Keith Thurman calls Kenny Porter a ‘loudmouth,’ predicts KO on June 25
Keith Thurman returned to the gym on Monday, encouraged by the familiar pitter-patter of boxers going through their paces.
Cleared to start working out for the first time, Thurman was hoping for a fresh start, doing his best to shrug off the memories of a car accident in February. But some thoughts are hard to erase and Thurman found himself harking back to a situation that could play out in a boxing ring this summer with grim results.
Shortly after Thurman’s WBA welterweight fight with Shawn Porter was pushed back after he was hurt — it’s now set for June 25 on CBS in primetime — Porter’s father and trainer, Kenny Porter made comments that kept Thurman in a frustrated mood. Kenny Porter was quoted in an online story asking for proof of Thurman’s injuries. Some construed the comments as questioning whether the accident had taken place.
Kenny Porter later clarified his comments, saying he was simply responding to a question and wasn’t insinuating anything, but Thurman wasn’t buying it. And a relationship that was already fraying around the edges, seems to have now charred.
“Trying to discredit, trying to throw out all these allegations and stuff, man, really I just didn’t want to pay it no mind, man,” Thurman told RingTV.com in his first interview with a news outlet since the car accident. “I’m a world class professional athlete, man. Just growing up in the game and how much I’ve dedicated to the sport, how loyal I am to the sport — it’s definitely disrespectful. But I just let it slide. To me, it’s nothing but drama. I’m interested in any statement that Shawn Porter wants to make. I’m fighting the fighter. I’m not fighting Kenny Porter. To me, he’s just a loudmouth daddy, man. Nothing else.”
Thurman, 27, was injured after his new Mustang hydroplaned and collided with another car on his way to the gym in his hometown of Clearwater, Florida. Thurman says he was drilled in the neck when the side airbags deployed. X-Rays and an MRI revealed microtears along the tendons of his spine, he says. The March 12 bout was postponed when a week later Thurman’s neck froze up in sparring.
Now armed with a new date, Thurman predicted he will become the first to knock out Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs). “No one’s ever stopped him,” Thurman said of the former titleholder. “And I love when I see stats like that because it gives me an opportunity to do something that no one has accomplished. Everyone knows my motto is ‘KOs for Life. One Time All the Time.’ He was dropped in the 12th in his last fight (against Adrien Broner last June in a fight he won). I’m looking forward to giving him a taste (of that).”
Perhaps, because of the bad-blood brewing, Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) said he never considering delaying the matchup in favor of a tuneup. He just didn’t think it was necessary. Thurman-Porter still doesn’t have a home, though Barclays Center in Brooklyn remains the favorite to land it.
“Not really,” he said of putting off the bout with Porter. “The only reason for that is because — either my neck is willing to sustain blows to the head or it’s not. The level of competition is not going to affect the health of my physical body. So being ready, I should be ready to take on anybody.”
Thurman says he’s six weeks away from being medically cleared to resume all gym activities, such as sparring. For now, he’s doing simple calisthenics while still receiving treatment on his neck. Thurman hasn’t fought since last July when he topped Luis Collazo.
“I don’t like to put the hard work and sacrifices I have to make in training for a tuneup,” Thurman said. “That would not be sufficient for me. I’m looking forward to this fight. I’m ready to put on a show.”
For now, he remains confident in the healing process. Doctors have assured him of a full recovery. Thurman has remained mostly out of public view since the accident. Normally a media magnet, Thurman spoke to a writer from the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) website last month and that was it. He didn’t even bother to watch Porter’s streamed sparring exhibition with journeyman Lanardo Tyner, who used to also work with Thurman.
“It’s not a good feeling to know you can’t do your job as a fighter,” Thurman said. “So it’s step by step. I’m still going through therapy this week and we’re going to keep up with the maintenance and monitor the body but it all seems to go moving in the right direction.”
The feelings of frustration have started to dissipate. Thurman is a long ways from the day when his doctor told him he couldn’t go through with the match because of his injuries.
“It was extremely disappointing,” said Thurman, who was sidelined for over a year after he sustained a hand injury in 2011. “It didn’t feel good knowing I was going to be letting down the fans and just the momentum of where my career is going right now. It is and was a big fight for my career. It’s a big fight for the fans. So I’m happy that we’re able to do it.”
Mitch Abramson is a former reporter with the New York Daily News. He can be reached on Twitter at: @Mabramson13.