Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter and the Start of a New Era
By: Kirk Jackson
Finally, after talk and speculation, rescheduled dates and car accidents, we’ve arrived to the anticipated, precipice of warfare between the world’s top welterweights.
The battleground is The Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York.
The battle combatants; Keith “One Time” Thurman 26-0 (22 KO’s) and Shawn “Showtime” Porter 26-1-1 (16 KO’s).
This match-up brings much intrigue and can have a significant impact on the welterweight division. This is a fight that can get the ball rolling so to speak.
The welterweight division is stacked and fans are yearning for a series of fights to transpire, pitting the best against the best.
We recently witnessed the exit of two historically great welterweights, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Although it would not be a surprise if either Mayweather or Pacquiao suddenly decided to come back for another fight.
Omitting those two names, the division is stacked with a wealth of talent; WBC welterweight champion Danny Garcia, IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook, WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas, two division champion Robert Guerrero, three division champion Adrien Broner, two division champion Timothy Bradley, two division champion Amir Khan, undefeated contender Errol Spence and there’s a few other notable fighters in the division as well.
Of course we have two fighters leading the charge to represent the new welterweight era, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter.
Thurman is defending his WBA welterweight title and aiming to establish himself as the best fighter in the welterweight division.
Porter is seeking redemption from his defeat to Brook in the form of gaining another world title and wants to firmly plant his declaration as the division’s premier fighter.
Fitting this fight will be broadcasted across network television under the Premier Boxing Champions banner.
The odds makers regard this fight as a close to even match-up with Thurman slightly favored, as each fighter holds certain advantages and distinct styles.
According to a who’s who of the welterweight division, the fighter who will emerge victorious is a toss-up:
Robert Guerrero: “This is a fight the fans are going to love watching. Both Thurman and Porter bring exciting styles to the ring. I think if Porter can keep the fight on the inside he’ll have a better chance to come out victorious. But Keith Thurman is a very smart and powerful fighter and will make the right adjustments. I just think Thurman is going to outbox Porter. I’m picking Thurman to win by decision in a very tough fight.”
Danny Garcia: “I think this is a great matchup. Thurman has the boxing ability and the movement while Shawn Porter is the aggressor and he’s going to bring the heat. To be honest with you it’s a 50-50 fight, but I would give the edge to Keith Thurman by a very close decision.”
Kell Brook: “This is a great fight, one I can’t wait to watch. If Shawn can stick to his boxing I think he can become world champion again on points, but Keith is heavy-handed and he could walk Shawn onto one – it’s really a pick ’em fight for me.”
Errol Spence Jr.: “I think this is a great fight between young fighters with good skill. Shawn throws a lot of punches while Thurman is a boxer who can punch too. I know Shawn will be aggressive and it should make for a great fight. If Keith can box and keep Shawn Porter on the outside I see Keith Thurman winning. If Shawn stays on the inside and stays in the chest of Keith, I see him winning.”
Andre Berto: “Shawn is going to come, but I think Keith will be on his toes and box but also drop hard shots as well when Shawn comes in. Keith can be very versatile in there and has a lot of great skills, while Shawn is more like a bull. Keith will hurt or knock Shawn down but will keep coming all night.’’ (Source USA Today).
Porter possesses the frame of a well-conditioned football player; resembling a short, stocky, rugged linebacker. His style of fighting plays off of that distinction, as he likes to blitz his opponents with aggression, utilizing his physical prowess and peak conditioning to overwhelm his opponents.
Despite standing the same height as Thurman and possessing a slight reach advantage, Porter prefers to fight in the trenches and that is to be expected when he faces Thurman.
Thurman is a power puncher living by his mantras, “All it takes is one time,” and “KO’s for life!”
But Thurman is quite the boxer as well; displaying the ability to adjust and adapt his game plan in previous fights against Diego Chaves, Jan Zaveck and Leonard Bundu.
Expect Thurman to set the pace whether as the matador, or as the one leading the charge. He wants to dictate and control the action.
There are many variables to this fight. If Thurman can catch Porter coming in and consistently create separation to allow his offense to thrive, he should win. If Porter can implement his imposing style and take this fight to the trenches, making the fight scrappy and ugly while attacking Thurman’s body, he should win. The fight can play out in various ways.
Ultimately this boils down to intangibles and who can better utilize them.
The great intangible Porter possesses is his strong will and determination. Despite constantly being heralded as the underdog and facing technical disadvantages in many match-ups, Porter typically rises to the occasion and perseveres relying on his determination and physicality.
An overlooked intangible Thurman possesses is his ring intelligence. Intelligence allows a fighter to pinpoint the opposing fighter’s weaknesses; allows the fighter to adapt to various situations and ultimately carves the path towards victory.
Thurman can make the necessary adjustments. Although he may not stop Porter within the distance, Thurman has enough power to keep Porter off, where he can consistently create space and find his range to land scoring punches.
The goal of Porter is to overwhelm and wear down opponents, but he will be on the receiving end of energy sapping punches for the more powerful and accurate Thurman.
Expect this to be a competitive, highly contested bout throughout, with Thurman creating enough separation as to who is the superior fighter en route to unanimous decision.
Nearly as important as the fight itself is what happens after the fight. The welterweight division has somewhat been at a standstill since the conclusion of the Mayweather-Pacquiao era and this event can trigger a series of significant fights moving forward.
Potentially there is a match-up featuring Kell Brook vs. Jessie Vargas later in the fall. Perhaps we’ll see the winner of Thurman/Porter take on the winner of Brook/Vargas.
Or we’ll see the winner of Thurman/Porter take on Danny Garcia or Adrien Broner or Errol Spence.
This match-up featuring Thurman and Porter should showcase the very best of what the welterweight division has to offer post Mayweather-Pacquiao era and is a nice transition into the new era of welterweights.