By Jake Donovan
Shawn Porter has fought at the title level. He was the very first bout out the gate for the official launching of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Spike TV and also played primetime for his career-best win, a 12-round nod over Adrien Broner last June on NBC.
So you’ll have to pardon the former welterweight titlist if you expected a more exciting reaction to his facing unbeaten beltholder Keith Thurman live on CBS in primetime on June 25.
Their long-awaited bout – which takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York – has been in the making dating back to last September. Perhaps it contributes to Porter – who hasn’t fought since the aforementioned win over Broner - being anxious to get in the ring and not having time to get caught up in the moment.
Or maybe, it’s just his being the consummate professional and focusing on the task at hand.
“It’s important to be on primetime, to be a part of history,” Porter (26-1-1, 16KOs) notes of the first boxing telecast to air live in primetime on CBS since 1978.
The last such occasion featured the late, great Muhammad Ali, albeit in a losing performance as he was upset by Leon Spinks, a 1976 Olympic Gold medalist who lifted the World heavyweight championship in just his eighth pro fight. Spinks’ historic feat that night played to a home audience of more than 70 million viewers.
It’s safe to say that the June 25 affair won’t come close to matching that number, or even creating the level of mystique that came with any given event featuring Ali. In its own right, though, this particular matchup has been offered as the centerpiece of an attractive spring and summer schedule presented by Showtime/CBS (both are under the CBS Corp, Inc. banner).
Thurman (26-0, 22KOs) obtained his portion of the welterweight crown with a 10th round stoppage of Diego Chavez in July ’13. The bout was for an interim title, of which he made three successful defenses, before claiming two more victories after seeing his reign converted to full title status.
His most recent victory came last July, forcing Luis Collazo to retire on his stool after seven rounds in the inaugural edition of PBC on ESPN. Prior to that, he served in the main event in the very first PBC telecast, which aired live in primetime on NBC.
For his third straight ring appearance, “One Time” Thurman kicks off a primetime telecast on a brand new network. It will mark Porter’s second such occasion in primetime on free network TV, as well as an attempt to begin a second tour as a welterweight titlist, having briefly reigned from Dec. ’13-Aug. ’14 before conceding his belt to Kell Brook.
None of that will play a role in his doing things any differently on fight night. If anything, he promises the magnitude of the event to raise his game.
“I’m not going to allow the importance of this fight to override my mentality,” promises Porter. “Being on same network whose last fight in primetime was Muhammad Ali, it’s humbling.
“I think it’s awesome and it adds to the importance of the fight. But it won’t override my game plan and mentality.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2