In the strangeness that is professional boxing, often the cream of the crop grow up in the amateurs as friends and teammates only to eagerly meet up in the professional arena later as the fiercest of adversaries.
Such will be the case when Keith Thurman (26-0, 22KOs) and Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16KOs) face either other on June 25, 2016 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for their CBS prime time battle for Thurman’s WBA World Welterweight Title.
While Thurman was a little more generous towards Porter in this respect, recounting how they had both broken bread in the past and met one another’s parents during various camps and international competitions, Porter as the challenger for Thurman’s belt, was a little less touchy feely.
“Keith and I are friends, but we’re not best pals. We’re not besties. If I needed help, he’d probably be the tenth, fifteenth or twentieth person I would call on the list,” recounted Porter dourly.
Nevertheless, much has been made of many atypical issues surrounding this fight at 147.
With the recent passing of legendary Greatest of All Time boxer Muhammad Ali, this fight between Thurman and Porter will be the first live televised prime time fight on CBS since Ali lost his heavyweight title in a 15 round split decision upset to Leon Spinks on February 15, 1978.
In addition to this historical flourish, this weekend’s fight is a redo for a fight originally set for March 12, 2016 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Thurman and Porter were set to fight in Connecticut earlier this year until Thurman was involved in a car accident in February, suffering whiplash injuries to his neck when his air bag deployed.
While the seriousness of Thurman’s injuries were initially met with a hint of skepticism by the opposing camp, with the current fight now close on the horizon, it would seem that everyone is eager to see what most think will be a true test for both the undefeated Thurman.
Thurman had a less than stellar victory over a fighter that he was supposed to beat in former WBA World Welterweight Champion Luis Collazo (36-7, 19KOs), and challenger Shawn Porter, who after losing his IBF World Welterweight title and undefeated status to Britain’s Kell Brook (36-0, 25KOs) in 2014 is now on a winning streak after defeating Adrien Broner (32-2, 24KOs) in his second straight victory since June 2015.
When it comes to the very palpable but burdensome expectations from both fans and boxing pundits alike that winner of this fight immediately and definitively fill the void left by the now retired Floyd Mayweather, Porter and Thurman appear to take a very different views on the task given their current places within the 147 pecking order.
“This fight has been in my mind for a number of years,” said Porter. “I’ve been thinking that this fight would happen eventually and it was a fight that I wanted to happen. I’m all about being the guy that is considered the guy. I’m all about being the number 1,” stated Porter.
As for Thurman, his view was more about seeing the entire forest along with the closest trees.
“I’m a big fan of what I call the Mayweather shadow. Mayweather’s legacy has cast a shadow over the 147 division and the real issue is that Mayweather was at the top for over a decade,” mused Thurman.
“Yeah, I would love to get through Danny Garcia and solidify more of the debate of the best at 147 but to see the best at 147, it’s going to take a little bit of time,” continued Thurman adding, “you need to really see who is going to be the top dog for the nest three to five years and then you got a king. But the king needs to rule. Kings don’t come up and come down and do this and that. Kings rule.”
However, when it comes to both Thurman and Porter’s ability to thoroughly enjoy destroying one another this weekend in order to assume the path towards becoming the 147lb division’s heir apparent, both seem to welcome the task with open arms – irrespective of the past or the future.
“He is in the way of my dreams and I’m in the way of his dreams but it’s still a very fun process, ” said Thurman, adding genuinely, “to have a rival be so personal and somebody that you really know and that you’re been cheering for – the 25th is the only day that I’m not allowed to cheer for Shawn Porter.”