On Tuesday afternoon the WBA welterweight world champion Keith Thurman and the former IBF welterweight champion Shawn Porter went face-to-face in Manhattan as DiBella Entertainment hosted a press conference to promote their highly anticipated Saturday, June 25 meeting on Showtime Championship Boxing which will air live on CBS’s presentation of Premier Boxing Champions. The televised portion will begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT with featherweight world champion Jesus Cuellar defending his title against former three-division world champion Abner Mares. Tickets for the live event, which is being promoted by DiBella Entertainment, start at $42 and are on sale now. They can also be purchased online by visiting www.barclayscenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the American Express Box Office at the Barclays Center. For group discounts, you can call 844-BKLYN-GP.
Thurman’s opponent on June 25th, Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs), is an ex-champ who lost his crown by a mixed decision to Kell Brook on August 16, 2014. He has also accomplished much over his 10-year career. He scored a fourth round TKO victory over Paulie Malignaggi and has decision victories over Julio Diaz and Devon Alexander. In his last fight, June 20, 2015, he did the boxing world a great service by winning a unanimous decision over the narcissistic Adrien Broner. In that fight, Porter appeared to win every round except the 12th, getting inside and clearly outworking Broner. Albeit for that final round, when Broner, in desperation mode, managed to knock a surprised Porter off his feet, this bout was never in doubt. Unhurt, Porter quickly got back on his feet and finished the final round. However, the scorecards from that fight, all favoring Porter, varied greatly. They ranged from a two point to a 10 point margin of victory for Porter.
Here is what Mr. Thurman had to say at Tuesday’s Press Conference in Manhattan: “I made you wait. But it’s worth it. This is a tremendous fight. Arguably the best matchup of the year. We’re going to work our butts off to make it the Fight of the Year. Our two teams go way back. This is the most beautiful moment of my professional career and I’m about to compete with somebody I grew up with. I’m happy for my success and I’m happy for Shawn’s success. We come from the same boat. When you’re a young kid in the gym training and then you’re here today, that takes a special kind of person. Shawn and I are both that kind of person.
“We took six weeks off after my accident, with three days a week of physical therapy. I was relaxing at home. I didn’t like it. As a fighter, I wanted this fight as bad as the fans wanted this fight. This isn’t just the biggest fight of my career. But it’s the most anticipated fight of my career. Sometimes it pays to add some drama to the game. It wasn’t our intention, but I think it worked out.
“The Barclays Center makes this a big fight. We get to promote here in New York City. New York is a fight town. My favorite fighter of all time, Mike Tyson, is from Brooklyn. This just happened to work out for the best. I anticipate most of the welterweight division will be in attendance on June 25. The situation that division is in right now is that we’re all in a frenzy. Everyone wants the spotlight and everyone wants to be the top dog. We all have that opportunity. I want to have two titles by the end of this year. People talk about replacing Floyd Mayweather, but you can’t become the man without beating all the people in front of you. One fight at a time. I want to stay at the top by grabbing another belt. I’m going to show that I’m the big dog at 147 pounds. June 25, my friend is about to become my enemy. I’m going to treat him like any other enemy. Get your tickets. Get your seats. Get your popcorn. Whatever you need to do. This is going to be a fight you don’t want to miss. This is going to be a knockout you don’t want to miss. I love you Shawn, but I’m doing my best to put you to sleep.”
Shawn Porter: “I’m very excited about this fight. I’m blessed to have this opportunity. Not only to go for the title but to be a part of a record-breaking show at the Barclays Center. This night is going to be memorable. Keith Thurman will be bringing out the competitiveness in me to a level I’ve always wanted. It’s a level I expect. I have a guy next to me who is challenging me more than ever. Keith Thurman and I are going to put on a show. Everything you’ve been talking about, you’re going to get. It is amazing to be a part of something great like this. I’ve always considered myself to be a very good fighter and a very good athlete, but I’ve always wanted something like this and to have it is very humbling.
“I wasn’t surprised to hear Keith say he would knock me out. He has to pump himself up and be confident. When he looked at me, I think he was trying to convince me that he was being real and I was looking at him to find out if he was convinced. He may think he’s going to knock me out, but he’s not. I’m going to do everything it takes to beat him and make it look easy. This is going to be a big fight, one of those fights that we’ve looked forward to since we were kids.
“This is my second visit to the Barclays Center. I’m 1-0 when it comes to championship fights and now I’m looking for another one. I’ve been to some of the other fights at Barclays as well and it is really an electric atmosphere. People are coming out to see something great and that’s what I’m going to give them.
“I’m not changing anything in camp because of how familiar Keith and I are with each other. I have to do it at the right time in the ring. We’re going to do everything we do to prepare for a world championship fight. Thurman can be a little unorthodox at times so we’re prepared for that. It’s about going 12 rounds or less and looking good doing it. We’ve done a little sparring as pros but nothing as competitive as I’m expecting on June 25th. I have a feeling Keith is going to say he’s knocking me out a lot. I want to know if he believes that. He’s a cutthroat kind of fighter. I know that. The hands will be up, the defense will be taken care of, and we’re taking care of business.”
Dan Birmingham, Keith Thurman’s trainer: “We’re looking forward to this fight. Me, Keith and the Porters go way back, but sometimes you have to fight your friends. These two guys are both at the top of their games and the best man is going to win.”
Ken Porter, Shawn Porter’s father & trainer: “Dan Birmingham is actually one of my mentors and I’ve been watching Keith since he was 14-years-old. We’re all friends but to have the opportunity on this stage, I don’t think we can have better competitors as fighter and trainer. I don’t think it can reach a higher level. I fully expect the immovable object versus the irresistible force meeting in the ring for an explosion on June 25th.”
Lou Dibella, President of DiBella Entertainment: “This is the best that boxing has to offer. Keith Thurman versus Shawn Porter could very well be the Fight of the Year. It’s a fan fight that everyone has been anticipating for years. These are the two most established welterweights in the world battling to see who the successor to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s domination of the division will be. This is so far the fastest-selling boxing event at the Barclays Center and the biggest pre-sale we’ve ever had for a fight at the Barclays Center. This is one you should start buying your tickets early. Aside from being two of the very best in their weight class, these are two of the most interesting guys in boxing. These are two of the smartest and most cerebral fighters. This is why I’m in boxing. This is why we’re all in boxing. This is on nationally, it’s free, over-the-air television and I think it’s great. We want as many people as possible to watch this fight. We want to expose people to the best our sport has to offer.”
Stephen Espinoza, Exec. Vice Pres./Gen. Mgr. of Showtime Sports: “We’re in the midst of perhaps the strongest run of boxing this network has ever had. While other networks cut back on programming, we are reinvesting in the sport and giving it as big of a platform as there ever has been. We have the strongest lineup of any network this year. These are two of the strongest fighters in the most popular division in the sport.
“The last prime time boxing match on CBS was 1987, Ali-Spinks. Those are big shoes to fill. When I pitched a fight for CBS, I knew I had to bring something that was incredibly strong. That is what we have on June 25. This card has come together as perfectly as anyone could have imagined. Two of the top five welterweights battling for the top of the division. This is an event that speaks for itself. I’m proud to be involved.”
Brett Yormack, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment: “It’s been a special time at Barclays Center the last couple of weeks. I think Barclays Center is defined by dramatic moments. When I think of this particular event, it’s going to be a dramatic moment in Brooklyn and I’m thrilled about it. Since I’m a huge boxing fan, this is one of those nights that you circle on your calendar. You need to be there. We’re off to the best pre-sale and on sale since we opened Barclays Center. We have a bit of a history already and this will be the biggest one yet.”