Thurman-Porter – This past weekend WBA welterweight title-holder Keith Thurman 27-0 (22) won a unanimous 12-round decision over top contender Shawn Porter 26-2-1 (16) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. As most know I loved this match-up from the very second it was made. In my view Thurman-Porter represented everything that is, or at least could be, good about professional boxing at its highest level. And based on the result, I was right. Thurman-Porter as of June 2016 is no doubt the fight of the year. The bout was nothing but sustained action for 12 rounds with each combatant trying to impose his will and style on the other. When it was over Thurman kept his title by the scores of 115-113 by all three judges, which translates to him winning seven rounds to five, which is the score I tabulated while watching the fight live and in the moment.
Back in January when the bout was first signed I wrote…”Boxing is a sport that is only exciting and fun to watch when it features competitive and give-and-take match-ups. When those dynamics are in play, it’s the greatest sport in the world. However, when there is an A side and a B side in every pairing it loses its luster, and that pertains to the big fights as well.” And if we know one thing there certainly wasn’t a B-side fighter in the ring this past weekend. No sir, Keith and Shawn were both unrelenting, and looking back, if either one of them attempted to jab and box a little bit more, it may have been an easier night for them — perhaps not as fan friendly of a fight, but a little less physically taxing on the fighters.
That said, you know what else stands out about the fight besides both guys fighting their rear-ends off and giving the fans what they came to see? How about the judges, all three of them getting it right and actually viewing the same fight everyone else did. I was almost certain that with a bout that closely contested that there’d be one judge who would submit a card that was beyond comprehension, but no, it didn’t go down like that. The judges were actually in unison and saw that — most likely due to a little bit better ring generalship — Thurman edged it out. And yes, a fight can be unanimous but also very close. Sure, there were a couple of swing rounds, but in the main when Thurman didn’t get trapped along the ropes or in one of the corners, he got slightly the better of it. And even at that it probably came down to the 11th and 12th rounds.
Something else that stood out was the class and professionalism both fighters exhibited at ring center when the bout was over. Thurman basically said the fight was close and he can understand how Porter could perhaps feel as though he edged it out. Keith also said that he would be willing to fight Shawn again; something that would no doubt be a huge draw and please boxing fans. In the other corner, Porter was a class act and didn’t cry or complain about a narrow decision that you know inside he really thought should’ve gone his way.
Again, I ask, how often do we see two world class fighters jump at the chance to fight their equal, and then on fight night deliver beyond anyone’s expectation? Then when it’s over and the decision is announced, the judges for once actually saw the same fight that most of the fans watching saw. If we don’t know anything else, it’s a rarity that in a close fight all three judges seldom agree. It was great being wrong in that I expected one of the judges to hand in a card that was out in left field. And I loved that both guys offered high praise for the other after neither one proved to be superior over the other.
Yes, Thurman vs. Porter was everything that can be beautiful and wonderful about professional boxing, even in 2016. Hopefully Keith and Shawn will set a precedent and contenders in the other divisions will follow suit and fight the best of the best. And the reality is, Thurman earned the decision, but it’s not like Porter lost. Having an “L” to Thurman on his record doesn’t move me to not want to watch Porter fight again; actually it’s the opposite. Prior to the bout I knew he was the genuine article and it took everything Thurman had mentally and physically to edge Porter out. Not only would I love to see them fight each other again, I am looking forward to seeing them fight again against any one of the other top contenders in the welterweight division.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com