The welterweight division’s new look after last year's retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr. took shape Saturday with the announcement that unbeaten Keith Thurman will fight former champion Shawn Porter on March 12.
In a news conference before Saturday night’s World Boxing Council welterweight bout between unbeaten Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero at Staples Center, Thurman and Porter discussed their World Boxing Assn. match, which will be televised by CBS from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.
“I showed the world in my last fights that I could handle it like a true champion,” said Thurman (26-0, 22 knockouts).
“This fight should have happened last year if you ask me. I knew the potential of the matchup and at the time they knew they didn’t want that fight. I asked for this fight when Porter was the IBF champion and I was not a champion.”
Talk of a Thurman-Porter bout has been ongoing since September, but a difficult negotiation and a problematic search for the right date and site delayed the deal from being finalized.
“They know that we have wanted this fight for a long time. It has marinated long enough,” said the 27-year-old Thurman, who labeled Porter's allegations that he was running from the bout as “lies and more lies.”
Asked about the keys to victory, the power-punching Thurman responded, “As many keys as I want to pull out. We have lots of keys we can use that night. I will not let Shawn Porter outwork me. We believe that is his key to victory and I will not allow him to outbox me.”
The 28-year-old Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) is trained by his father, Ken, and counts Shane Mosley as one of his sparring partners.
“I just sparred with Shane this morning," Porter said. “I’m going to put it down, [be] impressive and look good. Everything else will take care of itself.
“Keith hasn’t fought anyone like me. By the time the fight comes, I’ll be eager to let my hands go. I know I’ll be focused and feeling good that night.”
The title fight will be CBS' first prime-time boxing event since Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali by decision on Feb. 15, 1978.