Shawn Porter's will to push forward made him the glue guy at 147

Shawn Porter defeated Danny Garcia in 2018 to win the WBC welterweight belt. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Shawn Porter is in a story-telling mood. And at first, this one has nothing to do with boxing.

When Shawn Porter was around 10 years old, he was playing running back in a football game as his father, Kenny, coached on the sideline. On one play, a defender leveled Shawn, knocking him into the air and spilling him onto the sideline. Shawn smiled.

Well, not for long. Shawn recalled how Kenny picked him up by the shoulder pads, and yelled instructions at him that has stuck with him until this day -- "Tell him to bring it some more," Shawn recalled.

When Porter is done telling the story, it's clear why he'll be in the ring this Saturday against undefeated welterweight Terence "Bud" Crawford (9 p.m. ESPN+ PPV), who has long been considered one of the best fighters in the world.

Porter has always shown a willingness to take on the biggest names in the welterweight division throughout his career. In many ways, he has been the proverbial "glue guy" for Premier Boxing Champions and the entire 147-pound weight class.

It's not by accident. It's the only way Porter knows how to operate.

"It's like it's a part of my makeup," Porter told ESPN. "It's like who I am. The only thing that I know is, 'Who's the target, who's the best? Go get him.'"

The most defining element of this current welterweight era is the inability for the best fight to get made -- Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) against fellow undefeated champion Errol Spence Jr. During a virtual news conference last week, Crawford said that the fight he has pursued for so long is behind him, as all efforts to this point have been futile.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, after Saturday's fight, Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs) will have fought all three current welterweight champions as of Saturday -- Crawford, Spence and Yordenis Ugas, with the latter representing Porter's lone win to date against that trio to date. And a lot of that has to do with an unflinching determination that his opponents can recognize.

"Shawn Porter is no 'pick 'em' type of fighter," Crawford said. "He'll fight anybody and it's been proven that he'll fight anybody. That's pretty much how you sum up who he's been fighting, because he's been fighting all the top welterweights in the division."

Porter's alignment with Premier Boxing Champions has unquestionably helped him secure big fights. Crawford, who is in the last fight of his contract with Top Rank Promotions, is facing a PBC fighter for the first time since his run in the 147-pound division.

But the matchmaking is also a manifestation of the aggressive style that has flustered opponents throughout his career. Porter recalled back to his first amateur fight as an 8-year-old, when Kenny Porter told him he needed to throw punches "until they cut the lights off" in order to ensure victory.

Over time, as father and son barnstormed the country, climbed the amateur ranks and then set off on a successful pro career, that aggressiveness has been Porter's calling card. It has also made him a fan-friendly fighter and one who will always put on a good show.

"It's almost like it's two-fold, man," Porter said. "It's the automatic weapon to entertain fans but it's also the automatic weapon to be successful in the ring."

That approach was also Porter's downfall in his 2014 loss to Kell Brook, who is the only other fighter to face both Spence and Crawford. Brook used Porter's aggression against him as he handed the Ohio native his first professional loss.

That was probably the best version of Brook, who hasn't quite been the same since he suffered a severe eye injury in a loss against Gennady Golovkin in 2016. In his most recent fight, one year ago this week against Brook, Crawford only needed four rounds to dispatch him by TKO.

"I know people like to make the comparison between us fighting him and Terence fighting him (in 2020)," said Kenny Porter, who still trains Shawn. "I believe that when we fought him, he was a different fighter."

The tough fights through Porter's career has instilled confidence and a deep bank of experiences he can pull from in critical moments. He has also faced virtually every style one can see -- an aspect he believes will give him an edge against Crawford.

A win would seal Porter's status as one of the best welterweights in his era, not just a guy who has been willing to fight the best. But while the former is up for debate, there's no question about the latter.

Said Porter: "As I've gotten older and people are saying, 'Well, you just fight everybody, why do you do that?' I'm like, 'This is what boxing is. This is what you're supposed to do, right?'"

At his core, Porter is still that running back who is comfortable lowering his shoulder, plowing through whomever is in his way. That means taking on Crawford in another seek-and-destroy mission that has made him unique for his era.

"You're looking at Bud and Bud's the 'boogeyman,'" Porter said, using his fingers to mimic air quotes at the end of that phrase. "Or Bud's the guy that no one can beat, is the most feared and the most avoided and all this and that.

"I'm the kid on the sidelines that just got hit and I'm like, 'OK, who's next? Where is he? Here I come.'"