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Thurman Narrowly Beats Porter – Brooklyn, NY – A close fight was expected, and that’s exactly what the 12,718 souls at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center got when unbeaten welterweight kingpin Keith Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) kept his streak alive by the slimmest of margins against tough-as-nails Shawn Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) in a 12-round welterweight title fight that featured action from bell to bell – and left the call for an immediate rematch reverberating through the entire venue.

Floyd Mayweather’s undisputed welterweight throne was up for grabs, but not his aura as the sport’s most visible fighter, a task that appeared too large for either of tonight’s fighters to attain. But in the end, Thurman set himself on a path to become just as dominant and relevant as Mayweather at least in the realm of the elite 147-pound division with this gritty and gutsy win over a superbly fit and talented former champion.

In the first round, Thurman scored the first meaningful punch with a long-distance hook before the round turned into the customary caution-first round of study for both of them, featuring a lot of movement for both. Porter tried to take charge by pushing forward, but Thurman waited for his onslaught and countered brilliantly.

In the second round, Porter tried a more physical approach, putting pressure on Thurman on the ropes while scoring heavily to the body on the inside. Thurman countered with limited success with wide hooks.

In the third, Porter kept the pressure on while resorting to holding and the occasional low blow to keep Thurman in check. But towards the end of the episode, Thurman caught the incoming Porter with a salvo of hooks and crosses that sent him reeling backwards, and Porter responded by springing back into the action and scoring a few bombs of his own to put the crowd on its feet.

The fourth round featured some of the best action up to that point, with Porter charging aggressively and landing three bombs only to be sent back by Thurman with a few inspired counters. The round then became a wild swinging affair, with both fighters firing for effect and no one gaining any significant ground.

The fifth round saw Thurman scoring accurately from the mid-range every time he could step out of Porter’s asphyxiating pressure. The sixth saw Porter improve his punching rate and his accuracy but Thurman remained the stronger of the two.

Going into the second half of the scheduled 12-rounder, both fighters seemed to start showing signs of wear and tear, slowing down their efforts slightly. In the second half of the round, Porter scored a terrific counter over the top to win the round and pull ahead in the scorecards.

The eighth had Thurman insisting on his retreat-and-counterpunch tactic, and that left Porter with the task of following up on his terrific pressure job up to that point. Porter scored a solid shot to the body to accentuate his winning effort in the round. In the ninth, Thurman had Porter cornered and appeared to hesitate before punching him at the end of a combination, and Porter seized the chance by countering beautifully and setting the mood of the rest of a great round for him, in which Thurman received a cut on his left eyebrow that was ruled the product of a punch by referee Steve Willis.

The tenth had Thurman trying to regain his foothold when a terrific left hook of his sent Porter reeling back to the red corner, where a toe-to-toe slugfest ensued for the reminder of the round. The eleventh featured a solid left hook by Thurman in the early going, but Porter seemed to have more energy and movement which resulted in a solid round for him.

The final round went to Thurman by the slightest margin, with Porter following him around the ring ineffectively and Thurman scoring the few meaningful punches off the ropes, where Porter seemed intent on forcing the action.

The scorecards were 115-113 for Thurman across the board. This reporter had it 115-113 for Thurman as well in a very disputed fight that was ultimately decided by Thurman’s more authoritative punches.

“I want to thank Shawn Porter for a tremendous fight, he’s a great warrior”, said Thurman after the bout. “Defense is the key to victory He smothers his punches a lot and makes it difficult for the judges to score. I was able to rock him with clear, effective blows and I believe that was the difference today.”

Porter felt he had done enough to grab the nod.

“At the end of the day, I’m blessed,” said Porter. “I think I won the fight, but I’m satisfied because the competitor came out tonight.”

The call for a return bout began to be chanted down from all four corners of the arena, and it was echoed by Porter as well.

“We need that rematch. I know the fans want that rematch,” said Porter. “If he gives me another chance, I’m going to work hard in the ring and leave with his title.”

The Undercard

A mild upset took place in a bout between unbeaten young contenders, in which slight favorite and former Olympian Oscar Molina lost his unbeaten status to Jarret Hurd when their junior middleweight 10-rounder was stopped in the final round, in a fight that was upgraded to co-main event after the cancellation of the Jesus Cuellar-Abner Mares featherweight title bout.

Hurd (18-0, 12 KOs) and Molina (13-1-1, 10 KOs) came out swinging in the first round, and midway through the episode a thudding right uppercut surprisingly put Molina on the seat of his pants, to the roaring delight of the crowd. Molina spent rounds two and three regrouping and doing some damage control – and very little damage of his own, although he did get a very narrow edge on Hurd just by connecting at a slightly higher rate.

However, Hurd regained control in round five and never relinquished it, scoring almost at will during the second portion of the bout and keeping the pressure on the beleaguered Molina with accurate hooks and straight rights. Molina did find a useful tool in his overhand counter right, but when Hurd landed four uncontested left hooks in a row in round six, the general notion was that the fight was pretty much in his hands.

Molina weakened noticeably in round 9, and was holding on gracefully in the final scheduled episode when referee Ricky Gonzalez saw no further reason to allow the beating to continue.

In regards of the stoppage, the fighters had conflicting opinions.

“I can’t see what the ref sees. He was hurt a couple of times. I don’t think it was a bad stoppage”, said Hurd. “Molina is a very tough guy who just kept coming through.”

“I felt like Hurd was throwing a lot of punches in the tenth round but they weren’t really hurting me,” expressed Molina. “He was staying busy but he was never really hurting me”.

Earlier on, scrappy and tough local female favorite Heather Hardy improved to 17-0 (4 KOs) with a win over a willing Kirstie Simmons (8-2, 2 KOs) in a featherweight 8-rounder.

The biggest controversy of the night took place in the bout before this one, when David Benavidez improved to 15-0 (14) after a completely inappropriate stoppage of Francy Ntetu (16-1, 3 KOs). Ntetu was putting together a terrific effort against the favored Benavidez when referee Shada Murdaugh decided to call a halt to the bout for no apparent reason whatsoever. The official time was 1:30 of round seven. Murdaugh left the arena amidst a shower of boos.

Other Results:

Regis Prograis TKO 4 Luis Eduardo Florez 10 rounds super lightweights

Adam Kownacki TKO 3 Jesse Barboza 8 rounds heavyweights

Jonathan Alonso UD Brian Jones 6 rounds welterweights

Jose Vargas UD Ryan Picou 4 rounds welterweights

Nicklaus Flaz KO 1 Mack Babb 4 rounds super welterweights

Thurman Narrowly Beats Porter

 

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