By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Shawn Porter doesn’t think Keith Thurman is lying.
The WBC welterweight champion expects Thurman to try to knock out Manny Pacquiao early in their welterweight title fight Saturday night. Thurman made news Wednesday, when he said he would bet on himself at MGM Grand’s sports book to win by knockout in the first round, second round and seventh round.
“I, personally, see three or four different ways that this fight could play out,” Porter said Thursday during a panel discussion at MGM Grand. “I know what Keith is gonna do. Keith is gonna try and come out early, and gonna try and get him out of there. If he doesn’t touch Manny the way he wants to touch him early on, he’s gonna lay back, he’s gonna try to box. He’s gonna try to box his way to victory. The problem with that is, Manny has a high work rate. Manny knows what he wants to see, and he takes it when he sees it. If Keith does not get him early, Manny wins a [12-round] decision.”
The 40-year-old Pacquiao hasn’t been knocked out since Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez knocked Pacquiao unconscious with a right hand in the sixth round of their fourth fight in December 2012. That fight took place at MGM Grand Garden Arena, the very venue where Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) and Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) will square off in a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event.
The 30-year-old Thurman hasn’t scored a legitimate knockout since he stopped Julio Diaz at the end of the third round in April 2014. Nevertheless, Porter knows Thurman well enough to realize he is serious in his belief that he can take out his smaller, older opponent quickly.
“Keith’s not out of character at all,” said Porter, who lost a unanimous decision to Thurman three years ago. “One thing I’m sure Winky [Wright] knows about Keith is he does not say anything that he doesn’t mean. He believes everything that he says. The confidence that you see coming from him now is very real. And the No. 1 thing that Winky just said is his will to win. He has a will to win, and 29 wins and no losses, he figures out a way to do it. And I think going into this fight, he says, ‘The way I’m gonna beat Manny is by destroying him and making him retire.’
“He believes he can do that within three rounds. And I’m not mad at him. I understand. From a fighter’s perspective, when you figure out what you wanna do to beat somebody, that’s what you’re gonna do. There’s no one – even if Winky has been in every camp and Winky said, ‘Yo, man, I don’t think you,’ he gonna say, ‘Winky, you ain’t wit me on this one. You know? Three rounds is it.’ So, I’m a firm believer that he’s gonna go out there, he’s gonna try to put the gas to the metal real quick and try to get Manny out of there.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.