Preview: Shawn Porter vs. Kell Brook

Sports Mole previews the IBF welterweight title clash between Shawn Porter and Kell Brook at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

When Kell Brook demolished an over-matched Hector Saldivia in October 2012 to become mandatory challenger for the IBF welterweight title, it looked as though his dream of competing for a world title was about to come to fruition as he prepared to take on Devon Alexander.

However, after three injuries - two to Brook and one to Alexander - saw their much-anticipated bout scrapped, it soon became increasingly uncertain whether the Sheffield fighter would ever have the opportunity to fulfil his undoubted potential as he struggled to deal with the disappointment of missing out on his chance to establish himself as one of the star names in a packed 147lbs division.

Brook endured a nine-month absence from the ring as he went through the process of regaining the focus required to cut it in such a brutal sport, but thanks to his willingness to remain as one of Britain's biggest names and to the people closest to him maintaining his motivation, Brook reappeared in July to comprehensively beat Carson Jones before being handed the carrot of facing Vyacheslav Senchenko in another IBF final eliminator.

After he had punched Ricky Hatton into retirement, Senchenko returned to England with a reputation, but Brook soon made the Ukrainian a forgotten man as he dismantled the former world champion inside four rounds to set up a second challenge for world honours once Alexander had faced the relatively untested Shawn Porter.

A date in April had been set aside for Alexander to face Brook, but Porter produced a gritty display to snatch the belt off Alexander, outpointing the champion over 12 rounds to throw another spanner in the works as he was allowed a voluntary defence of his newly-won belt before being forced to defend against 'Special K'.

Kell Brook catches Vyacheslav Senchenko with a straight left during their Final Eliminator for the IBF World Welterweight Championship bout at Motorpoint Arena on October 26, 2013© Getty Images

Promoter Eddie Hearn negotiated terms with the IBF to ensure that Brook was next in line to compete for their belt after Porter's defence against Paulie Malignaggi, and after he was dispatched by a devastating performance from Porter, the American and Brook will finally put their unbeaten records on the line at the StubHub Center in Carson, California on Saturday evening.

Much has been made of Brook's relative inexperience at the highest level but it's also a factor that can't be lost regarding Porter too, who, despite competing at some of the biggest arenas that the United States has to offer, has only just started to headline events - something which Brook has been doing in Sheffield for several years.

However, once the two men have made their way to the ring in front of what is expected to be a hostile crowd, they will be left to their own devices to try to ensure that they are firing on all cylinders in what is undoubtedly the biggest fight of both men's career.

The welterweight division is the most lucrative in boxing and both Porter and Brook have been linked with huge matches next year. Porter will throw his name into the hat to become Floyd Mayweather Jr's next opponent should he emerge victorious on the West Coast, while Brook could potentially face Amir Khan in a blockbuster clash should he overcome the American on his home patch.

It will be difficult for both men to completely distance themselves from thoughts of such opportunities as it sinks in what is on the line on Saturday night, but they are aspirations that need to be put on the back-burner as this is a showdown that could be decided by one lapse in concentration.

Shawn Porter lands a punch on Paulie Malignaggi during their IFB Welterweight Title fight on April 19, 2014© Getty Images

Earlier this year, we saw George Groves's hopes of defeating Carl Froch destroyed by the smallest of mistakes, and with both men possessing the firepower in their punches to end this one inside the distance, it's something that Porter and Brook need to be wary of when competing in an atmosphere that could potentially prove to be a distraction.

In terms of tactics, it's Porter who holds all of the aces because he has proven that he can prevail in contrasting circumstances. He had to box and out-muscle his way past Alexander but his raw power was enough to overwhelm Malignaggi in his last outing, and that's something that will play on the back of Brook's mind as he considers his approach from the first bell.

Brook's style means that he is more ruthless when fighting at range, but that allows Porter the option of countering the Brit or trying to pressurise his opponent on the inside. Either way, both options play into Porter's favour and he can afford to mix up his approach more so than Brook, who could be made to pay should he be too adventurous in the opening stages.

While Brook will likely be told to fight with caution, he still needs to find a way to discourage Porter early on to prevent the American from having the confidence to overpower him. Brook has shown that he has the weapons to inflict damage on his opponents, but Porter is yet to be significantly hurt in his career and the 28-year-old somehow needs to find a way to expose a vulnerability in the Ohio resident.

Pundits and supporters alike are split on who will end the evening as the champion, but this is only a 50-50 fight providing that Brook performs to the best of his ability and delivers a display in the same vein to that of his destruction of Senchenko last year.

Brook has the technical ability to come through this showdown as the victor, but if he doesn't apply the mentality and resilience needed in a fight of this magnitude, it will be Porter's name that will be under all of the lights.

Deontay Wilder in action against Audley Harrison during their heavyweight fight on April 27, 2013
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