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.
When the dust settled this past Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, Floyd Mayweather Jr. left the ring the same way that he entered; as an undefeated fighter who most people don’t like. And just like the majority of Mayweather’s recent fights, his opponent was the fan favorite. For some people, Manny Pacquiao represented everything that is good and wholesome. And after the fight this past Saturday between the two best welterweights of this era that had been put on the back burner for the past six years, we were able to see them in the same ring as Mayweather emerged with his hand raised in victory. And for those folks that expected to see a slugfest between Pacquiao and Mayweather, they must’ve not paid attention to the previous 47 professional fights that Mayweather participated in.
The MGM Grand was electric at the start of the fight as the crowd oohed and awed at every punch that was delivered from Pacquiao. Everytime that Pacquiao landed a flurry, Mayweather would grab, hold, and kill his momentum like he generally does when he is trouble. Each time that Mayweather would grab Pacquiao, the crowd would show their disdain for the undefeated welterweight. Pacquiao did have moments in the fight where he did have Mayweather in trouble, but nothing that was setup to do real damage. And when it was all over, it appeared to be another boring fight and a waste of money for the folks who watched it in person or bought the pay-per-view. But for Mayweather it was just a typical day at the office.
Mayweather has never and will never be a fighter that stands in the middle of the ring and trades punches with his opponent. If Mayweather was a National Football League team, he would be extremely boring to watch because he would consistently win games by the score of 16-10. Scores like that won’t sell tickets in the NFL, but it does in boxing because of the character that is Mayweather. Mayweather is good at what he does and he doesn’t have a problem telling people about it whether they want to hear it or not. Mayweather doesn’t have a problem being the villain as he knows that most people want to see him taste defeat which is a good reason why the atmosphere tends to be crazy around his bouts.
In 2005, Mayweather would defeat fan favorite Arturo Gatti to win the WBC Junior Welterweight Championship. And when Mayweather fought Zab Judah in 2006 for the vacant IBF and IBO Welterweight Titles, you knew that the winner of that bout would see their boxing career take off as Mayweather was the one that would emerge victorious. When Mayweather defeated the “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, it marked a changing of the guard as far as who was now boxing’s biggest box-office attraction and Mayweather hasn’t looked back since. In the aftermath of not fighting Pacquiao, Mayweather would take the time to meet Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in the ring in September 2013. Alvarez was De La Hoya’s protege and he carried the mantle for everyone that wanted to see Mayweather fall. But Alvarez’s hopes just like the previous 44 opponents that touched gloves with Mayweather before him were dashed as the cagey veteran was too much for the young lion.
Mayweather promotes his own fights as he only answers to Al Haymon and he doesn’t have a problem in letting the world know that he has the juice as it is all about “The Money Team”.
Leading up to the fight with Pacquiao, Mayweather wasn’t talking as much as he normally does and to some people he looked “scared”. But when the judges rendered the unanimous decision in Mayweather’s favor over Pacquiao, the outspoken one didn’t have any problem letting everyone in attendance at the MGM Grand know that he won in spite of the fact that they wanted him to lose.
Now, Mayweather has let it be known that he intends to relinquish all of his belts and he only has one more bout in the works for this September before he intends to call it a career. Recently Mayweather has begun to talk like a man that is onto the next chapter of his life. And in the sport of boxing, it is tough to remain the king of the mountain when you begin to focus on things outside of the ring. Mayweather will never be the people’s champion as some folks feel that he handpicks his opponents along with the fact that he isn’t a toe-to-toe brawler. The criticism doesn’t hurt Mayweather one bit as he has laughed all the way to the bank as he’ll easily clear $100 million for this past Saturday’s meeting with Pacquiao. One more victory on the part of Mayweather will tie him with Rocky Marciano to the greatest start to a professional boxing career and whether it is voluntary or involuntary, he won’t surpass the former Heavyweight Champion with a 50th victory. Mayweather’s last 13 professional fights have all taken place on the Vegas strip and just like any good show there, it is time for the curtain to come down. However the star of this show has turned into the ultimate villain and for Mayweather, he wouldn’t like it any other way.
So now the boxing match that the world has wanted to see is finally coming to fruition. The two best welterweight fighters of this era have been Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pacquiao and Mayweather will now meet on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in what should be the biggest purse in the history of the sport of boxing. Six years of on-again, off-again negotiations between Mayweather’s camp and Pacquiao’s representatives are a thing of the past now as it is finally time to determine who is the best welterweight of this era. Aside from fragile negotiations, it was mainly the overall politics that have deprived boxing fans from seeing this long awaited super fight.
Part of the initial holdup was over drug testing as Mayweather wanted Pacquiao to submit to Olympic-style drug testing. Olympic-style drug testing would mean that Pacquiao would be subject to random testing leading up to the fight. This became an issue as Mayweather has long suspected Pacquiao of using performance-enhancing drugs due to the fact that the Filipino born fighter maintained tremendous punching power and speed in spite of the fact that he moved up into different weight classes. Mayweather’s public criticism of Pacquiao led to a lawsuit on Pacquiao’s part which led to both sides settling out of court in 2012. Then there was the haggling over the money for the bout as Mayweather wanted a bigger cut. And once you factor in that Mayweather no longer likes to do business with Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum, this fight was put of the back burner for far too long.
So instead of seeing Mayweather and Pacquiao clash a few years ago, we instead had to watch each pugilist showcase their talents against someone else. Since the negotiations went south in 2009, Pacquiao lost two fights: once to Timothy Bradley and a technical knockout at the hands of his longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez. Mayweather on the other hand has been able to keep his unblemished record intact which has been highlighted by him schooling Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2013. But for both Mayweather and Pacquiao, it is becoming extremely difficult for each of them expect the viewing public to fork over $60-$70 dollars for each of their pay-per-view matches where you typically know what the outcome will be before the fighters touch gloves. Boxing fans were not interested in seeing Pacquiao fight Marquez for a fifth time and they weren’t going to break their necks to see Mayweather take on Amir Khan or touch gloves with Miguel Cotto again which means that it is time for these two to get it on.
Subsequently Pacquiao has agreed to all of the terms that Mayweather wanted. Pacquiao is on board with the drug testing as well as taking 40 percent of the purse as opposed to Mayweather’s 60 percent. Pacquiao will be the first fighter to hit the ring and the bout will take place in Mayweather’s backyard of Las Vegas. The buildup to this fight will be immense as tickets sold out in a matter of minutes when the fight was announced and you can expect a who’s who from the entertainment world to be in attendance that Saturday night in May. Being that Mayweather has an exclusive contract to fight on Showtime while Pacquiao is with HBO, both networks will work together to show the pay-per-view extravaganza which could cost fight fans $100 dollars to view.
For Muhammad Ali to earn the mantle of being “The Greatest”, he needed Joe Frazier. And when the 1980’s became the golden era of the middleweight division, Sugar Ray Leonard needed Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, and Marvelous Marvin Hagler to bring out the best in him. Come May it will be the punching power of Pacquiao versus the speed and craftiness of Mayweather. The people that want to see the cocky Mayweather served a slice of humble pie will undoubtedly be rooting for Pacquiao while the fans of “Money” want to see the unblemished record remain intact. Pacquiao is 36-years old while Mayweather will turn 38 tomorrow. But the age of both fighters shouldn’t prevent us from witnessing a good bout. Sometimes good things come to those who wait and in this case fight fans are finally getting what they have wanted for a very long time.