By Keith Idec
Danny Garcia wasn’t the only welterweight Shawn Porter confronted Saturday night.
Porter interrupted Keith Thurman’s interview session with a group of reporters before Garcia’s fight and questioned the unbeaten WBA/WBC champion about when he’ll get his mandated rematch. Porter was much more respectful of Thurman, with whom he has a cordial relationship, than when he challenged Garcia in the ring following Garcia’s ninth-round technical knockout of Brandon Rios at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Porter and Thurman were separated by Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime employees after discussing their rematch face-to-face for more than 10 minutes in the Mandalay Bay media center.
“Did I run that fight?,” Porter yelled at Thurman. “Did I run? You did! You ran and you’ve been running ever since. And you’ve been running ever since.”
Thurman topped Porter by unanimous decision in an all-action, 12-round fight for Thurman’s WBA welterweight tile in June 2016 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Las Vegas’ Porter is the WBC’s No. 1 contender for Thurman’s title, but he doesn’t want to continue waiting for Thurman to grant him a rematch.
The closest thing to an answer Porter could get out of Thurman on Saturday night is that Thurman might fight him in October.
Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) is scheduled to take a tune-up fight against an undetermined opponent May 19 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. That’ll mark Thurman’s return from elbow surgery performed nearly 10 months ago.
The Clearwater, Florida, native hasn’t fought since edging Garcia by split decision in their 12-round, 147-pound title unification fight last March 4 at Barclays Center.
“We’re waiting on him,” Porter said of Thurman. “So when you’re wondering why every fighter in the welterweight division is inactive, it’s because this man right here ain’t man enough to get in the ring and say what it is. So whenever you’re ready.”
Thurman implored Porter to remain patient.
“It’s all about just getting back moving, getting back moving and grooving,” Thurman said. “After a year – I’ve been doing this for a long time. You’ve been doing this for a long time, right? When you’ve been sitting out of the ring, right, there is a little bit of ring rust. We have the skills to pull sh*t out. We know how to handle ourselves. But there is a little bit of ring rust. I’m intelligent enough to acknowledge that.
“My boy Winky [Wright], he never wanted to acknowledge [it]. He took two years off and still just wanted to fight the top dudes, and that wasn’t good for his career. He didn’t come in and just have one, little fight. That’s why I’m trying to fight twice this year, bro. I can fight you. I can fight you, but I’m just gonna get back in the ring first.”
Las Vegas’ Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) respects Thurman’s rationale for not wanting to fight him in what will be Thurman’s first fight in more than a year May 19.
The former IBF champ seemed resigned Saturday night to having to take another fight to try to remain sharp before boxing Thurman again. Porter, who figures he’ll fight again in May or June, most recently defeated Adrian Granados (18-6-2, 12 KOs) by unanimous decision November 4 at Barclays Center.
“When I hear Keith Thurman wants a tune-up fight,” Porter said, “I say, ‘All right, that makes sense. I want the 100-percent Keith Thurman in there. I don’t want no Keith Thurman that’s in there second-guessing his damn self, trying to figure out what’s going on when he gets in the ring with me.’ We wanna know when. The world wanna see you fight! The world wanna see you fight!”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.