Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter preview
Keith Thurman (left) and Shawn Porter (right) | Stephanie Trapp - Showtime

On February 15, 1978, the United States watched live on CBS as Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali in a Split-Decision, claiming "The Greatest’s" WBC and WBA Heavyweight Titles. It was the last time CBS would air a primetime boxing match for nearly four decades.

That streak comes to an end this Saturday when Keith “One Time” Thurman and Shawn “Showtime” Porter go head to head in the most anticipated welterweight bout of 2016, one that has been two years in the making. Originally slated for March, the match was postponed when WBA champion Keith Thurman withdrew after sustaining injuries in a car accident. While most fights suffer due to a postponement, Thurman-Porter benefitted tenfold from the delay. A higher-profile venue was chosen, promoters got three extra months to hype the fight, and it was slated for a date where it will have little competition from other sports.

While fight fans love when sworn enemies duke it out (Ali/Frazier, Leonard/Duran, De La Hoya/Mayweather), the murky waters and blurred lines of friend fighting friend are equally entertaining. Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman went through the amateur ranks together, and as professionals have sparred on occasion. In their own words, they’d be down to “fight for free”. But as both say, if you want to be the best you have to beat the best, and as of right now they stand in the way of the other. While the respect may be there, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter are opponents until the final bell rings. Anybody can punch an enemy, but it takes a special kind of fighter to punch a friend.

The Fight:

Location: The Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York.

Time: 9:00 pm Eastern /8:00 pm Central Time /6:00 pm Pacific

Channel: CBS

Undercard: Jarrett Hurd (17-0; 11) vs. Oscar Molina (13-0; 10), Light Middleweight bout.

The Fighters:

Keith “One Time” Thurman

From: Clearwater, Florida

Division: Welterweight

Record: 26 Wins, 0 Losses, 22 Knockouts, 1 No-Contest

Championships:

WBA Welterweight Champion (Current)

WBA Interim Welterweight Champion (Former)

WBO/NABO Light Middleweight Champion (Former)

Last Five Fights:

Win - Corner Stoppage vs. Luis Collazo

Win - Unanimous Decision vs. Robert Guerrero

Win - Unanimous Decision vs. Leonard Bundu

Win - Corner Stoppage vs. Julio Diaz

Win - Technical Knockout vs. Jesus Soto Karass

Strengths: Keith Thurman’s nickname “One Time” says all you need to know about him: He can punch. Hard. His 22 knockouts in 27 fights are one of the best in the 147 lb. division and they even earned him a TKO victory at 154 as well when he knocked out Carlos Quintana. Don’t mistake Thurman for a one-trick pony, however. Unlike many power punchers, Thurman is a solid fundamental boxer. On the rare occasion where an opponent can weather the brunt of his punches, Thurman has shown that he can be as technical and methodical as anyone in the division. Against proven veterans Leonard Bundu and Robert Guerrero, Thurman fought strategically and outpointed his opponents over 12 rounds. Against Guerrero specifically, this armchair general mind frame saved his undefeated record as Guerrero roared back in the second half of the fight, coming up short due to some clutch boxing by One Time.

Weaknesses: Footage of Thurman’s fight vs. veteran Luis Collazo gives Thurman skeptics plenty to dissect. Collazo is a past his prime gatekeeper who hasn’t had a notable win since Victor Ortiz in 2014 (the notability of which is debatable at best), yet he did some damage to Thurman’s body throughout the middle rounds. The elite fighters in the welterweight division are much faster and much stronger than Collazo, so Collazo’s ability to get inside and hammer away at Thurman’s body was a definite red flag. "One Time" was able to down Collazo eventually, hammering his face until Collazo’s eye was swelled shut, but as said in the beginning of this paragraph… Collazo is very over the hill. Porter is not.

“Showtime” Shawn Porter

From: Akron, Ohio

Division: Welterweight

Record: 26 Wins, 1 Loss, 1 Draw

Championships:

IBF Welterweight Champion (Former)

WBO/NABO Light Middleweight Champion (Former)

WBO/NABO Welterweight Champion (Former)

Last Five Fights:

Win - Unanimous Decision vs. Adrien Broner

Win - Knockout vs. Erick Bone

Loss - Majority Decision vs. Kell Brook

Win - Technical Knockout vs. Paulie Malignaggi

Win - Unanimous Decision vs. Devon Alexander

Strengths: Porter is a pressure fighter, awkward in delivery and relentless in his pursuit of opponents. Translation: he may not be as fundamentally air-tight as other fighters but he won’t let that stop him from coming at you. His off-beat, ever-changing style makes it hard for opponents to get a read on him which makes adjusting their game plans difficult. Against Devon Alexander he bullied his way inside and out brawled his counterpart, while he resembled a shark in bloody waters vs. Paulie Malignaggi and Erick Bone, ruthlessly beating them down like he was a 20-year-old Mike Tyson. In his most recent fight against fellow Ohioan Adrien Broner, he outboxed “The Problem” in a fight where Broner tried to make it ugly by clinching, grabbing, and thrashing.

Weaknesses: Thurman isn’t the only one with questionable defense at times. In the aforementioned Broner fight, Porter was downed in the final round out of nowhere by a very defeated Broner. It may have been 12th round complacency on Porter’s part or a lucky shot on Broner’s part, but the hook was landed a bit too cleanly. If Keith Thurman can land hooks like that, this fight may be over before Thurman can break a light sweat. In addition, while Porter may be able to outbox brawlers, he’s unproven vs. elite technical fighters. His one loss was to Kell Brook who is arguably the best welterweight in the world right now so not too many are holding that against Shawn, but Keith is not far behind Brook in terms of talent.

The Verdict:

Thurman and Porter both have huge upsides on offense with some defensive lapses typically not seen in a top fighter. Thurman, however, has a much higher offensive upside and a competent enough boxing mind to outpoint the former champion Porter in what should be a very entertaining fight. Is it out of line to ask for a rematch already?

Keith Thurman by Split Decision

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