Shawn Porter is a once-beaten former 147-pound titleholder. Keith Thurman is an undefeated 147-pound champion who has defended his crown five times. So the fact Thurman is a sizable favorite heading into his long-awaited showdown with Porter on June 25 is easy to understand.
Unless, of course, you’re Shawn Porter.
“I doubt Keith’s seen anyone as young and energetic with my combination of quickness and speed,” said Porter, a 28-year-old native of Akron, Ohio, who makes his home in Las Vegas. “Can Keith be a warrior and match my punch output and go toe to toe, heart for heart?
“I have more of what it takes to be a champion than Keith does.”
Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) certainly looked like a champ in his last fight nearly a year ago, upsetting former four-time world titleholder Adrien Broner by 12-round unanimous decision in Las Vegas. Except for one careless moment when he got caught and dropped early in Round 12, Porter dominated Broner, who spent as much time holding as he did fighting.
By virtue of that victory on June 20, Porter—who won a 147-pound title in June 2013 and successfully defended it twice before a majority-decision loss to Kell Brook in August 2014—finds himself back in the thick of what has become a hotly contested weight class.
In addition to undefeated champions Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs), Brook and Danny Garcia, the division features the likes of Porter, Broner, Andre Berto, Amir Khan, Lamont Peterson, Robert Guerrero, Timothy Bradley Jr. and Jessie Vargas—all of whom have held world titles at 135, 140 and/or 147 pounds—as well as rapidly rising contenders Errol Spence Jr. and Konstantin Ponomarev.
“ Can Keith be a warrior and match my punch output and go toe to toe, heart for heart? I have more of what it takes to be a champion than Keith does. ” Shawn Porter on upcoming opponent Keith Thurman
The winner of the Thurman-Porter clash from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (CBS, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) will likely be recognized as the lead dog in the race to unify a division that in recent years was dominated by the retired (for now) Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
“It’s like an unspoken tournament: One guy moves on and continues fighting other guys who have titles or a big name,” Porter said. “Sooner or later there’s going to be that one guy who has that straight lineage.”
Porter has no doubts he will one day be that guy, but he understands to get there will take precision in the ring and patience outside of it. And it all starts with getting the best of his longtime friend Thurman on June 25.
“This fight with Keith is happening at the right time,” Porter said. “It's a big fight in the division given all of the [147-pound] matchups happening this year. I’m looking forward to it, and I know I’m ready for it.”
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