By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Keith Thurman has a unique understanding of just how difficult it can be to fight Shawn Porter.
Their welterweight title fight amounted to 12 rough rounds, a physically taxing match Thurman barely won in June 2016. Porter’s pressure and physicality made him one of the two toughest opponents of Thurman’s career.
That wasn’t the same Shawn Porter that Thurman watched struggle against Yordenis Ugas in Porter’s last fight. Ugas gave Porter so much trouble, some fans and media think the Cuban underdog did enough to upset Porter in their 12-rounder March 9 in Carson, California.
Porter won a split decision against Ugas (23-4, 11 KOs) and retained the WBC welterweight title he won by defeating Danny Garcia six months earlier. Las Vegas’ Porter won’t be as fortunate, according to Thurman, if he tries to box from a distance when he squares off with Errol Spence Jr.
Spence (25-0, 21 KOs), the IBF 147-pound champion, and Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) are expected to meet either late in the summer or early in the fall, probably at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The winner would be stay in position to box whomever wins the Thurman-Manny Pacquiao fight July 20 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC), the WBA “super” welterweight champion, broke down Spence-Porter following a press conference Tuesday in Manhattan to promote his FOX Sports Pay-Per-View fight with Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs).
“You know, Porter is tough,” Thurman said. “If you let him fight his fight, which I don’t think he even did in his last fight – I’m not a fan of this Porter boxing. I’m not a fan of Porter on the outside. If Porter stays on the outside against Errol Spence, it’s easy pickings for Errol Spence. If Porter roughs him up and fights him the way he fought me, if he fights him the way he fought Andre Berto and got up all in his chest – and there was a few head-butts. I know they’re not intentional, but it makes the fight annoying, you know? It’s that you don’t have to just watch out for this guy’s hands and what punches he’s throwing, you’ve gotta watch out for that bulldozer of a head he’s got, charging at you at the same time. But I definitely favor Spence in that fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.