It was a fight that was as competitive as it was engaging, a championship bout in which both participants put it all on the line until the final bell sounded. In the end, there would be only one winner in the world title fight between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, but there certainly was no loser.
Keith Thurman defeated Shawn Porter by unanimous decision to retain his 147-pound world championship at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on June 25 in a back-and-forth battle between two fighters in the prime of their careers.
Considering the importance and the competitive quality of the bout, Thurman vs Porter was selected by the staff of Premier Boxing Champions as PBC's Fight of the Year for 2016.
The Thurman-Porter showdown edged out a thrilling cast of contenders that included Leo Santa Cruz vs Carl Frampton, Adonis Stevenson vs Thomas Williams Jr. and Robert Easter Jr. vs Richard Commey.
Although Thurman won by identical scores of 115-113 from all three ringside judges, the discrepancy in arriving at the final result showed just how even the fight truly was. The judges were in complete agreement on just six of the 12 rounds (giving four to Thurman), and the six disputed rounds were split down the middle for each fighter.
Also underscoring the competitiveness of those 12 rounds is the fact Porter landed just one more total punch (236-235) than Thurman, although the champ connected with more of his power shots (203-177).
Thurman-Porter was the first prime-time fight on CBS since Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali in February 1978, and it proved worthy of the big stage as it gained a peak audience of nearly 4 million viewers.
The fight didn't take long to heat up as Porter bulled his way inside in the early rounds against Thurman, who relied on his footwork and counterpunching in his attempts to neutralize the former world champion.
Thurman finally broke through with some big shots in the closing seconds of Round 3, landing with both hands while backed against the ropes. He rocked Porter again late in the fourth with a pair of left hooks to gain the early advantage.
Porter roared back and controlled the next three rounds as he used his physical approach to work effectively inside. Then he tagged Thurman in Round 8 with a potent left hook to the body that caused the champ to retreat so he could recover.
The bout reached a crescendo in the ninth and 10th as the longtime friends engaged in consecutive Round of the Year candidates in which they stood toe-to-toe and exchanged leather with unrelenting ferocity.
Although there were no knockdowns, the intense competitiveness and ebb and flow of the fight made it an instant classic.
While there is no guarantee of a rematch since Thurman is now scheduled for a March 4 title unification bout against unbeaten Danny Garcia, the prospect of a Thurman-Porter II is certainly a welcome one.
"I would give him a rematch," Thurman said. "It was a great fight. He was a great opponent."
Said Porter: "We need that rematch. I know the fans want that rematch. ... If he gives me another chance, I'm going to work hard and [this time] leave with his title."
Coming Friday: the PBC Fighter of the Year. For all of our year-end honors, follow our Best of PBC 2016 entries.
*This article originally ran on the Premier Boxing Champions website