Photo Credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME & Tom Hogan – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
CARSON, Calif. – Turns out, it was Showtime … for “The Special One,” Kell Brook.
In a minor upset, Britain’s Kell Brook (33-0, 22 KOs), of Sheffield, England, won a battle of undefeated welterweights and the IBF world title with a majority 12-round decision over defending champion “Showtime” Shawn Porter (24-1-1, 15 KOs), of Cleveland, Ohio, Saturday on SHOWTIME from StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
Brook, fighting in his first world championship match and making only his second start in the United States, won by the scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114. There were no knockdowns.
Unbeaten Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell (27-0-1, 22 KOs), of Flint, Mich., became the second cancer survivor and 55th alum of ShoBox: The New Generation to capture a world title when he out-mauled, out-brawled and unanimously outpointed defending champion Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika(32-5-3, 21 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, to take the WBC Super Middleweight World Title in a grudge rematch.
In the opening bout of the SHOWTIME telecast, undefeated Omar “Panterita” Figueroa Jr. (23-0-1, 18 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, successfully retained his WBC Lightweight World Championship with an exciting ninth-round knockout over determined mandatory challenger Daniel “Tremendo” Estrada(32-3-1, 24 KOs), of Mexico City.
A crowd of 7,025 turned out for the Golden Boy Promotions’ fight card, including a Who’s Who of boxing greats such as Marcos “El Chino” Maidana, Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez, Unified Super Lightweight World Champion Danny “Swift” Garcia, Interim WBA Welterweight ChampionKeith “One Time” Thurman, WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Leo “Terremoto” Santa Cruz, Forner WBC Welterweight Champion Andre “The Beast” Berto, Former WBC Continental Americas and the NABF Welterweight Champion Jesus “Renuente” Soto Karass former interim WBO Light Middleweight Champion Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo and Former WBC and IBF Light Welterweight Champion and former IBF Welterweight Champion Devon Alexander “The Great”.
For Brook, this opportunity at a world title was a long time coming. Three times he was scheduled to challenge then-IBF welterweight world champion Devon Alexander and three times a fight was cancelled due to injuries to both boxers.
Injury-free, confident and determined to make the most of his shot on Saturday, Brook fought perhaps the fight of his life.
“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.”
Porter, a former U.S. amateur standout, thought he had done enough to win his second title defense despite getting cut over his right eye in the sixth.
“I think I’m still the champion,” he said. “I’m 24-1 and Team Porter will be back to the drawing board. There are no excuses. I do want the rematch.”
Dirrell won by the scores of 117-110, 116-111, 114-113 in a fight that, like almost every Bika fight, featured lots of takedowns, elbows, low blows, holding but mostly lots of scolding from referee Jack Reis. The fighters, particularly Bika, were warned repeatedly for illegal tactics. Reis finally deducted a point from Bika for a low blow in the eighth.
Like Brook, Dirrell was overcome by emotion and cried in the ring.
“This journey has been amazing and I can’t even fathom it,” Dirrell told SHOWTIME’s Jim Grayafterward. “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.
“This means the world to me, what else can I say? After beating cancer, making it back from a motorcycle accident and getting a second chance at boxing, I just knew I was going to make the best of it.
“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. I’m not gonna complain about the close scores. I got a unanimous decision and I couldn’t be happier.
“The difference between this fight and our first one is that I wasn’t on the ropes this time. I came out and boxed. But I know I got his attention at the start.”
Said Bika: “I fought very hard. He was a better fighter tonight. I’m going to go back to the gym and come back stronger. This (losing) happens.”
Figueroa, making his first title defense, was leading a fast-paced slugfest by the scores of 80-72 and 79-73 twice entering the 10th. But it was hardly a blowout. At the end of a flurry of thrilling action at the end of the third round, SHOWTIME’s Mauro Ranallo said, “Tremendous action. Yes, this is a record,at the StubHub!”
Early in the 10th, Figueroa landed a hard right hand that dropped Estrada. The challenger made it to his feet, but was defenseless as Figueroa continued to flail away with both hands. The referee rescued Estrada at the one-minute mark of the round.
“I don’t think I did that great and obviously felt I could be more explosive and maybe get him out of there earlier,” said Figueroa, who suffered a bad cut above his left eye from an unintentional headbutt in the ninth. “I was a little concerned that the referee or doctor would stop the fight because of the cut. I knew Estrada would be open for the right hand. I was playing a little possum when I caught him.”
Figueroa has been plagued by fragile hands throughout his career, but came out of this one feeling relatively healthy. “My left hand is a little swollen, but my right hand feels pretty good,’ he said.
As for the immediate future, Figueroa sounded like a boxer ready to move up a weight class. “I’m not 100 percent positive I am going to stay at 135 pounds,” he said. “I’m sure my body would be more comfortable fighting at 140. But if the money is right, I would defend again at 135.”
Estrada, who had a nine-fight winning streak end despite outpunching Figueroa, 557-510, was classy and appreciative afterward.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” said Estrada, who was making his U.S. debut and fighting less than three weeks after a sister and her daughter were killed in an automobile accident in Mexico. “Initially I felt good but he hurt me and I couldn’t recuperate. I had the mentality to win, but I was up against a great champion.”
Earlier on SHOWTIME EXTREME, undefeated heavyweight knockout sensation and No. 1-ranked WBC contender Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder of Tuscaloosa, Ala., improved to 32-0 with 32 knockouts with a fourth-round TKO over Jason Gavern (25-17-4, 11 KOs), of Orlando, Fla.
Wilder, going four full rounds for the first time, dropped Gavern twice, in the third and in the fourth round. The referee, at the suggestion of Gavern’s cornermen, halted matters at the end of the fourth.
“This was fun,” Wilder said. “I wanted to go some rounds. A lot of people are still asking so many questions to me; I tried to answer some of them today.
“Of course, I could have landed my right hand more in the first couple rounds. He was leaving me openings, but I didn’t want to show off everything. I wanted to save that for next time.
“I’m ready for that world title fight. I want the WBC champ Bermane Stiverne next, hopefully in late November.”
In the opening bout on SHOWTIME EXTREME, former two-division world champion Jorge “Niño De Oro” Linares (37-3, 24 KOs) may have earned himself a shot at WBC 135-pound champ Figueroa with a second-round knockout over Ira Terry (26-12, 16 KOs), of Memphis, Tenn. After dominating the first round, Linares connected with a solid straight right hand that put Terry down on the seat of his pants. The referee didn’t bother to count.
“This was the kind of fight I didn’t expect but that I wanted,” Linares said. “I was able to watch tapes o him extensively so I was well prepared. I definitely want to fight for the world title next. That’s why I was here and took this fight. I’m just waiting for my opportunity.
“That was a good straight right hand I landed on him. Once I connected I knew it was over.”
Marcos “El Chino” Maidana, who faces Floyd “Money” Mayweather in the main event onSHOWTIME PPV on Saturday, Sept. 13, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and Leo Santa Cruz, who will defend his WBC Super Bantamweight title against Mexico’s Manuel “Suavecito” Roman in the co-feature,were interviewed by SHOWTIME during the telecast.