SAN DIEGO, June 24, 2016 – It’s been over 40 years since CBS aired boxing on prime time television. The last fight on the network featured the late Muhammad Ali in his first bout against Leon Sprinks on February 15, 1978. Seventy million people watched the fight.
CBS brings boxing back Saturday, and while nothing short of the Super Bowl draws an audience of 70 million people anymore, the main event is worthy of attention among casual fight fans as well as serious boxing heads.
After a long, slow simmer of its own, top American welterweights Keith Thurman (26-0-1, 22 KOs) and Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) get their showdown, with the winner being able to claim the top spot in the division, as well as Thurman’s WBA world welterweight title.
Thurman and Porter have both been out of the ring nearly a year. Last July, Thurman won an eighth round TKO over a surprisingly strong Luis Collazo. Collazo quit on in his corner at the start of Round 8 due to damage from cuts over his right eye leaving him unable to see. It was a confused ending to a fight in which Thurman didn’t have the smooth sailing some observers predicted. In the fight, Collazo (36-6, 19 KOs) gave Thurman the toughest round of his career. In the fifth round, Collazo landed a textbook left hook to the body that doubled Thurman over. He got on his bicycle for the rest of the round and managed to make it out on his feet.
In June 2015, Porter dismantled Adrien Broner in a unanimous decision by dictating the pace of their fight, throwing and landing far more punches despite Broner’s clenching and holding. Porter came out of the fight with a good performance, looking sharp and ready for a new challenge.
The fight was announced in January for a March date. Then Thurman was banged up in a February 22 car accident in his brand new Shelby GT350, hurting his neck due to the impact of the airbag, which caused the fight to be postponed until Saturday. So this much anticipate fight got to be anticipated just a little bit longer.
It also meant Thurman and Porter had to put their personal friendship outside the ring aside a little longer. The two will be all business in the ring. Both are ambitious and both want to get to the top of the division ruled for so long by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Depending on the ranking system, Thurman is at the top of the division along with Britain’s Kell Brook. Porter, whose only loss came to Brook, is in the top five on every ranking system. For fans who only want to see the best fight the best, here you go.
Thurman is a thinking fighter in the ring. He will adjust to an opponent’s style. He’s got the power to deliver a knockout, but he’ll also box and show patience behind a jab if he needs to do it.
Porter can deliver just as wicked a punch as Thurman, but he’s willing to get down and dirty if necessary. His fights aren’t quite as “pretty” as Thurman’s, but if it results in a victory he doesn’t care.
Porter’s training habits are legendary. He is constantly in the gym with his trainer, father Kenny Porter, and walks around just a few workouts short of being ready for a fight. When this bout was postponed, Porter arranged to put on an exhibition style 12-round workout live on Facebook for fans to watch.
Porter says about his trainer/father, “My dad’s a hard person, and I’m the opposite, easygoing and more laid-back, like, ‘Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it. When you take a look at the history of boxing and some other father-son duos, the son is a hothead.
As part of his preparation, Porter gained insight from Collazo’s liver shot which hurt Thurman in his last fight, along with other opponents who have effectively worked Thurman to the body. This plays to Porter’s strength of working on the inside.
“We’ve seen the body punches that have landed on Keith Thurman, particularly the one that Luis Collazo landed. … Going to the body is essential,” Porter said. “If Keith’s willing to trade, then I expect to get the best of those exchanges.”
Thurman dismisses his friend’s approach. “I have an 81 percent knockout ratio and a 95 percent ratio on knockdowns. Shawn has a five percent chance of taking no critical damage,” said Thurman. “My hands are itching for a knockout every time I step into the ring. I’m ‘One Time’ all the time.”
Thurman sees weaknesses in Porter watching his bouts against Kell Brook and Adrien Broner, who dropped Porter with a left hook in the final round of a fight Porter easily won.“Porter got hit with one-twos by Brook and a lot of left hooks from Broner,” Thurman says. “We’ll be looking for those shots and uppercuts as he tries to come in and smother my punches.”
Who will prevail on Saturday? If Thurman comes in fully recovered from any injuries due to the auto accident and in good condition, he has the edge. Thurman has more sheer talent and power than Porter and can adjust his approach to deflect and disarm whatever is coming at him. But Porter has a good chance if he can wear Thurman out in an ugly, rough fight. If can avoid any serious damage by Thurman and work him to the body and sneak in well placed upper cuts once Thurman is hurting a little, he can pull out a decision.
Ringside Seat calls this one for Keith Thurman in a late round stoppage. No outright knockout of Porter, but a solid win keeping Thurman atop the division.
Bonus for fight fans: The referee assigned to this bout is the meme-worthy Steve Willis. Fans love his expressive face and intensity. Willis strikes the right balance between protecting the fighters while avoiding becoming part of the fight, making him one of the top referees working today.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2016 by Falcon Valley Group