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Keith Thurman is taking a methodical approach to his recovery

Fighters Network


Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter

Keith Thurman is taking a methodical approach to his recovery after sustaining neck and back injuries in a car accident in February.

The 27-year-old admitted he still hasn’t returned to sparring and isn’t even hitting the heavy bad at full strength yet. With his WBA welterweight title fight with Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16 knockouts) set for June 25 at Barclays Center on CBS, Thurman acknowledged he has no idea how his neck will respond to the impact of a punch. It was a somewhat startling admission but Thurman (26-0, 22 KO) didn’t seem overly concerned about being physically ready for the biggest fight of his career. Jesus Cuellar faces former three-division world champion Abner Mares in the televised co-feature.

“Sparring is the last thing on the regimen when it comes to coming back since the issue was in my neck,” Thurman said on Tuesday following a press conference in midtown Manhattan. “We’ve been running, we’ve been shadowboxing. We feel good. We’ve been hitting the bag and we’ve been hitting it harder and harder but we still got nine weeks, so we most likely won’t start sparring for four more weeks.”

Thurman said his neck was feeling better after he said he sustained whiplash in the accident. The great unknown is how he will react the first time he’s punched.

“It feels good, it feels pretty much great,” Thurman said. “But it hasn’t been hit yet. That’s why we’re not rushing to get that response.” Thurman said he wasn’t worried about the first time he gets hit. “We should be okay,” he said. “We’ve been doing everything that the doctors want us to do.”

Porter said he wouldn’t be targeting Thurman’s neck for the fight. He laughed when he was asked if he and his trainer and father Kenny Porter would try to exploit Thurman’s injuries. “I’m a competitor,” Shawn Porter said. “I’m not trying to kill the kid. I laugh because that was the first thing I thought (in response to the question). If I did trigger something – you know what could happen. I didn’t get too much feedback on what was hurt, what was injured. We’re going to have to have great eyes on June 25. I have to be able to see the way his body is moving, if he’s favoring, something, anything.”

Thurman said he was hurt after his car hydroplaned on a rainy day and his side airbags plowed into his neck and back. The accident postponed the original date of the fight on March 12. Thurman says the demand for the fight has only intensified after the delay.

“At the end of the day the fight is better now than before,” Thurman said. “The venue is better. The fans, I hate to say it, but I’m glad I made you wait because this isn’t just the biggest fight of my career. It’s obviously the most anticipated fight of my career and sometimes it pays to add a little drama to the game. It wasn’t our intentions but it has all worked out for the better.”