Shawn Porter was never more impressive than when he buzzed through Devon Alexander to win a clear unanimous decision and a welterweight world title in December. At least not until he was even more spectacular four months later.
That is when Porter made his first defense and crushed former two-division titlist Paulie Malignaggi, blasting him around the ring en route to a fourth-round knockout.
Porter is in a groove now, and he very well could be on his way to the big time, even a potential future fight with pound-for-pound king and unified welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.
But standing in his way is England's Kell Brook, a man just as determined to make it big and who has been patiently waiting for his world title opportunity for 19 months.
They will collide in the main event of a world title tripleheader Saturday (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET with preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme beginning at 7 p.m. ET/PT) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
"I know both these fighters have the hunger and desire to put on just an amazing fight," Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya said. "There is a lot at stake. It's a dangerous fight for both of these guys. These are the types of fights that people tend to avoid, but not Kell Brook, and not Shawn Porter. It's evenly matched. It's really a toss-up fight."
Porter (24-0-1, 15 KOs), 26, of Akron, Ohio, one of the best-conditioned fighters in boxing, knows what he wants to do. He wants a knockout and does not shy away from saying it.
"I am going into the fight looking for that knockout," he said. "I told myself that going four rounds or less would be a beautiful night for me. But at the same time, I am prepared for a 12-round fight, and being a boxer, I know that you must be prepared for anything.
"I welcome the target on my back. I enjoy people talking about me. The good thing about having the target on my back is that I am a very hard target to hit. I am very excited about this fight and looking forward to defending my title. Saturday couldn't come fast enough, and after the fight, I will be walking out with that title again. I will be showing off for the fans, my team, and for my future opponents."
Porter also said that from what he has seen of the 28-year-old Brook (32-0, 22 KOs) on video, he is not overly impressed, despite his impressive record.
"I'm not concerned about Kell Brook," Porter said. "People were asking me about his power, and I don't have much to say about that other than that I haven't seen anything on film that makes him different from anybody else.
"I believe that Brook will feel the added pressure in this being his first title fight. I handled it great. I welcomed it and loved it going into my first title fight. I'm not sure if he has the same personality to handle the extra pressure. I do know there will be a big crowd out there, and I can't wait. The West Coast is hot, and the crowd gets loud. I'm ready."
In the co-feature, super middleweight titlist Sakio Bika (32-5-3, 21 KOs), 35, of Australia, makes his second defense in a rematch against Anthony Dirrell (26-0-1, 22 KOs), 29, of Flint, Michigan, with whom he fought to an action-packed draw nine months ago in his first defense. Also, lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa Jr. (23-0-1, 17 KOs), 24, of Weslaco, Texas, will make the second defense against mandatory challenger Daniel Estrada (32-2-1, 24 KOs), 29, of Mexico, in the opener.
On the Showtime Extreme portion of the card, Deontay Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs), 28, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama -- due challenge world titleholder Bermane Stiverne later this year in a mandatory fight -- will stay busy against soft touch Jason Gavern (25-16-4, 11 KOs), 37, of Orlando, Florida, in a 10-rounder, and former two-division titlist Jorge Linares (36-3, 23 KOs), 28, of Venezuela, the mandatory challenger for the Figueroa-Estrada winner, will face club fighter Ira Terry (26-11, 16 KOs), 27, of Memphis, Tennessee, in an eight-round bout.
For Brook, the mandatory challenger, the fight with Porter is the culmination of an almost interminable wait for a title opportunity.
He was scheduled to challenge Alexander in a mandatory fight in January 2013 in Los Angeles. However, the fight was postponed until Feb. 23 in Detroit after Brook suffered an ankle injury. Then Alexander suffered a severely strained right biceps, and the fight was again delayed until May 18 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
However, a month before the fight, Brook suffered a stress fracture in his right foot and dropped out of the fight. With so many delays, Alexander instead faced substitute Lee Purdy, one of Brook's stablemates, and drilled him in the seventh round of a one-sided fight.
Brook has fought three times since as he has repositioned himself for a mandatory shot, winning all three by knockout, including against former titleholder Vyacheslav Senchenko.
"This has been a long time coming, but I've finally arrived on the top stage now," Brook said. "It's every fighter's dream to win a world title, and it's all I've been thinking about through all the training and waiting.
"I know Shawn Porter is a very tough customer and a very worthy champion. But this is my time. I'm so ready mentally, and physically, I've got my family here. I'm just in the best place of my life. I'm very confident, totally prepared, and Saturday could not come quick enough for me.
"I have been waiting a very long time for my opportunity to fight in a world title fight, so the added pressure and anticipation will work in my favor. I have never been more prepared for a fight before and knowing that this is the biggest fight of my career only adds to my confidence. This is definitely my opportunity to show American fans what all the fuss is about with this British guy. My message to them is that I will go into that ring and give it my all and come out with that world title. Get your popcorn ready."
The fight will be Porter's second in the United States. In December 2011, he knocked out low-level opponent Luis Galarza in the fifth round on the Andre Ward-Carl Froch undercard in Atlantic City.
Porter happens to think Brook might not travel well.
"Being that this is only the second time Kell Brook has fought in America, I hope he feels that added pressure of the big fight," Porter said. "The energy of the StubHub Center crowd will make him feel it, that's for sure. But, at the end of the day, I have to get in that ring and handle my business and not worry about all the factors that I can't control. I can't worry about what he feels and thinks. I know that I am full of confidence and positive energy and that I've been counting down for this fight.
"I love the fact that we are both undefeated, it makes for a great story. I know that he is a great fighter and I can't look past him -- that would be a huge mistake."
Brook said fighting in the U.S. is not an issue for him. He has been here for a few weeks and finished his camp in Las Vegas, where there is always top-quality sparring.
"It doesn't matter that this is only my second time fighting in America," he said. "It's just another ring, and I will be ready to go.
"Porter comes forward with swinging punches. I know that it will be a tough fight, but every top performer can adjust, and you will see me adjust. I know that it will be a dogfight, but I always find a way to win."
So does Porter, which means this should a very interesting fight.