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Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter: The Road To The Barclays, Part I

An exploration into WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman and his next opponent, Showtime Shawn Porter live on CBS at the Barclays Center on June 25th.

An exploration into WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman and his next opponent, Showtime Shawn Porter live on CBS at the Barclays Center on June 25th.

Shawn Porter & Keith Thurman

(Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

History is a wonderful thing, especially when shared with another. 

However, when the stakes inevitably become higher in Boxing due to glories achieved and recognized on a world scale, it is a truism that two peers and friends might have to engage each other in combat to better their position in the global pecking order of their game.


In boxing, the real implication of loss is devastating and its a fact that puts friendship aside, replaced by ambitious competitive abandon.


Keith Thurman working out

(Photo Credit: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions)

Ive been looking forward to fighting Shawn Porter ever since he got on Showtime and I got on HBO, said Keith One Time Thurman.

I knew that eventually that our paths would meet because I watched him grow up in the amateurs, I just know his skill set, I know his drive, his determination.


Since they were 17 years old theyve been crossing paths, never testing each others mettle for the amateur record and never eventually for their professional records. Having been trained initially by Ben Getty and then Dan Birmingham after Gettys unfortunate passing, Thurman watched Porter and his father-trainer, Kenny Porter with interest as they switched from a youth football-boxing mix to strictly boxing.

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The Porter's training

(Photo Credit: Ryan Greene / Premier Boxing Champions)


The kid from Cleveland who never cut weight to maintain his football edge now got familiar with a sauna and nutrition plan, moving into Thurmans weight class where the talent pool offerings were deepest and the belts that much more shiny.

Just hearing that Shawn turned pro and that hes working his way down to the welterweight division, I knew that him and his father are obviously taking everything very seriously, said Thurman. Shawn obviously doesnt have the height to be competing at 160 pounds, it would be a tremendous challenge.

The two first tasted each others leather back in 2012 when Thurman was poised to face Marcos Maidana and the Porters were called in to be sparring partners. The few weeks that they spent together was surely an unsaid measuring contest as both fighter and trainer could now better understand what they may be facing in the future up close and personal in the St. Pete Boxing Club. 

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Marcos Maidana eventually pulled out, and Thurman fought Orlando Lora, winning by TKO in the 6th round. But the training set the mood for the future pairing

We sparred for about two weeks together, but it was a while ago, said Porter at a recent media workout in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. The biggest change has been mental and there are things you learn and grow out of. I’m a lot different.



We really got nothing but love and respect for one another,” said Thurman. 


NYC Press Conference

(Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

The world stood still during their April 26th NYC press conference when Thurman took the mic, looked at Shawn Porter and declared, My friend is about to become my enemy. June 25th, I’m doing my best to put you to sleep.”

With that statement the gauntlet was thrown as Thurman made no secret about his bad intentions on CBS prime time. Everyone is only a KO away from reality, but to say it to a friend is another thing all together.

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With love and respect Im not going to treat you special. Youre going to get the same thump-thump everybody else gets, Thurman told me about his press conference knockout declaration.


Keith Thurman workout

(Photo Credit: Eric Walker/Premier Boxing Champions)

Only time will prove who will be the better man in Brooklyn this weekend. The road to Barclays has been one under construction since they last donned amateur headgear.

For Thurman it couldnt be soon enough.

There comes a time in ones life where youve got to throw things aside to do what you need to do in business and right now hes in my way and Im in his way so weve got to go toe-to-toe and get this over with.


Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the
PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider’s take featuring the world’s biggest names.