Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter will square off at the Barclays Centers in Brooklyn on June 25, hellbent on knocking each other out. But on Tuesday, they dropped by CBS Sports Radio for a friendly discussion about the fight, which will be the first prime-time fight on CBS since Muhammad Ali beat Leon Spinks on Feb. 15, 1978.
“Oh man, it’s beautiful,” Thurman said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “This is a great fight – for myself, for the fans. But CBS, prime-time, the comeback of boxing on the network – Muhammad Ali is one of my favorite fighters of all time, one of the historians that really made the sport what it is today. So for me, it’s really just an honor and a blessing, and I’m prepared to put on a hell of a show.”
Thurman (26-0) will defend his WBA welterweight championship against Porter (26-1). Thurman is undefeated, has one no decision and has successfully defended his belt five times since winning it in 2013. Porter, meanwhile, is more than a capable challenger, one who has beaten the likes of Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner, among others.
Thurman, 27, and Porter, 28, were originally slated to meet in March, but Thurman was in a car accident a few weeks before the fight, which was pushed back to June.
Porter was asked if Thurman’s accident interfered with his preparation.
“It didn’t screw me up at all,” said Porter, whose only loss was a majority-decision setback against Kell Brook in August 2014. “You got to stay poised. I realized he had a situation going on, and to be honest with you, my first thought was, ‘Oh no, is he okay?’”
That’s right. Not “Oh, he must be scared of me.” But “Oh no, is he okay?”
“At the end of the day, this is how I described this fight,” Porter said. “You have two of the guys that are at the top of the division and also in their prime. So right now, you’re going to get the best of the best of the best of the best. Along with that, you have to remember we’re human just like anybody else. When he gets into a situation like that, I want to make sure the kid’s all right. Of course I want to put on a great fight. Of course I want to fight when I’m supposed to fight. But at the end of the day, I have to make sure this guy’s all right and that he’s healthy when we fight. The first thing I asked him today was, ‘Hey, man, how you doing? You feeling good? Everything’s good?’”
It is – now, anyway. Thurman, who was driving a Mustang Shelby GT350, lost control of his car in wet conditions. He hit the brakes – which is apparently not what you’re supposed to do when hydroplaning – and the car “spun like a top.”
“I felt like a ballerina turning slowly,” Thurman said. “Knowing boxing, I could see the collision before it happened. There was nothing I could do.”
Thurman may have been helpless in his car, but he’s been in complete control in the ring, beating several great fighters in recent bouts, including Robert Guerrero and Luis Collazo.
Porter, an Akron native, said the key to the fight will be getting “ready for the things that (Thurman) doesn’t show.”
“He’s very unpredictable at times in the ring,” Porter said. “He uses his feet to lure guys in. I admire that. I admire the way he baits guys in. That’s one thing that I know that I definitely have to be leery of. He’s going to try to bait me in.”
“I can be tricky,” Thurman interjected playfully.
“He can be tricky,” Porter said, chuckling. “Look at him. He prides himself on it. But I don’t fall for the tricks.”