LOS ANGELES — The long-awaited, long-talked-about welterweight showdown between undefeated WBA champion Keith Thurman and top challenger Shawn Porter was officially announced Saturday at the famed Palm Restaurant downtown.
The fight will take place March 12 at Mohegan Sun Casino and Hotel in Uncasville, Conn. It will air on CBS at 8:30 p.m. ET, the first prime-time fight on the network in nearly 40 years. The last such boxing match on CBS was Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks on Feb. 15, 1978.
Thurman-Porter is one of the top three fights that can be made in boxing today, along with Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward.
Thurman and Porter have been talking about this matchup for the last year or so, and rumors swirled over the last several months that it was going to happen (originally slated for December). It was not officially set until Saturday, though.
“Thurman vs. Porter is a marquee matchup of two elite boxers in the prime of their careers, and the winner will establish himself as arguably the No. 1 fighter in boxing’s glamour division,” said Showtime Sports boss Stephen Espinoza. “Fights of this caliber don’t come along very often, and when they do, they deserve to be on the biggest stage possible.”
Thurman, 27, has talked about replacing the retired Floyd Mayweather as the face of the welterweight division, and even boxing overall. He is 26-0 with 22 KOs, the most recent coming against Luis Collazo last July in Tampa, near Thurman’s hometown of Clearwater, Fla.
The highly touted welterweight, rated No. 4 by Boxing Junkie at 147 pounds, was chosen to fight in PBC’s debut shows on NBC and ESPN. Now, he’ll add CBS in prime time to the list (all previous PBC on CBS shows have been in the afternoon.)
Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) and his trainer/father, Kenny Porter, have accused Thurman of ducking the fight, but Thurman called that “nothing but a lie.” Porter suffered his first loss in August 2014 to the United Kingdom’s Kell Brook, but won both his fights in 2015, including a unanimous decision against Adrien Broner in June, though he was knocked down for the first time in his career in the 12th round of that fight.
Porter said he is confident in his ability to hand Thurman his first career defeat. “That’s why I’ve been looking forward to this fight because I’m someone who can beat Keith Thurman,” he said. “Nothing about Keith really makes me nervous. I do know that he’s going to be ready for this fight.
“He’s a fighter that has the heart of a lion just like I do. I expect this to be a fight to the finish. A win over Keith Thurman is what we’ve been waiting for.”
Thurman, one of boxing’s rising stars, called 2015 an amazing year for him.
“I headlined the very first Premier Boxing Champions show and was named PBC Fighter of the Year,” the long-haired fighter said. “But this is my year to dominate the welterweight division and I’m excited to be getting ready to take out Shawn Porter.
“I am ready to get back in the ring and bring boxing fans what they’ve been looking for — the top true welterweight champion of the world, the one who is going to take out all competitors one by one.”