Thurman, Porter finalize welterweight title bout March 12
Jan. 24, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter have been waiting to fight each other since their long-gone days as amateur boxers and occasional sparring partners. When the welterweight stars finally get in the ring March 12, they'll be under a prime-time network spotlight.
Thurman and Porter have agreed to fight for Thurman's WBA title, the boxers announced Saturday. After months of negotiations and mutual accusations of avoidance, the deal is done for one of the most attractive fights in a high-profile division long dominated by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
Thurman and Porter both have designs on becoming the top new star in the 147-pound class in the wake of Mayweather's retirement and Pacquiao's self-described probable retirement in April.
Judging by the intense stare-down in their first joint public appearance in downtown Los Angeles, the boxers realize their dream is one win away.
"When we faced off, I was just like, 'Ooooh, I need this,'" Porter said.
The fighters will meet at Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, and their bout will be televised on CBS by Showtime's boxing production crew. Showtime Sports executive vice president Stephen Espinoza believes it will be the first prime-time boxing event on CBS since 1978, when Muhammad Ali lost his heavyweight title to Leon Spinks.
"It's obviously the biggest fight of my career," Thurman said. "He has shown he's one of the best welterweights in the world. Every single time you see Shawn, he gives it all. He's not going to back down."
Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) has held a version of the WBA welterweight title since July 2013, defending it five times. He capably handled a significant step up in opposition quality during 2015, routing Robert Guerrero by decision and stopping veteran Luis Collazo after seven rounds.
Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) has been in major fights for years, and he won the IBF welterweight title by beating Devon Alexander in December 2013. He stopped veteran star Paulie Malignaggi in 2014, and he dominated Adrien Broner last July before surviving his first career knockdown in the 12th round to win a clear decision.
"I feel like the Adrien Broner fight actually closed some doors," Porter said, referring to the fear inspired by his powerful performance. "It was hard to make this fight (against Thurman). But now I'm focused on beating Keith."
Thurman and Porter both see the bout as a star-making opportunity on national television in a division that needs a new power alongside Timothy Bradley, who will fight Pacquiao on April 9.
"This is what we should want for our sport: The best fighting the best," Porter said. "We've just got to put it down, look impressive and win, and then the fame will take care of itself."
Porter lost his IBF title to Kell Brook in August 2014, dropping a hold-filled majority decision to the British challenger. Thurman watched that fight closely, but he has no intention of replicating Brook's cagey, tie-him-up tactics.
"The only thing I tie up is my shoes," Thurman said.