Thurman weighs in on epic Barclays bout
Top welterweight favors Porter over Garcia in WBC title fight
Keith Thurman is best qualified to offer an opinion on Saturday night’s epic welterweight showdown between Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
After all, he’s beaten them both right here in our fair borough.
Thurman, widely regarded as the top welterweight in the world and among boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters, had to relinquish his WBC crown due to his ongoing rehabilitation following elbow surgery.
That created an opportunity for Garcia and Porter, both of whom lost narrow decisions to Thurman in earlier fights at Brooklyn’s home for boxing, to clash in what is expected to be a hotly contested showdown for the right to meet Thurman again once he is healthy and ready to return to the squared circle.
Though he hasn’t stepped between the ropes at Barclays since eking out a split-decision win over Garcia here on March 4, 2017, nearly a year after his unanimous decision triumph against Porter at Barclays, Thurman is looking forward to watching his former adversaries square off in the SHOWTIME-televised event.
“This is one of the best matchups of the year. I try not to overthink it,” said Thurman, who improved to 28-0 with his win over Garcia.
While Thurman believes Garcia holds the edge in punching power, defense and overall boxing ability, he favors Porter’s physical strength and speed in the ring.
He ranked the two fighters even in ring IQ and for their ability to take a punch after neither became one of his 22 knockout victims.
“In my fights, Porter took more big punches than Garcia did,” Thurman recalled of his June 2016 matchup with Porter. “I had to hit hard to keep Porter off me. They both have enough power to hurt each other.”
And both are looking to do just that.
Garcia (34-1) bounced back from his loss to Thurman by scoring a technical knockout of Brandon Rios in Nevada back in February.
The Philadelphia native of Puerto Rican descent is looking to continue shaking off his lone career loss in what will be his seventh Barclays Center bout.
“The loss against Keith Thurman hurt me for a little bit,” admitted Garcia, who had been 5-0 at Barclays before the controversial defeat.
“I thought I finished the fight strong and won,” he added. “At the end of the day, though, I feel motivated again. I feel more motivated now than I did before the fight. There’s something different inside of me.”
Porter (28-2-1) has won twice since being beaten by Thurman and will be fighting at Barclays for the fourth consecutive bout and fifth overall during his career.
“Brooklyn doesn’t like me because of what I wear or what I say, they like me because I come to fight and I entertain,” noted Porter.
“All of my abilities — power, quickness, the whole nine — will help me get this victory,” he added as the two prepared for their final media workouts at the legendary Gleason’s Gym yesterday. “To beat Danny Garcia, you have to use your whole arsenal. Especially beating him in the fashion we want to beat him in. We want to look great.”
Both aged 30 and eager to prove they belong atop the division with another shot at Thurman looming, Garcia and Porter are meeting at a critical juncture in their respective careers.
A crossroads that will lead one and not the other to a mega-fight rematch with Thurman.
“The belt is all I want,” Porter insisted. “Winning a title is always special, but beating Danny Garcia for it will be icing on the cake. He’s been a top fighter for a long time and this win will help solidify me. Once I have the belt, the sky’s the limit.”
“At the end of the day, my mindset is fully focused on [Saturday night],” Garcia countered. “I have to go grab this title and then you can ask me to fight anyone. I’ve never turned down an opponent in my career. I’m a fighter and this is what I do.”
As for Thurman, who expects to be back in action soon, sitting ringside and watching two of his greatest challengers fight for the right to meet him at a later date is something he is eagerly anticipating.
And he even picked the winner.
“It’s Porter by decision or Garcia only by KO. I lean toward Porter,” he finally ceded.
Ring Notes: The SHOWTIME Championship Boxing telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday night and features a welterweight world title eliminator between Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas and Argentina’s Cesar Barrionuevo, plus heavyweight action that pits unbeaten Brooklyn’s Adam Kownacki against former heavyweight champion Charles Martin.
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