Keith Thurman got by Shawn Porter Saturday on CBS, but it was anything but easy. The scores illustrated just how close it was: 115-113 on all three cards, and it could’ve been that way either way for either man. And we got plenty of punches swapped in a bout that came close to living up to its hype.
Thurman and Porter are two of the best young fighters in the sport, and two of its best welterweights. As good as it was, it could’ve been even better: It took until the 9th and 10th rounds for a full-on brawl to break out, as both fought tactically, even defensively, until then.
Thurman made his name as a puncher. He has since tried to make himself an all-around boxer-puncher. Porter was once a pure mauler/pressure fighter. He has since tried to make himself into more of an intelligent pressure boxer. Had Thurman fought in his former style and Porter too, it might’ve been an easy KO for Thurman. Even if Thurman had focused on the KO, this scribe thinks he could’ve gotten it.
Still, by the 4th Thurman hurt Porter with a left hook, and cut him, too. In the 9th, Porter dug in with a left hand to Thurman’s body that had him fleeing. We got a lot of action in the 9th and 10th in particular, but also overall. And we got good drama in the territorial battles, with Thurman wanting to keep it at range in the center of the ring and Porter wanting to keep it along the ropes. So many rounds were toss-ups.
Where Thurman pulled away was in the final two. Here’s where his disciplined approach to becoming a complete fighter served him well. Porter had a tough time finding and trapping him, as he had before in rounds where he was successful. Thurman landed just enough clean, hard blows for the judges’ viewing pleasure.
By the standards of 2016, this was a Fight of the Year candidate. If they did it again, everybody would be happy. Thurman came out on top. But nobody lost beyond the official record.