Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter is a match-up that has been talked for years. After much delay, it’s finally two weeks away from happening.
Welterweight has been boxing’s staple division in at least the last decade. That’s because this generation’s most iconic fighters-Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, used to reside and rule here. We said “used to” because both have recently retired. And with their retirement, the 147 pound throne is now vacant but with a long list of worthy successors. Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter are two of them.
Thurman won the interim WBA welterweight title with a KO win over Diego Gabriel Chaves in July 2013. Later that year, Porter won the IBF version of the title with a 12 round win over Devon Alexander. Since capturing gold, both saw their careers head to different directions. Thurman has gone on to defend his title five times, getting promoted to full champion status after his third successful title defense. On the other hand, Porter lost his belt to Kell Brook during his 2nd title defense. But he’s come back stronger, winning two in a row including his career-defining win over Adrien Broner in June 2015. Porter’s triumph over Broner has put him back on the map and it has led to this.
What makes Thurman-Porter a hit isn’t just the implications it has in the 147 pound division but also the storied history between these two fighters. Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter have known each since their amateur days. Now they will be putting their friendship aside for one night only, to determine who is the better fighter inside the ring. Said Thurman during the bouts kickoff presser in April:
“Our two teams go way back. This is the most beautiful moment of my professional career, and I’m about to compete with somebody I grew up with. I’m happy for my success, and I’m happy for Shawn’s success. We come from the same boat. When you’re a young kid in the gym training, and then you’re here today, that takes a special kind of person. Shawn and I are both that kind of person.”
Their trainers also come from the same boat. Porter’s father-trainer Kenny, credits Thurman’s trainer Dan Birmingham for being his mentor:
“Dan Birmingham is actually one of my mentors, and I’ve been watching Keith since he was 14 years old. 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.”
And explosion could be an understatement. This is the biggest welterweight match since Mayweather-Pacquiao. It has all the ingredients to redeem the weight class from that dud of a fight. For one both fighters are in their primes. They are also hungry for success and superstardom. More importantly, they have styles that have the makings of a match made in heaven. Porter is the relentless aggressor known as “Showtime”, a smaller man who uses pressure and volume to overwhelm his opponents. Thurman is the cool and calculated assassin whose nickname “One-Time” was a by product of his knockout prowess. When Showtime and One-Time collide, that’s going to be pretty special.
Thurman promises to be the first man to knock Porter out:
“We’ve always known that Shawn Porter was going to come into this fight in tremendous shape. That’s what his training methods are all about. But the Energizer Bunny has never been hit by Keith Thurman, and I’m pretty sure I could stop it in its tracks. I’m going for the knockout. I’ve stated it before. My hands are itching for a knockout. I’m ‘One Time,’ all the time. That’s my philosophy. Every single time I step into the ring I’m looking for the knockout. We don’t get paid for overtime.”
Porter countered Thurman:
“I doubt Keith’s seen anyone as young and energetic with my combination of quickness and speed. Can Keith be a warrior and match my punch output and go toe to toe, heart for heart? I have more of what it takes to be a champion than Keith does.”
Power vs Speed. But isn’t speed power too in boxing? That’s why this fight can never go wrong.
So after a lengthy negotiation and a car accident involving Thurman last March, they will finally get it on. Thurman promises a war:
“I made you wait. But it’s worth it. This is a tremendous fight, arguably the best matchup of the year. We’re going to work our butts off to make it the fight of the year.”
Porter agrees with his opponent:
“This fight with Keith is happening at the right time. It’s a big fight in the division given all of the [147-pound] matchups happening this year. I’m looking forward to it, and I know I’m ready for it.”
Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, we’re also ready guys. In fact, we can no longer wait.