Shawn Porter was at home minding his own business when the telephone rang. It was a call that would change his life.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer was scrambling to find an opponent to fight Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title after Amir Khan took a pass.
The Alexander-Khan fight had long been anticipated, but Khan opted not to sign when he sensed he was a leading contender for a match against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Porter was Schaefer's choice. And while Porter, an elite amateur who has compiled a 22-0-1 pro record, was hardly overwhelmed, he was plenty excited.
"I had no inkling that this was coming," said Porter, who will meet Alexander in a Showtime-televised card Saturday at the Barclay's Center in the New York borough of Brooklyn. "It was a great thrill to finally get this chance. I knew that it was going to come, but until the opportunity is there, you never know. When it finally came, I was like, 'Wow, now this is what I've worked my whole life for, to get to this point.' "
Porter was a decorated amateur who racked up a 276-14 mark. One of those losses was at the Ohio State Fair to an 8-year-old named Devon Alexander.
Saturday's bout is a rematch of sorts, but Porter knows much has changed since he and Alexander were young boys who fought three one-minute rounds.
Porter has been around the top of the game – he served as a sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao in Pacquiao's bouts against Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley – and he's slowly moved up the rankings.
Khan's decision to pass on the bout with Alexander unexpectedly opened the door for him, but Porter doesn't believe he is out of his depth.
He turned pro in late 2008 and says he's right on schedule.
"My career has gone exactly how I wanted it to, and how I expected it would go," said Porter, whose only blemish was a 2012 draw with Julio Diaz. "Everything is right on time. I came out of the amateur program with a stout career and it was just a matter of time.
"I'm five years into my career. I don't feel like it took forever. The timing is right. It's perfect, actually. I'm at my peak and I'm ready to perform."
In Alexander, he'll be facing by far the most gifted man he's ever fought. Alexander is 25-1 with 14 knockouts and since his lackluster performance in a 2011 loss to Timothy Bradley, he's beaten sluggers Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana and Randall Bailey before getting past Lee Purdy in May.
Bradley put pressure on Alexander in their fight and Alexander seemed to wilt in the face of it. It's the same course that Porter is going to try to take.
"I know what Devon is going to want to try to do, and so for me, I have to make it a tough night for him and put some pressure on him," Porter said. "I've looked a lot at the Bradley fight as I've been getting ready and I actually talked to Timothy Bradley a few weeks ago.
"He made the same points. He basically said I needed to put some pressure on him, make him uncomfortable and make it a long night for him."
If he's successful at doing that, he'll win the first of what he believes will be multiple world titles.
He's fought for most of his life and frequently dreamed of what it would be like to stand in the center of the ring and have a belt wrapped around his waist.
That time is tantalizingly close, and Porter is eager to get his shot.
"The whole focus of my camp has been discipline, because I need to be disciplined if I'm going to do this, physically, mentally, physiologically, every way," Porter said. "I pushed on the track. I pushed in the gym. I pushed in the ring.
"And when you do everything you know you have to do, it gives you a good feeling. I don't have to worry about, 'Oh, I should have done this or I wish I did that.' I gave everything preparing for this fight and I'm ready to go in there and get that belt."
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- Devon Alexander
- Shawn Porter