Photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing
This weekend all eyes are on the welterweight division. Keith “One Time” Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) and “Showtime” Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) will face each other on Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. For those who thought the welterweight division was cooling off, Thurman and Porter are about to heat it up.
Here’s what to expect: Thurman is a gnarly puncher with refined technical skill. Porter is a savage beast that cannot be contained. Mostly like Thurman is going to want to throw some devastating blow while boxing cleanly on the outside. Porter is going to want to get his hands all the way dirty.
Thurman vs. Porter is definitely a fight you don’t want to miss. This is one of the best match ups the division has seen in some time.
Let’s break down the fighters’ profiles, strengths and weaknesses to see which man gets the edge.
Tale of the Tape
|Record:||26-0, 22 KOs||26-1, 16 KOs|
|Weight:||147 lbs.||147 lbs.|
|Hometown:||Clearwater, FL||Las Vegas, NV|
Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter are a solid matchup if we take a look at the tape. Both orthodox fighters are about the same height, age and have just about the same reach and number of fights. The main difference we’ll see between the two in this fight are their styles. Thurman has more of a boxing style, while Porter loves to rough it.
Though Porter has the longer reach by a half inch, Thurman shouldn’t be troubled by this small advantage, since he prefers to work on the outside more than his opponent.
Thurman can easily outbox and beat Porter with lots of jabs and crosses if he doesn’t want him to close the distance.
Porter isn’t known for his jab or outside work, but instead prefers to work on the inside. His slightly longer arms may come in handy for clinching, which he does often in fights.
Interestingly, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter aren’t strangers to one another. In fact, the two grew up together, and even their coaches know each other well. You might call the two foes given the circumstance, but it’s evident that there is a mutual respect between Porter and Thurman.
After respect is confidence. Each man knows what he brings to the table and what he needs to do to win.
“We’re looking forward to this fight,” said Thurman’s trainer, Dan Birmingham (via ESPN). “Me, Keith and the Porters go way back, but sometimes you have to fight your friends. These two guys are both at the top of their games, and the best man is going to win.”
Thurman, who’s never at a loss for words, had a lot of positive things to say about his opponent. “This is a tremendous fight,” he said at a press conference for the fight back in April. “Arguably the best matchup of the year. We’re going to work our butts off to make it the Fight of the Year.”
At the same conference Porter said, “I wasn’t surprised that Keith said he would knock me out. He has to pump himself up and be confident.”
Porter isn’t off base with his analysis. Keith Thurman is a big talker, but so far he’s put his record where is mouth is.
Porter continued: “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.”
Strengths for Each Man
Keith Thurman is a perfect match for Shawn Porter. Not because they’re the same fighter, but because he has the right balance of boxing finesse and being unafraid to get his hands dirty.
There’s a ruthlessness to Thurman’s identity as a fighter, but we don’t often see this kind of quality refined by technical skill.
Power and will are Thurman’s most dangerous qualities. He’s hungry to win, and his ability to hit and do damage is one of his best assets.
Thurman also has a better boxing IQ than Porter, which is bound to help him in the fight. Not to mention, Thurman has improved after just about every fight. He’s learned to capitalize off his other skills (i.e. speed, footwork) to outbox his opponents.
Shawn Porter’s unpredictability should be Keith Thurman’s greatest concern. Porter is an awkward, hyperactive and unrefined fighter which makes him difficult to deal with in the ring. He’s also strong and able to throw multiple combinations that often flush his opponent.
Besides being unpredictable, Porter’s ugly style of fighting is one of his great strengths in this fight. He can be troublesome for a fighter that isn’t ready to get dirty with him.
Without question, Porter is going to rough Thurman up with lots of “jumpy” movement, combinations and clinching.
If Thurman can’t neutralize Porter, he’s going to become increasingly frustrated and vulnerable.
Weaknesses for Each Man
One of my concerns for Keith Thurman this weekend is the amount of time since his last fight. He faced Luis Collazo late last year and has not fought anyone since. Originally, the fight with Shawn Porter was scheduled for early March, but was postponed after Thurman suffered injuries from a car accident.
Thurman has to be super sharp going into the ring with someone like Porter. The chance that he will have ring rust is certainly a possibility.
While Thurman has demonstrated great improvement over the course of his career, I often worry that he will become too “power happy” during fights. In other words, he can become so preoccupied with trying to knock out his opponent that he doesn’t use his other skills to beat them.
There is also a chance that Porter’s fighting style is too rough for Thurman’s liking, which may lead to frustration on his part. Or worse, he may end up making costly mistakes.
Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime
Shawn Porter’s wild style is what makes him intimidating and susceptible to danger. We saw this in his last fight, where being too sloppy resulted in Adrien Broner sending Porter to the canvas.
Porter can usually get away with his sloppy style when his opponent is overwhelmed or unable to keep up with the pace. However, he’ll find himself in deep trouble if Keith Thurman can figure him out quickly and neutralize his hyperactivity.
One of Porter’s most costly flaws his is lack of defense. He depends on his athleticism to get away with having his hands down, but it simply doesn’t work against an accurate fighter.
Interestingly, when we see Porter get tagged with a lot of punches, he doesn’t sharpen up. He continues to fight the same way and expect different results. This way of thinking separates Porter and Thurman as fighters. Thurman thinks more like a boxer, while Porter thinks like a brawler.
Winner and Why
Photo by Ed Mulholland/Golden Boy Promotions
I believe that in this fight we’re going to see a more developed and well-rounded Keith Thurman. Shawn Porter is a perfect opponent to cement Thurman’s elevated status in the Welterweight division.
While this matchup is a close one, I give Thurman the edge. He has the boxing IQ to outsmart Porter, and the power to give his opponent plenty to think about.
Porter is a great test for Thurman because we’ll see how well he deals with adversity and unpredictability. Thurman winning this fight will hopefully open up more talks for strong matchups in the division, such as Errol Spence Jr.
I predict that Thurman will win this fight by at least majority decision and score a knockdown or two in the process.