The meeting between Andre Berto and Shawn Porter will be far from conventional this Saturday night.
We’re more than two weeks away from a big boxing clash between WBA Welterweight Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman and “Showtime” Shawn Porter. The fight will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York in what stands to define the careers of each pugilist to this point of their respective careers. Both Thurman and Porter are friends, but they are putting that aside for a payday along with the chance to move up the ladder in the stacked welterweight division. Thurman comes in with a record of 26-0 with one no contest, while Porter will climb into the ring on June 25 with a mark of 26-1-1. And Porter’s one loss was a controversial one as he lost a majority decision to Kell Brook in August 2014 which resulted in the Brook taking the IBF Welterweight Title back to the United Kingdom with him. Each fighter will bring sparkling records to Brooklyn with them, but pretty soon it will be time to put the women and children to bed and get it on.
Both fighters will have to shake off some rust when they square off as this marks Thurman’s first boxing match in 11 months while it will be 370 days from Porter’s last encounter. This contest was scheduled to take place earlier this year until Thurman was involved in a car accident that pushed the fight back, but it will be well worth the wait.
Of Thurman’s 26 victories, 22 have come via the knockout with the last coming in December 2013 against Jesus Soto Karass. Since then the level of competition has increased and Thurman has continued to get his hand raised, but they have not been convincing victories. On March 7, 2015, Thurman scored a unanimous decision against Robert Guerrero. But Guerrero is a seasoned vet who made Thurman work for it as he simply was unable to put him away. However Thurman was dealt some punishment in the fight as well as he took Guerrero’s best combos and was able to stay on his feet.
On July 11, 2015, Thurman fought veteran Luis Collazo in what was expected to be a tuneup for a potential meeting with Porter. However where Thurman was looking to “show off” in front of his family and friends in Tampa, Florida, Collazo came to fight. And when Collazo caught Thurman with a vicious body shot that literally to the wind out of his sail, he was on his bicycle for the remainder of the contest. But Thurman would be bailed out when Collazo claimed to have developed a mysterious cut above his eye which forced him to not answer the bell for the eighth round, and subsequently the bout would be awarded to Thurman.
Overall Thurman has looked a bit lackluster in his last few contests, and if he does that against Porter, he could get his feelings hurt while waving farewell to his title.
At 5’7″, Porter might be slight in stature, but make no mistake about it that he has a brawler’s mentality. Of Porter’s 26 wins as a professional boxer, 16 have come by knockout with the last one coming in April 2014 which all but ended the career of Paulie Malignaggi. Thurman is the fighter who is nicknamed “One Punch”, but Porter is the boxer with more punching power who is looking to inflict punishment on his opponent.
Along with Malignaggi, Porter has victories under his belt against Devon Alexander and Adrien Broner as his punching power is always on the mind of his opponent.
What Thurman must do is find a way to use the ring to his advantage. Porter loves to crowd his opponent and cut off their ability to use the ring. And when Porter does that, he knows that he can unleash with a barrage of power punches. Thurman must find a way to frustrate Porter in the mode that Brook did as he simply grabbed and held Porter as much as possible which took away from his rhythm. Porter isn’t an unblemished fighter as he was knocked down by Broner as his aggressiveness can be used against him, but it is just a matter of Thurman harnessing it. Thurman might have to take some hits against Porter in order to get the effective punches that he’ll need to be victorious, but is he willing to take Porter’s punishment?
To me this contests will be reminiscent of a fight in 2006 between Floyd Mayweather and Zab Judah. Each fighter was at the point of his respective career where he would take the next step with a victory. And as Mayweather scored the unanimous decision over Judah, he would go on to make more money that any other fighter in the history of boxing, while Judah developed a reputation of never being able to win the big fight. So only time will tell what paths that Thurman and Porter will take after June 25, but the winner will definitely have the inside track to being the new king of the welterweight division.