's likely to be Porter that employs the more aggressive, eye-catching approach and - putting the Malignaggi performance to one side for a moment - his KO record is reasonably modest, with 15 stoppages from 24. Given that, prior to Malignaggi, Porter's five previous fights all went the distance, the +300 on offer that he retains via the scorecards is the price that looks the most out of line in the main event.
On the undercard...
Sakio Bika (+175) vs. Anthony Dirrell (-187)
Omar Figueroa (-500) vs. Daniel Estrada (+350)
Deontay Wilder (-10000) vs. Jason Gavern (+2500)