SHAWN PORTER insists the mutual respect and friendship between he and Keith Thurman will not dull their competitive spirit when they meet on June 25 for the latter’s WBA welterweight title.
The pair will clash at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, having progressed alongside eachother in both the amateur and professional codes.
However former IBF champion Porter does not feel their history makes the situation a strange one, and intends to become a two-time world ruler.
“I don’t think it makes it unusual or awkward at all. I think the fact that we know what each other has and we’ve seen each other for a long time, you see the respect, but also the fact that we want to beat each other to prove to ourselves, to everyone out there in the world, that I’m better than Keith,” he said.
“And I know he has that same mindset. You’re not going to get this again. You’re not going to have two guys at the top of their division wanting it all and actually willing to go for it all.
“And I know Keith has that in him, and he knows damn well I have it in me. I’m gunning for that championship belt, I’m coming for his head. It doesn’t matter that we’re friends. And I know at the end of the day it doesn’t matter to him. We both have families to take care of, we both have legacies to build, careers to continue to progress and goals to reach, and the list goes on.
“With all that being said, it can’t be awkward. It can’t be weird. It can’t be a friendship. We’ll meet in the centre, touch gloves in the beginning of the fight, and begin the fight. That’s it. It’s just going to be a hell of a fight.”
It is a fight that will go some way in weeding out the pack at 147lbs. Thurman and Ported find themselves in a division with the likes of Danny Garcia, Kell Brook and Timothy Bradley.
So far, very few major fights have been made between that talented crop, though Porter is aware of how important a win over his former sparring partner would be.
“This fight has been in my mind for a number of years. And I’ve said this before, looking at our careers and the way that they were moving, and both of us being at 147, Keith being as dominant as he has been, I always thought this fight will happen eventually,” he said.
“And it was a fight that I wanted to happen. I’m all about being the guy that is considered the guy. I’m all about being the number one. I love having all eyes on me. You guys know me to be very humble, but when I’m performing, when everyone’s watching, I want them to be watching me, watching and seeing what I’m doing and screaming my name.
“So I think knowing what Keith has done and him being the champion, when you beat a champion, you take the belt, that’s how you form your legacy. You don’t form your legacy from, beating C-level fighters, B-level fighters. You beat those A-plus fighters and you take their belts. That’s how you establish your greatness.”
The vacuum in the welterweight division is down to the retirement of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, the two leading stars in the sport.
Thurman has commented on the ‘shadow’ of Mayweather and feels it will take years for a new ‘king’ to emerge. Porter, however, intends to make himself a leading candidate for a potential – and probable – Mayweather comeback fight.
“I believe in myself, I know what I can do. And when I look at the other guys out there in the division, I just know that I have more than the other guys,” he said.
“But I think whoever wins this fight, will be the number one guy in the division, filling Mayweather’s shoes, yada, yada, yada. I want to do more than just fill those shoes. I want to be the guy that, if Mayweather comes back, you better come back to ‘Showtime’ Shawn Porter because he’s the best fighter out there in the division.”