The UCNLive panel: Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter
Tonight, Keith “One Time” Thurman looks to defend his WBA welterweight title for the first time against Shawn “Showtime” Porter at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Broadcast on CBS (9:00 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT), the main event is one of the biggest match-ups of the year and an infrequent occasion, being a toss-up fight, in which either fighter can conceivably win. With that in mind, UCNLive has compiled the following panel piece, in which our writers, and some guests, give their quick analyses and predictions of the fight. At the end of the article, please enjoy our “10 Count” episode on Thurman-Porter, in which UCN’s Steve Kim, Mike Baca II and THE RING magazine’s Doug Fischer discuss this superb welterweight clash.
Marty Mulcahey (UCNLive)
A tough call, as Keith Thurman has shown enough vulnerabilities to be out-hustled by Shawn Porter if allowed to use his robust style and infighting. I may have this fight a little closer than most, mostly because, if you look at the duo on TV, it seems Thurman is the larger man but, on paper, the pair are nearly identical. I also like that Porter has faced and dealt with a higher level of opposition overall. Having said all that…I still favor Thurman to edge out a decision on the basis of superior movement and more judicious use of his jab to control range. Porter’s lone loss was to current IBF titlist Kell Brook, who is similar to Thurman in his offensive zeal that managed to put Porter on his back foot. I believe Thurman does the same and judges reward him as they will be seeing and paying more attention to his exciting style, even if he may not deserve the nod.
Steve Kim (UCNLive/BoxingScene.com)
While most are favoring Thurman, and he is the favorite in the eyes of most, the one ability Porter has is to win fights. And I think this will be classic Porter, who will be more effective than exciting here. He has a way of smothering his opponents and just grinding things out one round at a time. I think he does this enough, while avoiding the power punches of Thurman to win a decision.
Michael Montero (UCNLive/Boxing Monthly)
When this fight was first discussed, I, like many, favored Thurman. But, as time has gone by with postponements that have kept Thurman idle for the better part of a year, my thoughts have changed. Porter has undoubtedly faced the better opposition as a pro and is arguably coming off the finest performance of his career, dominating Adrien Broner in June of last year. Even in his loss to Kell Brook in 2014, Porter won the early rounds and was competitive throughout. The question is: Will Keith Thurman be able to make adjustments the way Brook did in that bout? Has Porter learned from his mistakes and/or improved since his lone defeat? Can Thurman get Porter’s respect early on and keep him off? This is a fascinating matchup of styles but ultimately I believe we are in for an ugly bout. I envision Porter rushing inside and smothering Thurman’s attack. I envision headbutts. I envision cuts. In the end, “Showtime” Shawn Porter scores the upset via majority or split decision.
“The President” Andrew Kennedy (UCNLive/AOBoxing.com)
Seeing as both these fighters exemplify the Premier BoxingChampions activity rate, the memory of their last in-ring performances is about as faded as a Colorado twentysomething on 4/20. I like Porter; my heart hopes he wins but my head tells me Thurman will pull this one out. I don’t think Porter’s bull-rush tactics will be sophisticated enough to counter Thurman’s movement, accuracy and power. Thurman could falter if he allows himself to be dragged into an ugly, clinch-filled dogfight – but I don’t think he will. Prediction: Thurman by unanimous decision.
Albert Baker (InstantBoxing.com)
Thurman will need to come out with foot movement and counter right hands from the pivot to keep the mauling style and lunging left hooks of Porter at bay. Porter wins the first few stanzas and championship rounds but will come up short in a split decision. Prediction: Thurman by split decision.
Michael Baca (UCNLive/RingTV.com)
You’d be hard-pressed to argue against Thurman-Porter being one of the best match-ups in boxing today and, while there was a bit of a speed bump with this fight happening three months after its original fight date, the notion still holds true. Both are in their physical primes and the only loss between the two came from an undefeated (now) titleholder within the division. Porter, 28, took that loss to Kell Brook in August 2014 and, even though he is regarded as the physical bully in this fight, he was the one bulldozed and outpointed by the Brit. A little less than a year later, Porter coerced a smaller Adrien Broner to a unanimous decision for his biggest victory to date. Thurman, 27, doesn’t have a single fight that can compare to those two in terms of a prime match-up; however, it’s still unknown how he reacts to a stage and match-up like this one. In-game adjustments serve as the crux of whom I think will win this fight. In Porter’s corner is his father, Kenny, and while he has constructed a consummate professional, they were incapable of making the proper adjustments against Brook. In Thurman’s corner is Dan Birmingham, a remarkable trainer out of Florida, unrelated to Thurman but somewhat of a second sire. History has shown emotions can be overbearing for a father-trainer combo and, in a match-up in which either can conceivably win, I think Thurman and his corner make the proper adjustments against an otherwise one-dimensional fighter in Porter. Prediction: Thurman by majority decision.
Bill Tibbs (UCNLive)
Power – Both have decent pop; neither one appears as a one-punch, fight-ending guy but both have some power if you walk into the wrong shot. Conditioning – Both are always in very good shape and conditioning hasn’t been something that has hampered either fighter in his career. Boxing – I like what both guys have in terms of their ability to box and move in setting up their shots. I see an edge in movement to Keith Thurman. Concerning how Shawn Porter was handled by Kell Brook, maybe he underestimated him but, at times, he didn’t appear to have a “Plan B.” I like this fight as I see both fighters making a case to find a way to win. I liked how Porter looked against Adrien Broner but Thurman brings more options than Broner. I see Thurman as the guy who will be able to keep Porter off him with a strong jab and movement. If Porter could get to him and work his body he might be able to slow Thurman down and bang him. But I see Thurman by UD in a good, competitive fight. Great fight, fans win in this one!
Jimmy Tobin (UCNLive)
In a clash of hyperbolic proportions, a fighter with seemingly no concept of space meets a fighter more and more reliant on it. Thurman, the more natural boxer, will land the flashier punches at a rate proportionate to the degree of threat he perceives. Porter will do his best to be threatening in his gridiron way, his effort as long as his technique is short. He seems at a loss with what to do with his quarry once he catches it (tackle? headlock? mercy fight?). Still, even against the house fighter, Porter’s hunting should be better received than Thurman’s eventual evasion. Porter’s struggles then, could very well give the impression of success. Porter will win, ditto Errol Spence Jr.’s reputation.
Coyote Duran (UCNLive/RingTV.com)
It’s funny how some pundits screw up the temerity to dismiss this fight as something that doesn’t feature two top 147-pounders, much less two reasonably evenly-matched guys. (Keith Thurman is a half-inch taller than Shawn Porter; Porter has a half-inch reach advantage on Thurman.) Ultimately, these cats suffer from guilt by association as representatives of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions and that’s something we’re all going to have to get over, lest we taint our expectations before first bell. Neither man has a truly distinct advantage over the other, when one considers time away from the ring (a speck over a year for Porter, almost a full year for Thurman). Porter’s level of opposition over, say, the past three years has been better – but not by much, really. Porter comes off as the fireplug, low-center of gravity sort. He’s like a little rhino just itching to gore the more mobile Thurman, who will have to concentrate on fighting his fight and not stooping to fighting Porter’s fight. As long as he can stay elusive and stay busy while staying mobile for 12 rounds, Thurman will retain the WBA welterweight title. However, Porter might get a little bit of leeway, despite Thurman’s best efforts. I could see Thurman’s effort, if scored correctly, netting him a sweeping unanimous decision. That said, realistically, I see the bout ending in a split decision win with Porter grabbing a 115-113 scorecard and Thurman picking up scores of 119-109 and a goofy115-113. Odds are, we’ll end up with a draw.
Thurman-Porter was originally scheduled to take place in March of this year but was delayed because of an apparent whiplash injury of Thurman in a car wreck. Here is the “10 Count” episode we filmed prior to the cancellation of the fight.