Prizefighting returned to CBS on Saturday with a Fight of the Year candidate as undefeated WBA welterweight world champion Keith Thurman edged former world champion Shawn Porter in a close but unanimous decision scored 115-113 by all three ringside judges.
The 12,718 fans in attendance at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the viewers across the U.S. watching the first primetime boxing event on CBS since Muhammed Ali-Leon Spinks in 1978 were treated to a slugfest between two of the brightest stars in boxing’s glamour division.
Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) and Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) combined to throw over 1200 punches in the SShowtime televised on CBS event, presented by Premier Boxing Champions. The marquee showdown was a story of accuracy vs. activity, as Thurman landed 50 percent of his power shots, compared to 38 percent for Porter, and 44 percent of his total punches compared to just 36 percent for the challenger. While Thurman landed at a higher percentage, Porter was the busier fighter, throwing over 100 more punches across 12 rounds.
“One Time” and “Showtime” delivered as advertised, with the powerful sharpshooter buckling Porter multiple times, while the swarming and smothering Porter barreled forward to bully Thurman into the ropes. And while there were no knockdowns, the back-and-forth blockbuster never lacked action and culminated in a standing ovation in the second-highest attended boxing event in Barclays Center history.
"I want to thank Shawn Porter for a tremendous fight. He’s a great warrior,” said Thurman. “Defense is the key to victory. He smothers his punches a lot and makes it difficult for the judges to score. I was able to rock him with clear, effective blows and I believe that was the difference today.
“I would give him a rematch. It was great fight. He was a great opponent. Everyone was saying would he be my toughest opponent to date. I wasn’t able to drop him but I did buckle him a few times.”
The former world champion Porter, a perennial underdog but consummate gentleman, didn’t complain about being on the losing end of his second close decision in a title bout.
“We worked hard, Keith is a great champion,” Porter said. “My dad says to keep your head up. I think I won the fight, but I’m satisfied because the competitor came out tonight.
"We need that rematch. I know the fans want that rematch. If he gives me another chance, I’m going to work hard in the ring and leave with his title."
The opening bout of the CBS telecast featured a matchup of undefeated super welterweights as Jarrett Hurd graduated from prospect to legitimate contender in the stacked 154-pound class with a dominating 10th round TKO over Oscar Molina.
Hurd (18-0, 12 KOs) got to work early, flooring Molina for the first time in his career in the opening round with a powerful counter right uppercut. The bigger and taller Hurd was the more active fighter from the outset, dismantling the previously unbeaten Mexican Olympian with a supremely effective inside game. Hurd threw nearly 750 punches over 10 rounds, compared to just 376 for Molina, connecting on 220 power shots at a nearly 40 percent clip.
Hurd put a stamp on his performance in the final round, closing the show by out landing Molina 33-7 in the final round. With Molina taking a brutal beating and seemingly defenseless in the final minute of the final round, Ricky Gonzalez stepped in to halt the contest at 2:02.
"This is definitely a big win for my career,” Hurd said. “He was taking a lot of shots, but he knew how to survive. It was a big uppercut that knocked him down in round one. People know from my last fight that I have a great right uppercut. He was hurt a couple of times. I don’t think it was a bad stoppage. Molina is a very tough guy who just kept coming through.
"This fight here puts me up with the top contenders in the division. I felt like I could have gone three or four more rounds. I was getting stronger as the fight went on. We’re going right back to the gym so we can get in there again."
Molina (13-1-1, 10 KOs) protested, but barring a stunning knockout he was just seconds away from suffering the first loss of his career via a unanimous decision.
"I felt like Hurd was throwing a lot of punches in the tenth round but they weren’t really hurting me,” Molina said. “He was staying busy but he was never really hurting me.
“I went low and I had my head down and he caught me with that uppercut in the first round. He got me with a shot I wasn’t expecting but it was definitely a flash knockdown. I wasn’t hurt.
"I was supposed to use my footwork a lot more but I ended up smothering my shots. He had an awkward defense with a lot of bending down and I couldn’t get into a rhythm.
"This was a big opportunity for me and I felt like I fought a good fight. I’m going to come back stronger. We’re going to work on a lot of things and get back in there."