IN what is a top welterweight match-up, arguably as close to a 50-50 fight as can currently be made in the weight class, Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman will clash on March 12 in Connecticut.

Porter, 28 and beaten only by reigning IBF champion Kell Brook in a very close fight, says he feels the winner will be looked at as THE best welterweight in the world. Currently leaving no stone unturned in the gym – sparring with the likes of “Sugar” Shane Mosley – Porter says Thurman could well give him the toughest fight of his career.

In fact, Porter – in his familiar softly-spoken yet hugely confident manner – says he likes the idea of Thurman giving him his career-toughest fight.

First of all, this is a great match-up. Do you see this fight, as others do, as a fight between the two best welterweights in the world?

Shawn Porter: “I do think that as well. With all the attributes he brings, he is a true champion. And I think I’ve shown that I’m a good champion too. So together, this is a great match-up and the winner, which I believe will be myself, will be recognised as the best in the world at welterweight. The way I was raised, I always want to be number-one.”

Q: What does Thurman do especially well in your opinion?

Shawn Porter: “He does a lot of things well. One thing I have noticed he does really well is he keeps guys off balance. He’s unpredictable with his punches and he moves well. But I really don’t think I’ll have any problems with any of that.”

Q: You are a very good inside fighter who brings lots and lots of pressure. Thurman says he is working on his own inside game for this fight. Do you think this could be an inside battle between the two of you?

Shawn Porter: “My inside game is definitely going to play a key role in the fight, I’ll be going to the body to look to slow him down. That will definitely be key.”

Q: Talking of body shots, Thurman was visibly hurt by a Luis Collazo body shot…

S.P: “Collazo did hurt him, and I’ve seen other guys slow him down with that [body work] so I will definitely be focusing on that. We’re working hard in the gym, focusing on our game-plan. We’ll be ready and prepared for everything.”

Q: You are coming off a dominant win over Adrien Broner. How highly does that win rank amongst your career best performances and wins?

S.P: “That was a very good win for me. My game-plan worked to an absolute tee overall and I got a lot of praise. That was a high profile fight for my career, on a big stage.”

Q: You were knocked down in the last round. Was that merely a lapse in concentration? How hurt were you?

S.P: “That was definitely just a lapse, I was never hurt at any point in that fight. That [the knockdown] was definitely something to learn from, on how to complete a fight. I wasn’t hurt but that could have meant a lot and it could mean a lot if it ever happens again. So I’ve definitely learned from that.”

Q: On paper, is this the toughest fight of your entire career?

S.P: “I like to think that at this point in my career, it is, yes. With the combination of power and speed that Thurman brings, along with his boxing skill, yes. I’m expecting a tough fight of course.”

Q: Just a brief question or two about Kell Brook. It was a very close fight you two had back in August of 2014. Do you still think you won that fight or do you not think about it at all now?

S.P: “Since you brought it up, I’m going to tell you, yes, I think I won the fight. But I don’t really think about it at all; I don’t focus on it. I’ve watched it a couple of times since, here and there. But no, it’s not on my mind at all.”

Q: Brook said this week he honestly thinks you can win on March 12th. He also said he’d love to fight the winner out of you and Thurman. Would you like a shot at revenge against Brook?

S.P: “I’d definitely like a rematch with Brook. After I win the WBA title, that’s the one thing I’d like, to go for another title. So he is in my focus, he is in my firing line. I think a rematch would be even bigger than the first fight, with two world titles on the line. It would be a much bigger spectacle.”

Q: Who do you feel should be looked at as the favourite to win on March 12th, you or Thurman?

S.P: “I don’t know really. I don’t know who you can look at as the favourite. Of course me, I’m going to think I’m the favourite to win. We both bring a lot of attributes to this fight; things he can do to offset me and vice-versa. If anything I’d perhaps say this is a pretty even fight. It is a great match-up.”