Fight Picks: Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter
Keith Thurman puts his WBA welterweight belt on the line against Shawn Porter in an eagerly anticipated matchup on Saturday, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The CBS broadcast begins at 9 p.m ET/ 6 p.m. PT.
Originally, both were scheduled to meet in March until a neck injury Thurman suffered in a car accident postponed the bout. Thankfully, Thurman was able to recover.
Thurman (26-0, 22 knockouts) is known to have power but as he’s continued to move up levels, he’s developed into more of a boxer. He has been hurt, noticeably to the body in his last fight, when he met Luis Collazo. If he sits down on his punches, he could hurt Porter coming in, however, he’ll have to put himself in harm’s way to gain the Ohioan’s respect.
Former IBF 147-pound titlist Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs), is an aggressive, pressure fighter who can be reckless. He doesn’t have elite power but does have a sturdy chin and a high work rate. Porter, 28, is more battle tested than the younger Thurman, 27, beating Devon Alexander and Adrien Broner. The lone loss on his ledger was to current IBF titleholder Kell Brook, while Thurman’s best opponent was a Robert Guerrero, who may have been past his prime.
Because of the postponement, both men have been inactive for several months. Thurman last fought 11 months ago when he stopped Collazo, while Porter has been absent for a year after outpointing Adrien Broner. Although both have stayed in shape waiting for this fight, it will be interesting to see how both handle the layoffs. Has one of them gone stale and left his best in the gym?
Online gambling group bet365.com lists Thurman as a 4/9 (-225) favorite while Porter is priced at 7/4 (+175).
RingTV.com asked 21 boxing insiders for their picks:
Mitch Abramson, RingTV.com
Keith Thurman PTS 12 Shawn Porter: I see Keith Thurman winning a close fight, using his boxing skills to narrowly avoid Porter’s aggressive rush-ins and earning a split decision victory. While Thurman’s neck and back are still question marks, I don’t think he would follow through with the fight if he was still hampered by the car accident. Porter will have his moments but I see Thurman as the slightly more skilled fighter here, allowing him to just get by.
Robert Diaz, Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker
Shawn Porter UD 12 Keith Thurman: This is a very good fight in the welterweight division, as it pairs two fighters at their best moment. It is an even fight but I must favor Porter because of level of opposition. I believe his strength on the inside and his conditioning will be vital. Thurman had the power advantage but I believe Porter will neutralize that by staying in the inside and smothering Keith’s punches. It may turn sloppy at times but Porter will do whatever it takes and he will win a unanimous decision.
Bernard Fernandez, THE RING, RingTV.com, TheSweetScience.com and Sherdog.com
Keith Thurman KO Shawn Porter: I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be a repeat of the Daniel Jacobs-Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin bout, which Jacobs won in shocking fashion with a first-round blitz. Not that Thurman is that superior to Porter but he is very good and committed to making a big statement. Thurman inside of four rounds.
Doug Fischer, Editor of RingTV.com, THE RING
Keith Thurman PTS 12 Shawn Porter: I think it’s an even match-up like a lot of people. I’m not quite sure how their styles play out in the ring. I view Thurman as a fast and powerful boxer-puncher, a mobile boxer, a guy who can be a seek-and-destroy fighter against a certain caliber of fighter but, generally speaking, against world-class opposition, particularly fighters who have world-class chins and durability, he’s more somebody who punches on the fly and I suspect he’ll have to employ some of that strategy against Porter because we all know how strong and durable and rugged Shawn Porter is. Porter’s style is kinda hard to lock down. I’ve heard people define him as a grinder. He’s not a world-class puncher but his heavy hands and punishing punches wear people down physically because he’s generally the stronger man in the ring. He’s an aggressive, physical boxer and it’s hard to figure out how the styles will play out in the ring, which is part of the reason why it’s hard to pick a winner and part of the reason why I view it as a 50/50 fight. My hunch is that Thurman is a little more talented than Porter. I think both guys are terrific athletes and know how to box. I think Thurman will pick his shots, know when to stand and trade and when to get out of the kitchen, so to speak. I think he’ll land the cleaner, harder blows, round-by-round, over the 12-round distance. I know Porter will have his moments, I know he’ll win more than a few rounds. I think it’s going to be a very close fight but I favor Thurman by 7-5 in rounds, 115-113. Part of the reason I favor Thurman is that I don’t think Porter will be able to be as aggressive against him as he was against Paulie Malignaggi or even Adrien Broner because I think Thurman hits with enough authority to get Porter’s respect and I think Thurman’s lateral movement will neutralize some of Porter’s pressure.
Norm Frauenheim, THE RING/www.15rounds.com
Keith Thurman UD 12 Shawn Porter: The best pick might be a rematch. Thurman and Shawn Porter are both entering their primes and each has shown maturity in their last few fights. Porter has speed that Thurman has yet to encounter. But Thurman has a lot more than just the power summed up in his “One Time” nickname. He has displayed smarts, an instinctive ability to think through adversity. He’ll need the smarts and more to catch and slow down Porter but the guess here is that he will go for a narrow, perhaps controversial win that sets up a sequel.
Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest/TheSweetScience.com
Keith Thurman UD12 Shawn Porter: I’m expecting a very competitive contrast of styles when a cerebral boxer-puncher meets a relentless pressure fighter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. If Keith Thurman is to be successful, he must be like Muhammad Ali to Shawn Porter’s Joe Frazier in the heavyweight rivals’ second bout. It might disappoint some fight fans but Thurman has the outside skills to offset Porter and the punching power to ring his bell without taking too many risks in return. Of course, Porter will enjoy some success during his many bull rushes at Thurman but the defending WBA welterweight champion has proven his durability and discipline against recent challengers. A late knockdown scored by Thurman seals the deal on the judges’ cards in the range of 115-112, leaving open the door to a potential sequel. Porter once told me that he’d “fight ‘One Time’ two times!” to secure a win against Thurman. I think he’s going to have to.
Sean Gibbons, Zanfer matchmaker
Keith Thurman to beat Shawn Porter: I like Keith Thurman better all a round fighter…better power…Porter too sloppy.
Tom Gray, RingTV.com
Shawn Porter UD 12 Keith Thurman: This is an extremely difficult fight to call but, if I have to go one way, I’ll take Porter due to his work rate and experience at top level. Thurman excels when he’s given time to unload the bombs but I think Porter will cut the distance smartly from different angles and let his hands go before drifting off to the sides. It takes precision accuracy to thread home a knockout blow and I just think Thurman will struggle with his timing. Porter will get nailed here and there but, over the course, I see him prevailing by decision. He’s incredibly strong, durable and very hungry to get back on top.
David Greisman, BoxingScene.com
Keith Thurman SD 12 Shawn Porter: There is footage out there of a sparring session from years ago in which Thurman outboxes Porter. It’s said that Porter was just starting camp then and he says he’s gotten better since then. So has Thurman. I expect Porter to perform well on Saturday night but for Thurman to get credit for the punches he lands and the judges’ perception of the power he carries. A satisfying fight ends with an unsatisfying split decision.
Lee Groves, RingTV.com
Keith Thurman PTS 12 Shawn Porter: Although Porter is enormously strong for a welterweight – after all, he weighed 165 1/2 for his debut and holds amateur wins over Daniel Jacobs, Demetrius Andrade and light heavyweight Edwin Rodriguez – Thurman is the better shot-for-shot hitter and boasts a more versatile style. If Thurman can keep Porter at long range with his excellent jab, I think he’ll box and punch his way to a points win.
Robert Guerrero, welterweight contender
Keith Thurman PTS 12 Shawn Porter: This is going to be a good fight. In my opinion, Shawn Porter has to keep the pressure on Thurman from the opening bell. If Thurman is able to keep him off him, he’s going to pick him apart and land a big shot at some point in the fight. That being said, I think Thurman will out-box him. This fight goes the distance with Thurman winning on the scorecards.
Brian Harty, THE RING
Shawn Porter SD Keith Thurman: I really prefer Thurman’s style and I think he’s the more talented boxer but I’m leaning toward Porter based on a feeling more than anything. I just get the sense that Thurman stifles himself by holding back, like he’s a little nervous about putting that “0” too much in harm’s way. If that’s true, and maybe injuries will exacerbate the problem, then Porter, more than anybody, has the perfect style to take advantage of any micro-hesitation: Thurman will be rattled by the relentless invasion of his personal space and Porter’s skill on the inside will find opportunities. Then again, Thurman and his team probably know that Porter will be coming forward.
Ricky Hatton, former two-division champion
Keith Thurman KO Shawn Porter: A 50/50 match for me. Thurman carries the edge in power. I think it will be pretty close but, at some point, Thurman can nail him in the later rounds and knock him out.
Jolene Mizzone, Main Events matchmaker
Shawn Porter by UD or late stoppage over Keith Thurman: They have both been out of the ring for almost a year, so they are on even playing field, when it comes to ring rust. I am going with Porter based on his opposition. He has fought much tougher opposition than Thurman. I am a true believer that the better opposition you fight makes you a better fighter both physically and mentally. The reason for my late stoppage pick is based on how Thurman reacted with a body shot from Luis Collazo. I think Porter will capitalize on that.
Sergio Mora, middleweight contender
Shawn Porter PTS 12 Keith Thurman: Thurman has been showing he’s not all power puncher and could “power-box” too. He’s gonna need to step back and get his space against Porter. Except for his one loss, Porter has perfected making others fight his fight by mauling and pressuring. He’s going to have to do pressure for 12 rounds and absorb some good shots by Thurman. He does that, I see Porter winning a close decision “The Porter Way.”
Diego Morilla, HBO.com, RingTV.com, TheSweetScience.com
Keith Thurman PTS 12 Shawn Porter: I wish I didn’t have to go with the cliche of “X is going to impose his bigger frame and his superior punching power over Y’s superb boxing abilities” but that’s exactly what will happen, with Thurman being the proverbial Mr. X. Porter may land at a higher percentage through the first half of the bout but once Thurman gets his offensive game going, the chance of a stoppage will grow bigger by the minute. Porter’s skills will carry him through the fight but not enough to escape a knockdown or two before losing by a competitive decision.
Marty Mulcahey, UCNLive.com
Keith Thurman PTS 12 Shawn Porter: A tough call, as Keith Thurman has shown enough vulnerabilities to be out-hustled by Shawn Porter if allowed to use his robust style and in-fighting. I may have this fight a little closer than most, mostly because, if you look at the duo, on TV, it seems Thurman is the larger man but, on paper, the pair are nearly identical. I also like that Porter has faced and dealt with a higher level of opposition overall. Having said all that…I still favor Thurman to edge out a decision on the basis of superior movement and more judicious use of his jab to control range. Porter’s lone loss was to Kell Brook, who is similar to Thurman in his offensive zeal, that managed to put Porter on his back foot. I believe Thurman does the same and judges reward him, as they will be seeing and paying more attention to his exciting style, even if he may not deserve the nod.
Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com
Keith Thurman KO Shawn Porter: If Adrien Broner had come in any kind of shape, he probably could have stopped Porter. Thurman will be in peak form, is a better boxer and Porter’s mauling is going to work against him as Thurman moves. I like Thurman in a relatively dominant performance.
John J. Raspanti, Maxboxing.com, Doghouseboxing.com, Ringside Boxing Show
Keith Thurman SD 12 Shawn Porter: I really like this fight. Keith Thurman is the current WBA welterweight champion; Shawn Porter is a former titleholder. Between them, there’s only one loss. Thurman appears to be more versatile. He can box and punch. He’s scored 22 knockouts in his 26 victories. Porter is aggressive and throws punches in bunches. His determination is second to none. Thurman will need to control Porter on the outside to win. Porter wins if he gets inside and works. I’m going with Thurman to edge Porter by split decision.
Salvador Rodriguez, ESPN Deportes
Keith Thurman PTS 12 Shawn Porter: I expect the most difficult fight for Thurman and Porter gives him a hard fight. But I expect a close victory for Keith at the end. My choice is a decision in this fight for “One Time.”
Michael Woods, NYFights.com, RingTV.com, Everlast podcast “TALKBOX”
Keith Thurman UD 12 Shawn Porter: In such a fight, I’m going to do my homework and get insights from fighters more than usual. I’ve done that and I’m going to say the style matchup favors Thurman’s smart boxing. I worry more than a bit that he’s been hampered in training by that neck injury and that issue could tilt the tango to the grinder Porter. Porter, he’s been in with maybe three guys who are better on paper than anyone Thurman has met, so you give the pro fight/big fight experience edge to the Ohioan. Thurman needs to fight a more perfect fight to win, keep those legs moving the whole night. I, without that much firmness in my declaration, see Thurman winning a unanimous decision. Really, it’s a coin flip for me and, truly, an intriguing waltz.
Final tally: 16-5 in favor of Keith Thurman to win Saturday’s welterweight showdown against Shawn Porter.