By John J. Raspanti
Good friends Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter met in a boxing ring Saturday night. Thurman, the defending WBA champion, said yesterday he would knock Porter out. In the end he needed all his skills to win a close 12-round unanimous decision at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
All three judges scored the bout 115-113 for Thurman.
Maxboxing also had Thurman winning the bout by a couple of points.
Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) started the bout fast. He clipped the aggressive Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) consistently with jabs and a stinging left hook. Porter, like a bull in a china closet, banged on the inside. Thurman also connected with a couple of hard body shots.
Porter upped the ante in the pressure department in round two. He swarmed Thurman with overhand punches to the chin and kept him on the defensive. Porter also did some good work to the body. Thurman came out faster in the next stanza. He connected with a number of blows. Porter bobbed and weaved and worked the inside effectively.
Thurman, 27, used more lateral movement in round four. He was timing Porter whenever the former champion made a bull rush. Both fighters traded hellacious punches in the center of the ring, with Thurman getting the better of it.
One of the blows staggered Porter.
Thurman boxed and punched in round five. Porter, 28, stunned him with a long right from Ohio. A follow-up left also found pay dirt. Thurman connected with a lightening quick combination. Porter chased after Thurman, but missed with a number of punches. Porter came roaring back in round six. He worked Thurman over on the ropes, but the defending champion didn’t stay there long. He fought back with a counter right hand,.
Porter went back to working over Thurman’s midsection in round seven. Thurman fired his own combination that landed. Both men connected with shots to the chin.
In rounds eight and nine, Thurman went back to using side-to-side movement. He circled and fired. Porter landed a crisp combination on the inside. A counter right by Thurman crashed home. Porter’s left hook to the body seemed to hurt Thurman. He pushed his friend into the ropes and let fly. Thurman fought back, but Porter drilled him with more punches.
Thurman flashed more combinations in round 10. Porter’s jab was scoring. Thurman jarred Porter with a sweeping right hook. Seconds later a huge left hook sent Porter stumbling to the ropes. Thurman clocked the iron-chinned Porter with a wicked left hook and right hand in round 11 Somehow, Porter remained standing. Seconds later, he fired back.
Porter stunned Thurman with a lead right hand in the 12th and final round. Both men were tired, but they continued to throw heat seeking punches. Thurman countered Porter’s jab with a left hook. He also connected with a clean uppercut. Porter bullied Thurman into the ropes and landed more shots. Thurman fought back at the bell.
“I knew that defense would be the key,” said Thurman in the ring. “I was unable to drop him, but I rocked him.”