KEITH THURMAN hopes to rule the welterweight division like Floyd Mayweather once did, and feels a win over Shawn Porter on June 25 will serve as a step in the right direction.
The unbeaten 27-year-old defends his WBA world title against Porter in a highly-anticipated clash at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Mayweather, who retired last year, was the undisputed pound for pound leader and dominated the welterweight class for years, and Thurman hopes to emulate those achievements.
“The way I look at it is I’m not a big fan of what I call the Mayweather shadow, right? Mayweather’s legacy has casted a shadow over the 147lb division,” he said.
“The real issue is that Mayweather was at the top for over a decade, and you want somebody to replace him but it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s really going to take almost another decade. You need to really see who’s going to be the top dog for the next three to five years.
“And then you got a king, because kings rule. Kings rule. Kings don’t come up and come down and do this and do that. You know, kings rule. And that’s, to me, the main reason why I ever allow the name king to come out of my mouth when talking about Floyd Mayweather, because he did rule 147lb division.
“So, this fight [with Porter] is a great fight. It’s a stepping stone. It’s heading in the right direction, for either fighter, of proving themselves. And many other great fights to come. But it’s going to take every single one of those great fights so that you can have the great of the new generation.”
Manny Pacquiao, who Floyd defeated in May last year, also left the sport recently, creating a rather large void at welterweight to fill.
Thurman holds a solid record, having beaten the likes of Leonard Bundu, Robert Guerrero and Diego Chaves, though Porter is by far his toughest test to date.
Though clearly one of the best at his weight, the Florida native cannot yet claim to be the best in the division – a fairly level field including Thurman, Porter, Danny Garcia, Kell Brook and Timothy Bradley means everything is still to play for at 147.
“I don’t like when everyone is talking about the new king, the new king, the new king, the new king. It’s not like there was a successor lined up waiting. There’s work to do,” Thurman continued.
“We are the next generation in my opinion. I’m a humble fighter and I like to humble myself on the regular. The young generation has got a lot of work to do before there’s a king involved on top of any of our names.
“I would love to get through Danny Garcia, and then solidify more of the debate of the best at 147. But to see the best at 147 it’s just going to take a little bit of time. And claiming the best is cool, there’s nothing wrong with finding the best. But to get the best is going to take a little bit more time. It’s not even going to happen this year. But I look forward to the journey and the process.”
Thurman-Porter is one of the best fights that can be made in the division, though arguably should have happened a lot earlier. Former IBF champion Porter holds impressive wins over Paulie Malignaggi, Devon Alexander and, most recently, Adrien Broner.
However neither Porter or Thurman have fought in a year, largely down to the negotiations for this fight, which was postponed from its original date after the champion suffered minor injuries in a road accident.
The pair, while competitive rivals, remain respectful of each other due to the fact they came through both the amateur and professional ranks alongside one another.
“We do know each other very well. It has been a little while since we’ve seen each other. And we’ve never seen each other under the bright lights. You know, fight night is a different kind of night,” Thurman mused.
“I expect to see the Shawn Porter I know. I also expect to maybe see something that I’ve maybe not quite seen before. If he’s going to be gunning for the title, it’s a very special night, I’ll be defending my title.
“The accident didn’t really help me at all or hurt me or do anything special. All that really did was give us more time to constantly think about this fight. We were going to approach the fight pretty much the same way no matter what. We didn’t change up our game plan from the first training camp into this training camp. We stuck with the same game plan.
“We gave ourselves enough time to get in shape. And that was really the most important thing, to assess with my doctors how quickly I could recover and get back in the conditioning to be prepared for this fight.”