It’s not rare to see Shawn Porter at local events wearing a smile and taking pictures with fans.
The former welterweight champion has been spotted at NBA Summer League games and at a Lights FC match. If there’s a boxing charity event, chances are Porter is there.
The Ohio-raised boxer has embraced his second home and considers himself a Las Vegas native. He reminded Danny Garcia in February that Las Vegas is his backyard when the two were engaged in a heated confrontation inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center ring.
“You’re from Ohio. You’re not from Vegas,” Garcia yelled after he knocked out Brandon Rios in the ninth round.
That triggered the often composed Porter.
“I live here, work here, train here … breathe here,” Porter responded.
Porter was enraged by Garcia’s comments, but he also was letting out frustration from not being able to land a title shot. If crashing a postfight interview was the way to get it, then it had to be done.
It worked. Two years after losing a competitive bout to Keith Thurman, Porter finally has another world championship opportunity, and it’s against the man who questioned his Las Vegas ties.
Porter (28-2-1, 17 knockouts) and Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) fight Saturday at the Barclays Center in New York, for the vacant WBC welterweight title. The Showtime-televised event airs at 6 p.m.
The prestigious green belt was vacated by Thurman, who took the title from Garcia in March. Thurman hasn’t fought in 17 months because of multiple injuries.
Porter, 30, and Garcia, 30, are two of the better welterweights, but neither is a current champion. That will change Saturday after the highly anticipated bout.
Garcia is a minus 155 favorite and Porter a plus 135 underdog at the Westgate sports book.
“The talk is done, no bad blood from me,” Porter said of his rivalry with Garcia. “Whatever it takes to win this fight, I am prepared to do it.”
Since losing to Thurman, Porter won two WBC title eliminators against Andre Berto and Adrian Granados. Garcia’s fight versus Rios was also a WBC title eliminator.
Porter and Garcia were headed for a No. 1 contender bout to get a second shot at Thurman. They skipped a step with Thurman sidelined.
“I was prepared to sit out a year,” Porter said. “I said, ‘If we don’t get Keith Thurman or Danny Garcia, we get nothing at all.’ ”
Porter said Garcia wouldn’t have accepted the fight if the WBC belt wasn’t on the line.
He and his father and trainer, Kenny, are confident about taking the belt home to Las Vegas.
“It’s going to be all over social media,” said Porter of having his 6-month-old son taking pictures with the belt. “He’ll be chewing on it.”
The 147-pound division is one of the best in boxing with Porter, Garcia, Thurman, IBF titlist Errol Spence and WBO champion Terence Crawford at the top of the rankings.
Porter doesn’t believe Thurman, who still has the WBA belt, deserves to be on that list because of his inactivity.
“It’s hard to put Keith in there,” Porter said. “I go above Keith. … Errol Spence goes first because he’s been champion longer, then Shawn Porter and then we get it on.”
But before getting to Spence, Porter will need to get past Garcia.
Thursday: Golden Boy Boxing, Hard Rock Hotel, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Sept. 15: Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, T-Mobile Arena, HBO PPV
Sept. 22: Sin City Showdown, Sam’s Town, Mayweather Promotions’ Facebook page
Oct. 20: Ryota Murata vs. Rob Brant, Park Theater, ESPN Plus