People say that boxing is the sport of ultimate sacrifice. On June 25, two of boxings brightest young stars put aside a long standing friendship for the chance to be recognized as top dog in the sports deepest division. The winner of the highly anticipated fight between Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16 ko’s) and Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 ko’s) will likely gain national prestige and a consistent stream of seven figure paydays. The loser heads to the back of a line that consists of killers such as Danny “Swift” Garcia, Timothy Bradley, Errol Spence, Jesse Vargas and Andre Berto to name a few. High stakes boxing at its finest at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with Thurman’s WBA portion of the Welterweight crown on the line.
The CBS network will broadcast this Premier Boxing Champions special event live in prime time. This will mark to first time CBS airs boxing in prime time since 1978 when Leon Spinks won the Heavyweight title from Muhammed Ali in a massive upset.
Many boxing fans and insiders are calling this contest the best bout of a stacked summer lineup. If the media suggestions are sincere, the love build between the two pals who often trained together in their amateur days is out the window. Both fighters are talking like they want to knock the others head off to secure their spot in the sports upper echelon. If all goes according to the script, we could be in for a classic.
This match has been a long time coming. The two fighters were originally scheduled to face off in March of this year at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. A stroke of bad luck caused the postponement when Thurman suffered microtears in the tendons of his neck as a result of a car accident weeks before the bell was set to sound. After a two months of doctor ordered rest, “One Time” has been fully cleared to resume boxing activities.
Even with full medical clearance, one has to wonder if such a harsh injury will have have a lasting effect on Thurman’s ability to take a punch. Las Vegas oddsmaker do not think so, labeling Thurman as a 2-to-1 betting favorite as of press time.
Thurman, a 27-year-old lifelong resident of Clearwater Florida, agrees with the bookmakers Assesment of the fight. “I’m excited to be getting ready to take out Shawn Porter,” says Thurman, the 2015 Premier Boxing Champions Fighter of the Year. “I am ready to get back in the ring and bring boxing fans what they’ve been looking for: the top true welterweight champion of the world, the one who is going to take out all competitors one by one. I’m going to show you what a champion looks like.”
To prepare or the bout, Thurman has been sparring with the likes of Edner Cherry and Clarence Booth at the St. Pete Boxing club in South Florida. Thurman is trained by Dan Birmingham, a trainer who helped former world champions Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, “Bad” Chad Dawson and Ronald “Winky” Wright win in the past.
Porter, the 28-year-old from Akron Ohio likes he chances in this fight. He recently went on record to say “I’m very confident in my ability. That’s why I’ve been looking forward to this fight, because I’m someone who can beat Keith Thurman. Nothing about Keith really makes me nervous.”
“I do know that he’s going to be ready for this fight. He’s a fighter who has the heart of a lion just like I do. I expect this to be a fight to the finish. A win over Keith Thurman is what we’ve been waiting for.”
While Thurman is the prospect turned contender who never had much of a hiccup, Porter is a fighter who seems to have been on the cusp for years but never broke through to the top level when opportunity knocked. Porter has some very good performances under his belt but also has a couple blemishes. He was saddled with a draw against faded veteran Julio “Kid” Diaz in 2012. Porter rebounded strong to win a fraction of the four piece Welterweight title from Devon Alexander in 2013.
The title reign didn’t last long. His lone career loss came in 2014 by way of majority decision to England’s Kell Brook, another strong player in the 147 pound division.
Porter is trained by his father Kenny Porter who has no other notable fighters under his tutelage. Ironically, Kenny Porter credits Dan Birmingham for helping him become a trainer. He recently told ESPN
“Dan Birmingham is actually one of my mentors, and I’ve been watching Keith since he was 14 years old,” Kenny Porter said. “We’re all friends, but to have the opportunity on this stage, I don’t think we can have better competitors as fighter and trainer. I don’t think it can reach a higher level. I fully expect the immovable object versus the irresistible force meeting in the ring for an explosion on June 25.”
They say that styles make fights – and these two contrast just enough to assure that things will be interesting. Thurman doesn’t seem to have much of an inside game, and Porter is a smaller fighter who does his best work when entrenched inside of an opponents ribs. Over the years he has chopped down fighters such as Paulie Malignaggi, Erick Bone and Julio Diaz in their rematch.
On this flip side, Thurman is outstanding from a distance. He is tremendous at picking spots to land a big shot and then quickly getting out of harms way before fire is returned. He has never truly been tagged in a pro fight, but some experts see this style as a cover up for a potentially faulty chin and lack of tolerance for extended punishment.
Being the taller fighter in this bout, some feel Thurman’s long jab will keep a charging Porter at bey. Porter also has a tendency to get greedy. Being sloppy against the division’s hardest puncher could level to be a fatal mistake. Thurman has left B level fighters such as Jesus Soto Karass, Julio “Kid” Diaz and Carlos Quintana out for the count on his way up the ranks. He has yet to do such a thing against a prime contender.
Vegas likes Thurman but I see it as a true pick ’em. Most will be watching at home. I’ll be making the trip to Brooklyn for a spot in press row to cover he world class action.
On the undercard, three division world champion Abner Mares will face Jesus Cuellar for the WBA fraction of the featherweight title. Lou DiBella will serve as the promoter of record.
Tell us what you think about this bout that is likely to crack the million viewer mark?