All parties involved in Tuesday’s Showtime Championship Boxing on CBS press conference kept matters civil until Keith Thurman declared his intentions to finish Shawn Porter at their June 25 bout.
Trainers Kenny Porter and Dan Birmingham exchanged pleasantries (Porter complimented Thurman’s power, Birmingham referred to Porter as a friend) before “One Time” took the stage.
“June 25, my friend is about to become my enemy,” said Thurman.
“This is going to be a fight you don’t want to miss, and I’m sorry to say it, but it’s going to be a knockout you don’t want to miss either. I love you bro, but I’m going to have to do my best to put you to sleep.”
The 28-year-old former IBF Welterweight title holder, Porter appeared taken aback by Thurman’s brash remarks. The native of Akron, Ohio used his stage time to express mutual respect between he and Thurman, vowing to “put on a show.” In a post-press conference media scrum, Porter expressed skepticism toward his opponent’s claims.
“I wasn’t surprised that Keith said he would knock me out,” said Porter.
“He has to pump himself up and be confident. When he looked at me I think he was trying to convince me that he was being real and I was looking at him to find out if he was convinced. He thinks he’s going to knock me out, I say he’s not. I’m going to do everything it takes to beat him and make it look easy.”
The matchup between Thurman and Porter was initially set to take place on March 12, before a car accident forced “One Time” to withdraw from the fight. Having had his bout successfully rescheduled on free TV (taking place June 25 on CBS), Thurman cited the event as an opportunity to raise his profile in the Welterweight division.
“People talk about replacing Floyd Mayweather, but you can’t become the man without beating all the people in front of you,” said Thurman.
“I anticipate most of the welterweight division being in attendance on June 25. The situation that division is in right now is that we’re all in a frenzy. Everyone wants the spotlight and everyone wants to be the top dog. We all have that opportunity.”
Both Porter and Thurman will enter their main event bout with considerable momentum. The undefeated Thurman tallied wins over Luis Collazo and Robert Guerrero in his 2015 campaign, while “Showtime” dulled Adrien Broner‘s momentum with a unanimous decision victory in June of 2015.
Porter has been defeated just once in his career (by current IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook) but will still enter his bout at Barclays Center as a substantial underdog.
“This is, so far, the fastest selling boxing event in the history of the Barclays Center,” promoter Lou DiBella noted.
“These are two of the most cerebral guys in boxing. This is what it’s all about… the best fighting the best with the outcome in doubt. This is the best our sport can be.”
Thurman and Porter’s showdown will be supported by a WBA Featherweight title bout in the night’s co-main event, as Jesus Cuellar will take on Abner Mares.
All photos by Amanda Westcott/Showtime