By Sean Crose
“KEITH THURMAN TO DEFEND WBA WELTERWEIGHT TITLE AGAINST SHAWN PORTER IN BLOCKBUSTER SHOWDOWN OF ELITE 147-POUNDERS ON SATURDAY, MARCH 12.”
So screams a weekend press release announcing the long awaited matchup between Keith Thurman (26-0) and Shawn Porter (26-1-1) this March at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. The fight will be aired in primetime on CBS (the first such bout for the network in primetime since Spinks stunned Ali all those decades ago) and will clearly be a big deal in the fight world.
Whether the fight is worthy of the title “blockbuster showdown,” however, remains to be seen. Indeed, such a banner headline seems like a modernization of the type used way back in the Sullivan-Corbett era. So, yes, this is a big fight and one well worth getting excited about. It’s also great to see such a matchup appearing on (relatively) free television. Make no mistake about it, however, there’s been an element of strangeness to this whole affair which is hard to deny.
For starters, what took so long for this thing to come to fruition? Neither of these two men, who are arguably just entering their primes, have fought since the summer. Even by today’s standards, that’s a while. Furthermore, this bout has been discussed for ages. Team Porter even began expressing its puzzlement at the tortoise like pace of matters recently.
There’s also the matter of, well, who’s covering the costs here. Dan Rafael of ESPN wrote that “this fight will not carry PBC branding.” And yet the press release declared, in writing, that it would be a “PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS BLOCKBUSTER.” Then again, the same press release also declared the fight was to be aired “on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on CBS.” Confused? Welcome to the club. While it’s true Showtime and CBS fall under the same corporate umbrella, it’s curious as to why Showtime’s name is in this at all.
Then again, anything fight guru Al Haymon (who is somehow connected to everyone and everything connected to this fight) seems to get his hands on carries with it an aura of mystery…as well as downright confusion. People have been saying all over the internet that Haymon’s PBC series is in financial trouble. It may be. Then again, it may not be. This author, frankly, has no idea. Nor does he know whether or not any of this means the CBS broadcast is being paid for by hedge fund Wadell @ Reed.
Sometimes it’s good to just sit back and enjoy. There may be high drama and intrigue behind the scenes here, but perhaps there isn’t. Few truly know the truth. All the rest of us know is that Thurman and Porter are finally going to meet in the ring.
And that’s a good thing.