Boxers bring the heat Saturday; Brook, Dirrell, Figueroa win

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An elated Kell Brook reacts to the news that he is the new IBF welterweight champion on Saturday after defeating Shawn Porter. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime
An elated Kell Brook reacts to the news that he is the new IBF welterweight champion after defeating Shawn Porter. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

SAN DIEGO, August 16, 2014 – Fight fans soaked up some sun and soaked up plenty of boxing action Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Before the sun set, there were two new title holders, a third gutted out a TKO win, and several others made short work of their opponents.

The boisterous British fans celebrated a unanimous decision victory by Kell “Special K” Brook of England (33-0-0, 22 KOs) over American Shawn “Showtime” Porter (24-1-1, 15 KOs) in the main event, handing Porter his first defeat and taking his IBF super welterweight title belt. Brook and his corner reacted with elation and emotion at the announcement.

“You can tell how much it means to me by my reaction,” said Brook, who was cut over the left eye in the second round. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I was nine-years old. It’s unbelievable.

“I was scrappy tonight, and not as slick as I wanted to be. But I’m the world champion now, baby. I was born to do this.


“I’m ready for a mega, mega fight next. I’ll take on Keith Thurman or Floyd Mayweather. Amir Khan should get in queue now. I’m the world champion now so they’re all going to want to fight me.”

Kell Brook of Great Britain puts pressure on American Shawn Porter Saturday. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime
Kell Brook of Great Britain puts pressure on American Shawn Porter Saturday. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

It is no small accomplishment to come into another fighter’s home country and win a decision the way Brook did. Observers ringside agreed that Brook landed by far the harder, more accurate punches against Porter, and did more damage. But Porter was aggressive, game, and active in the ring throughout the fight, even if he was dazed a few times.

So would the judges give Brook the decision he deserved, or give the reigning champion the benefit of the doubt in his own country? One judge scored the fight a draw, 114-114; judge scored it 117-111 and Adelaide Byrd scored it 116-112.

Porter had the right attitude after his first defeat: “We’ll go back to the drawing board, Team Porter. We’ll do what we always do… No excuses at this point.”

Brook’s win may not put him on the short list to fight Floyd Mayweather just yet, but it does set him up nicely for a bout with someone like countryman Amir Khan. The pair could fill up Wembley Stadium and thrill plenty of fans.

Anthony Dirrell won a decision over Sakio Bika in their rematch Saturday. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime
Anthony Dirrell won a decision over Sakio Bika in their rematch Saturday. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

Anthony Dirrell (27-0-1, 22 KOs) of Flint, Michigan also won a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika of Australia via Cameroon (31-6-3, 21 KOs). The pair made their bad intentions toward each other clear from the opening bell. It was also clear referee Jack Reiss would earn his money tonight. It was a rough, messy fight. He had to constantly admonish the fighters as he tried to keep them in line.

The pair showed some terrific action, but it was woven in between spells of holding, wrestling, and low blows, along with some theatrics worthy of a World Cup game. Bika had a point taken away for low blows just as he did in his first fight with Dirrell when the pair fought to a draw.

But this time Bika hadn’t done enough to overcome that penalty. The judges scored it 114-113, 116-111, and 117-110. Australians have had it rough in America the last few weeks, with Bika the latest to fall.
“This journey has been amazing and I can’t even fathom it,” Dirrell said afterward to Showtime’s Jim Gray. “I already overcame the biggest fight of my life by beating cancer. I can’t see anything being bigger than this. I was never close to giving up. I stuck to it and now I’m WBC world champion.”

Dirrell complimented referee Jack Reiss. “Tonight the referee did a wonderful job. Bika is rough, he’s a helluva fighter. But I’m glad to finally have him in my rearview mirror.”

Omar Figueroa (right) scored a ninth round TKO victory over a tough Daniel Estrada. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime
Omar Figueroa (right) scored a ninth round TKO victory over a tough Daniel Estrada. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

The consensus fight of the night on the Showtime event was Omar Figueroa’s ninth round TKO victory over a tenacious Daniel Estrada of Mexico, holding onto his WBC lightweight belt. .

Figueroa (24-0-1, 17 KOs) and Estrada (34-3-1, 24 KOs) made it every bit the exciting fight fans hoped for, but with a few plot twists.

From the opening bell, both proved they could take a punch. It was a close fight at the start, but Figueroa’s relentless pressure started doing damage to Estrada.

Estrada hung tough but Figueroa was ahead on the cards and looked on the way to a victory when the pair had a vicious head clash, opening a huge gash right in the middle of Figueroa’s forehead. Estrada tried his best to take advantage with what little he had left, but it was too little too late. Figueroa finished the round, and for a short time it seemed the ringside physician would stop the fight. He did not, and it continued.

Figueroa said after the fight he knew Estrada would try to take advantage of the cut, so decided it was all or nothing. He let Estrada have it, and at 1:11 of the ninth round, referee Raul Caiz Sr. stopped it. It was exactly the type of gut-it-out performance Figueroa needs to keep the fans excited as he moves up to 140 pounds. He told Showtime’s Jim Gray his problematic hands felt good and he’s ready for the move up.

Imposing heavyweight Deontay Wilder (right) had little trouble with Jason Gavern. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime
Imposing heavyweight Deontay Wilder (right) had little trouble with Jason Gavern. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

Shortly after the bout, the current 140 pound champion Danny “Swift” Garcia was introduced to the StubHub Center crowd. He received a round of boos, the result of his mismatch win the previous weekend. Garcia would be smart to heed that cold reception and show more respect to his fans by taking on worthy opponents in the future. This is a lesson for every boxer at the top levels of the sport.

Fans who also watched the earlier Showtime Extreme portion of the program saw heavyweight Deontay Wilder mow down a hapless Jason Gavern of Florida to remain undefeated at 32-0 with a perfect stoppage record, with the chance to face some of the bigger names in the big man’s division like Bermane Stiverne. Jorge Linares made even shorter work of a shopworn, uninspired Ira Terry, which could put him in line to fight Omar Figueroa. As a bonus, fans also saw Irish boxer Jason Quigley give a sharp performance in only his second professional fight after an impressive amateur career over Fernando Najera, whose day job is driving taxis in Tijuana, Mexico. Keep your eye on Quigley.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

 

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