In one of the greatest boxing matches in recent memory, Keith Thurman beat Shawn Porter by unanimous decision at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday to retain the WBA welterweight championship.
This wasn’t Thurman’s first title defense, but it may have been his most memorable.
“Oh, yes,” Thurman said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It was the biggest stage, the biggest platform. I’m fighting a colleague of mine, somebody that I grew up in the sport with, somebody that I knew very well, somebody that I knew was going to test me to the fullest and (try) to take that title. The arena and the energy was so great.”
The fight, originally scheduled for March, was pushed back after Thurman’s February car accident and aired on CBS. It was the first time CBS showed a boxing match in prime time since Leon Spinks upset Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight championship in 1978.
Thurman/Porter, as it turns out, was worth the wait.
“Obviously we put on one of the best fights of the year,” Thurman said. “I have so many people just loving the fight, telling me how excited it was to watch. They’re congratulating me. Some people are telling me that they didn’t know what to think about boxing at this time and now they’ve fallen back in love with it. Those are the things that I like to hear. I believe that this last Saturday night was a historical moment for myself and my career, but for all of boxing and the sport in general. It was a very beautiful night of boxing.”
Thurman, 27, landed 235 of 539 (43.6 percent) punches, while Porter landed 236 of 662 (35.6 percent). While Porter had one more hit, Thurman’s were cleaner.
“I don’t know exactly what it is about Shawn, but he has a habit of his punches not being the most effective,” Thurman said. “They’re not the cleanest. I knew that it was going to be hard for him to break that habit coming into this fight. I knew all I had to do was use my defense, stay poised, and land clean, effective blows. We trained for it, I’ve been practicing it, short little uppercuts on the inside – I expected that aggressive nature. And due to that aggressive nature, I knew that he was going to find himself time and time again in the line of fire. It was just about me capitalizing and not getting caught with major punches in the process.”
Porter, though, did cut Thurman midway through the fight. It was the first cut of Thurman’s career.
“I saw the blood. I tried not to worry about it,” Thurman said. “It kind of got into my eye a little bit and (caused) my left eye to have very blurry vision – similar to when you’re driving in the rain and your windshield wipers aren’t quite on yet. At one point, I was fighting half of that round with only one eye. When I got back in the corner, my cut man tok care of the situation, I had both eyes clear vision for the rest of the fight, and I was able to just stay poised and do what I needed to do to get that victory and stay champion.”
With the win, Thurman improved to 27-0, while Porter fell to 26-2-1.
Thurman thought he almost had a knockout several times during the fight, as Porter’s knees buckled a bit on certain punches.
“I wanted to follow up. It just wasn’t there,” Thurman said. “He survived the storm. I knew that with him (I just had to) keep pressing, pressing, pressing. There were going to be plenty of opportunities to trade and land big shots. There was, but he never went down. He’s a true champion himself.”