It’s been really hard to settle into a rhythm and a routine. It’s sporadic; it’s on the go. I’m in and out of town [Las Vegas] a lot – doing a lot of different things. The lack of rhythm – your routine – right now is starting to get heavy on me, from a standpoint of schedule and rest, but for the most part, at the same time, it’s so much fun. It doesn’t really leave room for me to feel restless.
The easy part about being a fighter and having that rhythm and routine was everyone knew, “Hey – Shawn’s in camp – don’t call; don’t text; don’t expect him to be here or be there”. Now everyone’s calling and wants me and my expertise. But it’s been so much fun. I’m painting the picture of the downside of it, but the upside outweighs the downside so much.
I’ve had aspirations of being an actor since I was a teen – 2021 is when I first got the [film] script. I’ve been working on – Round 1 [Porter will play the lead role of Vincent]. “This is going to be the last fight and I’ll dedicate as much time as I can after this.” I’m locked and loaded in this, and I’m working on a life-coaching programme as well. The other stuff is the broadcasting; the podcasting. The two big things is the movie business and the life-coaching programme. That’s how you help the world.
I saw a life coach back in 2013, at a crossroads moment for me. I did not even know what a life coach was, and someone said, “Hey, I think you should see someone”, and I did and it really stuck with me. She not only empowered me, mentally and emotionally, but she also gave me these notes I’d been taking throughout the week. “Listen, go back where you belong – get back to your career. Do what you gotta do, and whenever you feel yourself coming into a hard time, come back to these notes and they should help you.” Sure enough, they did. I’m working on my documentary right now which will really spell out [the crossroads I mentioned], but it’s no secret that when you’re dealing with a personal relationship sometimes it pours into the business relationship. Me being as young as I was, and the things that me and my dad were both experiencing for the first time as a professional athlete and him being my dad – it became overwhelming. I started to experience what I didn’t realise was emotional stresses.
Between 2016 and 2020 is when, from a psychological standpoint, I started to really pay attention and learn and grow. I realised God gave me the ability to know people; to understand people; communicate with people, and of course help people. During the pandemic is when I got certified. “Let me take this to another level and create something of my own – something that fighters need, and something the rest of the world can benefit from as well.”
[As a fighter] I’ve always been myself. I’ve always been really genuine. Transparent about everything and anything I’ve done both in and out of the ring. The one thing though, if you say, “Hey, how much of an actor were you [as a fighter]?”, I’m probably not as tough as I looked in the ring. Not to say that I was acting. But I was playing the role that I had to play in order to do what needed to be done. That was be intimidating; that was be in someone’s face; in their grill; really make them feel my presence and stop them from doing what they’re doing. But that’s not me outside of the ring. I’m very non-confrontational; I like to have a good time and make everybody smile. In the ring that helped give me that energy – knowing that people were going to be cheering and excited.
I was blessed to be able to start broadcasting right before I retired. There was maybe one or two quiet months since I retired, so it’s been a really smooth, easy transition.
BN: What’s the closest you’ve come to returning?
[Starts laughing] It just happened very, very recently. I’m like, “I’ve got so far to go to get ready for a fight I don’t think this is going to be happen”. I won’t say who it was. I’ll say two things. One, I told my wife if I fought again it had to be this year – if I don’t fight before December 2023 I will never get in a boxing ring again. Two, I don’t know how serious this guy is, and between not knowing how serious he is and knowing how serious I have to get in order to make this happen, I don’t know, man. There’s no telling.
You can’t be out of the ring for more than a year and expect to be who you’ve been, and it’s almost two years. I’m staying strong from a standpoint of my health, but you’re talking about reflexes; that eye; about having that blood boil at that level and all those small things that people don’t know about. Those are the things I’m more concerned with than hitting somebody or getting hit by somebody else. I would not come back at 147lbs. I probably wouldn’t come back at 154lbs [laughs].
Right after retirement I was hearing things [about offers to fight] until the middle of 2022, and then that kind of dissipated. My dad – we had a couple of conversations, and it was more me convincing him, “Hey, I’m done – this isn’t happening anymore”.
BN: Are you financially secure enough to not to need to fight again?
I should be. I better be. I feel comfortable. With retiring, and being as busy as I am, I’m doing everything that I wanted to do, but we do have to be realistic and say, “Hey, I’m going to be on this earth another 30, 40, 50 years”, and I have my children [five-year-old son Shaddai; three-year-old son Adonai; Porter is married to wife Julia] and those that come behind them and I wanna be able to make sure that I have generational wealth. I’m not relying on everything from boxing to keep me until I’m done, but I’m definitely making sure I have other things in line so that I can continue to prosper. I tell people I’m going to make more money after boxing than the entire time I fought.
BN: Your former opponent Kell Brook recently told Boxing News about his struggles with retirement…
It really didn’t resonate with me because we’re two different people. The most recent story about Jared Anderson not loving boxing and not wanting to do it – I’m like, “So what, he doesn’t like boxing? Who gives a damn? He’s a great athlete – this is the sport that he chose to become a professional in. Stop giving him heat about it”. I’m another fighter that just did not love boxing. I knew what I was after and I had my goals – once those goals had been accomplished I’m good and I’m done. I’m going to move on and have some fun.
The thing for Kell was he didn’t really have a game plan – and take a look at how his career went. He had some turns in his career that he didn’t expect. I didn’t have any of those turns. Even with the fights that I lost – they weren’t terrible losses. On top of it all, his career not going the exact way that he expected and wanted it to go – that’s what made it hard for him, post-retirement. I’m happy that he got someone in his life that could help him through those things. My advice would be, “Find some things that you love to do – replace boxing”. That’s what we all have to do.
Absolutely [it made me sad]. Even as a life coach I don’t know exactly what my space is – I thought about reaching out to him. But it was like, “Hey – you’re a former opponent. You’re eight hours’ time difference. You’re never going to have a face to face. How much can you truly help?” Maybe I talked myself out of it – intimidated myself about the situation. But I definitely wanted to help him, and I’ve of course text him and wished him well.
I have reached out to Jared Anderson. We all have negative thoughts. We all have negative self-talk. You have to defeat those negative thoughts with positive thinking and positive speaking. That’s the number one thing. People close to him – if you know he’s dealing with these things, get someone in his life who can help him deal with these things and stop trying to fight it. That’s what fighters do. We don’t look for help – we just try to fight through everything and when we can’t fight through it we ignore it until it’s the size of a gorilla on our back and it’s too late.
BN: Would you have done anything differently in your career?
Yeah, to be honest with you. One of the things I started to do later in my career – I took control of my career. I took control of who I was. I started to really be myself and express what I wanted; when I wanted it; how I wanted it. That’s advice I give fighters now – speak up. Say what you want. Don’t back down from it, and eventually they gotta answer to what you want. “They work for you. You don’t work for them.”
BN: How good is Crawford?
Just as good if not better than he was [previously]. “Boots” [Jaron Ennis] is becoming the best fighter in the world. [Gervonta] “Tank” Davis is the most electrifying fighter in the world. The winner between Terence and Errol [Spence] will determine who the best fighter in the world is.
Crawford is a fighter. He has the ability to do whatever it takes to win a fight; to win a boxing match. I’ll use me as an example. Really good fighter; really good athlete. People thought they were watching someone mean and gritty – you were actually just watching an athlete box. I’m an athlete who learned how to box. Crawford is a fighter who learned how to box. The difference between me and Crawford is Crawford knows how to do whatever it takes to win a fight. I’m Xs and Os; I’m doing by the book; what was taught to me; nothing more, nothing less. Crawford’s going to change from orthodox to southpaw; if he’s gotta get dirty he’s going to hit you low; whatever he’s got to do to win a fight, he knows how to do that. Those aren’t things that are taught to you – you’re born with that – that’s the fighter in you. It comes out live in action on fight night.
When I reflect on my fight with Crawford I definitely get a little down on myself, knowing that, psychologically, emotionally and mentally I went into that ring not as strong as I hoped that I was. Certainly not in the same space that I was when I fought Errol. [I was] going through some things – and unlike years previous I didn’t handle them as well as I could have and should have. It showed up in those knockdowns. [But, he impressed me] a lot.
BN: How good is Errol Spence?
Errol’s better in 2023 than he was in 2019 when we fought. He’s matured – even from a standpoint of just knowing who he is as a fighter. He’s much stronger. Much more everything than he was when we fought. It’s perfect timing [for them to fight at their collective peak].
They’ve [Spence’s career-threatening injuries] have helped him. Having that traumatic situation happen to him allowed him to let go of some of the things that he was doing and helped him grow. That [car] accident took out his teeth; took some time away from him inside the ring. But what it couldn’t take from him is he’s a born fighter. Just like Crawford. That’s why this fight’s 50/50. That’s why this is the best fight to be made in boxing. You wanted this fight three years ago – this is the best time for this fight to be made.
In 2019 when I fought Errol it was actually the opposite [to how impressed I was when I fought Crawford]. I wasn’t impressed when I fought Errol. Coming out of the ring with Terence it was, “He’s the real deal – he’s everything I thought he was, and I just witnessed it first hand”. There was one moment that happened in that fight [with Spence] that separated the winner from the loser in that one, and I don’t think I’d be where I am had I won that fight. My life would have taken some other turns and I might not be exactly where I am right now. I’m a star among boxing fans, but I can still go to the mall by myself; I can go out to eat with my family; I can get on planes by myself. To be at the top but not continue to have to live as someone who is expected to live at the top – that gave everybody a great taste of who I was inside the ring.
[Spence is] big for the weight class [147lbs], and really, really strong, too. That’s the separation between him and just about everybody else that I fought. He won’t break down. He’s big; he’s strong. He can wear the punishment, and he can give it as well. That’s what makes him so great. [He’s] like a crash-test dummy.
BN: Who wins, and how?
You put a gun to my head, and you tell me to pick someone, I’ll tell you, “I’ll close my eyes – turn me in a circle, and whoever I’m pointing at, that’s who’s going to win this fight”. I truly don’t know who’s going to win. I think that we need – the world needs – three rounds to even have a good idea of who’s going to win this fight. Those three rounds you see game plan. You see adjustment. And then you see another adjustment. So it’s going to take three rounds for us to even have a small clue as to who’s going to win the fight.