Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter: The Road To The Barclays, Pt. II

It was in Cleveland, Ohio that they took an hour-long walk. Not an arbitrary stroll eschewing normal happenstances of life. No, they took a real long walk and engaged in a real deep talk.

A son needed to explain the ultimate revelation to his father that could either make him extremely disappointed or proud of his son for taking a stand.

Shawn Porter, for years, carefully balanced football, boxing and good grades and was approaching the finale of his senior year in high school. Football letters were pouring in. The time was ripe to decide where he wanted to go.

Shawn Porter

(Photo Credit: Ryan Greene / Premier Boxing Champions)

He said, Im going to box and I want you to train me,” said Kenny Porter. “He had already made up his mind on what he was going to do.

In 2007, Shawn won the World Golden Gloves Championships and was ranked number one nationally. His amateur wins include ones over current standouts Danny Jacobs and Demetrious Andrade. However, he was just as effective in football, earning all conference honors his junior and senior years at Stow-Munroe Falls High School.

He maintained a weight of 175 pounds for football, then dropped 10 pounds for boxing in the off-season. Standing at 5-foot-7, football programs told him he would have to move up to 190 while adding 15 more pounds of muscle to be effective on the college gridiron .

Shawn Porter

(Photo Credit: Double Pillar Athletics)

The weight-cutting gradient to return to his boxing weight and continuing life as a two-sport athlete would have been too steep, and Shawn realized a choice had to be made. 

At a young age, I found out what I wanted to be, said Shawn Porter.

A man of faith and positivity, Porter draws his inspiration both from his parents and his God, whom he credits for fortifying him amid the tumultuous rancor of the boxing business.

My mom said, Everybody has gifts that God gave them and you have to figure out what those gifts are and use them to honor Him,” said Porter. “And thats how I am.

As Shawn made waves as a junior middleweight, going 12-0 before picking up his first minor professional belt with a unanimous decision win over Russell Jordan in Cleveland, his father was heating up as a coach.

Kenny Porter

(Kenny Porter, Photo Credit: Ryan Greene / Premier Boxing Champions)

He coached his two sons and another boxer, Tiger McDowell, who all won the nationals. His chops with USA Boxing developed and he became a level-four trainer and clinician that certified other trainers.

In 2008, five of his athletes made it to the Olympic trials, with three of them making the team. Then in 2012, he was named technical coach for the Olympic team in London, which boasted a class that included Errol Spence, Jr., Marcus Browne, Raushee Warren and Dominic Breazeale.

Kenny was on the rise, but so was Shawn, who decided to switch weight classes and pursue the deeper welterweight division.

I made the decision to be with Shawn on a co-main event of a Showtime World Championship boxing match and he was successful, said Kenny. He won fight of the year on that particular fight where he beat Alfonso Gomez for the NABF welterweight title.

Keith Thurman

(Keith Thurman, Photo Credit: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions)

It was also for that fight that the Porters decided to help a young fighter they had seen in the amateurs name Keith Thurman, who han an upcoming scheduled bout against Marcos Maidana. Maidana was eventually replaced by Orlando Lora.

I wanted this fight for a long time, said Shawn. I saw where his career was going and obviously I was moving up as well. I always knew it was kind of a collision course that we would eventually fight.

Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman

(Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

Thurman TKOd Lora in the 6th round, then went on a tear. He racked up belts and eventually secured and defended the WBA World welterweight title two times against Roberto Guerrero and Luis Collazo.

It became a thing where people were recognizing him as one of the best guys in my division and thats when it became, ‘Ive got to beat him,’ said Shawn. “So I made that a goal of mine a few years ago.

Porter soared, landing the IBF World welterweight title from Devon Alexander and defending it successfully in devastating fashion, knocking out Paulie Malignaggi in four rounds.

Then he met Briton Kell Brook, who many feel controversially beat Shawn via majority decision. Brook relentlessly held Porter in the bout with no points deducted, a consequence suffered later by Adrien Broner when he held Porter too much in their pairing.

Porter loses to Kell Brook

(Shawn Porter loses IBF welterweight title to Kell Brook, Photo Credit: Bleacher Report) 

Porter lost his undefeated ranking, but rebounded by knocking out Erick Bone and beating Broner via unanimous decision.

I have a guy in front of me who essentially is everything that I am:  young, vibrant, punches hard, punches fast, the whole nine yards,” said Porter. “Beating a guy like that establishes who you are.

Shawn Porter

(Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

The road to the Barclays Center this Saturday is one made from real life choices that has culminated into a battle of todays stars in their respective primes.

The event rivals the epic war between Sugar Ray Leonard, who held the WBC welterweight title, and Tommy Hearns, the WBA champion, that took place on September 16th 1981.

Fight Poster

Leonard had a record of 30-1 with 21 KOs. Hearns’ resume was 32-0 with 30 KOs.

“Guys have continued to say that, whoever wins this fight, will be the number one guy in the division, filling Mayweather’s shoes,” said Shawn on the final media call. “I want to do more than just fill those shoes. I want to be the guy that if Mayweather comes back, you better come back to Showtime Shawn Porter because he’s the best fighter out there in the division.”

Leonard KOs Hearns

(Sugar Ray Leonard KOs Tommy Hearns, Photo Credit: Sugar Ray Leonard Gallery) 

In the 14th round of that 1981 fight, Leonard turned the tide, becoming the undisputed champion in the welterweight division in surprising knockout fashion. This new battle, 35 years later, has all the makings of a similar war, with the definite adulation of the best welterweight going to the victor.

Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter

(Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

Ive done things to this point to make people recognize me and say, ‘That guy’s really good,.” said Porter. “Some people have even called me great. But I think beating someone like Keith Thurman really solidifies me as a great fighter, and I want that.

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