By Miguel Rivera
World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman has revealed that his organization granted a special permit to welterweight champion Keith Thurman, so he could make an optional defense on May 19th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
However, following that voluntary defense - Thurman is then bound to fulfill back to back mandatory obligations - against Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia.
"On Saturday Danny won the eliminator (against Brandon Rios), but Thurman has a voluntary because of the injury that he had - but after that he has to do a mandatory with Porter and Garcia. At the end fight from last Saturday, Porter went up to the ring to challenge Garcia and we are going to see if they are actually going to face each other. But yes, they are the two mandatory challengers," said Sulaiman to ESPN Deportes.
Thurman won a close twelve round unanimous decision over Porter in 2016.
Then last March, Thurman won a close twelve round split decision over Garcia to unify the WBC, WBA welterweight titles.
After that fight, Thurman underwent surgery to correct an elbow injury and he's been out of the ring ever since.
He's yet to finalize an opponent for his planned return in May.
Porter became the mandatory challenger after knocking out Andre Berto in the first half of 2017, and then solidified that position by winning a decision over Adrian Granados in the fall.
Garcia also won a final eliminator, as previously noted, by knocking out Brandon Rios last Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
After that fight, Porter entered the ring and had a war of words with Garcia on national television.
If Thurman is bound to facing Porter and Garcia in back to back fashion (unless Porter and Garcia face each other), then a showdown between Thurman and IBF champion Errol Spence is not likely until at least the second of 2019.