NEW YORK—Keith Thurman successfully defended his WBA welterweight belt against challenger Shawn Porter at Barclays Center on Saturday in one of the most exciting fights of the year. While it was a narrow victory for Thurman, it was a big overall win for boxing, with the action-packed fight broadcasted on a major network.
All three judges scored the 12-round fight 115-113. International Business Times scored the fight 115-114.
The fight, the first on CBS prime time since Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks in 1978, was marked by furious exchanges with Porter often looking a bit more like the aggressor than the undefeated champion. However, Thurman appeared to land the cleaner power punches, and connected on more of them.
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The raucus crowd of 12,718 was often caught in awe of both fighters' ability to push hard despite vicious power punches. When ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. read that the judges' scorecards were unanimous with the same scores, the boos came ringing out.
"I want to thank Shawn Porter for a tremendous fight, he’s a great warrior,” said Thurman. “Defense is the key to victory. He smothers his punches a lot and makes it difficult for the judges to score. I was able to rock him with clear, effective blows and I believe that was the difference today.
“It’s all about defense. I had a great defense today.”
After the fight, Porter received cheers when he referenced a possible rematch. It was just the second loss for the Ohio native. He previously tasted defeat against highly regarded British boxer Kell Brook in August 2014.
"At the end of the day, I'm blessed," Porter said. "We worked hard, Keith is a great champion. My dad says to keep your head up. I think I won the fight, but I'm satisfied because the competitor came out tonight.
"We need that rematch. I know the fans want that rematch. If he gives me another chance, I'm going to work hard in the ring and leave with his title."
In the post-fight press conference, promoter Lou DiBella said Porter was taken to a hospital for observation.
In the earlier fight, Jarrett Hurd won by a TKO in the 10th round over Oscar Molina in a battle of undefeated junior middleweights.
Preview: Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 knockouts) and Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16 knockouts) are not household names, but the two hard punchers will battle for the WBA welterweight title at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday night on CBS in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
Thurman has emerged as one of the division's best boxers following the retirements of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, and could be in line for a big payday in 2017 with a good showing. Porter has defeated some of the bigger names in the division, with his lone defeat coming in a majority decision against undefeated IBF champion Kell Brook.
The fight is expected to be competitive, with Thurman owning a narrow edge. The Florida native shouldn't take Porter lightly, but he can control the tempo of the fight with his effective jab that sets up his power punches.
“I have power, but focus on the technique. You have to execute before acquiring the knockout,” Thurman said. “You have to play the game before you hit a home run, right?”
Coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET, but the Thurman-Porter bout should begin a little after 10 p.m., after the Jarrett Hurd vs. Oscar Molina junior middleweight fight. The judges for the main event are Eric Marlinski, Waleska Roldan and Steve Weisfeld. The referee is Steve Willis.
Here is how International Business Times scores the Thurman-Porter fight:
In the opening minute, Porter looked like the more aggressive fighter. Porter maintained the pressure with Thurman missing with some power punches. In the final minute, Thurman was able to land a decent right hand. Tight round.
Porter was able to connect on some solid power punches in the first two minutes and had Thurman on the ropes. Thurman didn't appear hurt, and rallied with a good flurry later in the round. Porter seems to be the aggressor.
Thurman landed a good left hook in the first minute, but it didn't seem to faze Porter. The Ohio native responded with a combo of his own. Thurman has used his reach advantage to effectively use his jab. A late rally by both fighters is making this fight very interesting.
Some quiet moments in this round, but Thurman was able to get some good shots in. A big exchange in the final minute got this crowd going. Porter doing some chasing, and both fighters going for the knockout punch that isn't there.
Porter finally using his jab after four rounds, while Thurman seems to be favoring a big left. Porter had Thurman on the ropes, but didn't seem to hurt him. Neither boxer showing much defense.
Porter with a good left jab just before the second minute, but he isn't using it effectively. Thurman was able to connect on a good right hand, and may have more of such punches if Porter continues to leave himself open. Tough round to score.
Thurman looking a bit less active. Porter slipped in the round, and Thurman was able to jump on the situation. But Porter was able to unleash some hard combinations. The crowd is pleased in Brooklyn.
Thurman looked sharper in the opening minute, but was forced to dodge Porter. At about the 1:15 mark, Porter landed some good shots. This has been an excellent fight, and somewhat difficult to call. Lots of flurries from two fast punchers. Thurman landed an excellent left.
Another exciting round, and the best of the fight. Porter came out firing, but Thurman was absorbing the punishment. Lots of good exchanges. There is a fear that one of these fighters is going to leave themselves open too much.
Porter had a good left punch with Thurman on the ropes, but this round belongs to Thurman. He was able to rattle Porter near the end of the round with Porter's knee buckling. Porter deserves credit for battling back, but he didn't win this round.
Quiet first minute, as both boxers seem to be a bit fatigued. Thurman was able to connect with quality power punches, as Porter was left to chase. Crowd chanted for Porter, the underdog. This has been an excellent fight, and a very difficult one to score.
Crowd on their feet for a great boxing match. Neither Thurman nor Porter had a convincing round, but Porter seemed to be more of the aggressor. He was able to put Thurman on his heels a bit. Let hope for a rematch.
IBT Final Scorecard
Thurman 115 - Porter 114
All three judges for Thurman by the same scorecard: 115-113