By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Shawn Porter hopes Keith Thurman beats Jessie Vargas.
Porter pointed out, however, that it won’t be an easy fight for Thurman, in no way a tune-up. Thurman-Vargas hasn’t been officially announced, but Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) is expected to defend his WBA/WBC welterweight titles against Vargas (28-2, 10 KOs) sometime in April.
If Thurman wins, his following fight could be a rematch with Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs), the mandatory challenger for Thurman’s WBC 147-pound championship.
“I know Jessie,” Porter said. “I know his work ethic. I know what he can do in the ring. I think we’ve done maybe three rounds [of sparring]. But in three rounds, you can find out a lot about a guy, what he has and what he doesn’t have. He’s got skills, he’s very precise, he’s smart.
“We know what Keith Thurman has. He gets you off-balance, he’s very unorthodox, but he’s also very sharp at the same time. Both of those guys have what it takes to win that fight, but I think Keith Thurman wins. For my sake, I hope he wins because that’s the fight I want.”
Facing Vargas will mark Thurman’s first fight since having elbow surgery a month after defeating Danny Garcia by split decision March 4 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Vargas, a former WBO welterweight champ, most recently beat Mexico’s Aaron Herrera (38-3-1, 22 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder December 15 in Lancaster, California.
Porter will watch Thurman-Vargas with great interest because he wants nothing more than to avenge his unanimous-decision defeat to Thurman in what was a very entertaining, competitive title fight in June 2016 at Barclays Center.
“I think Jessie is a little more than a tune-up, but that’s what [Thurman] wants to do, man,” Porter said. “I’m not here to play. Some guys are. I’m not here for this. Y’all put these cameras in front of me. I didn’t come looking for y’all. My job is to fight, make people stand up and cheer, to make some money and take care of my family.
“These guys are out here playing. Keith Thurman has been playing for over a year. So he thinks he’s gonna get in there in a quote, unquote tune-up with Jessie Vargas. That’s gonna be a great fight for him. After that, hopefully no slip-ups and then it’s me. But I’m just doing the best I can to wait, be patient and do the best I can to stay in shape and ready to go when I get the call.”
If Thurman wins, Las Vegas’ Porter would prefer that a Thurman rematch is his next fight. If Thurman makes him wait too long, the former IBF welterweight champ will consider taking an interim bout before facing Thurman again.
“You know, it’s a funny business right now with Keith Thurman fighting Jessie Vargas,” Porter said. “Nothing against Jessie at all. That’s my boy. But I’m in line to fight Keith Thurman. This is Keith Thurman’s doing. Like I said, the best thing I can do is stay ready. If they say, ‘Hey, we want you to fight Danny Garcia,’ I welcome that fight.
“Why? Because I was trying to get that fight two years ago, before I fought Keith Thurman. Three years ago now, before I fought Keith Thurman. So that’s still a fight I welcome. Outside of that, it’s Keith Thurman. I’ve been fighting to get that rematch for a long time.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.