At the moment, talk of a mega-middleweight championship fight between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez possibly occurring within the next 18 months is just that — talk. But when WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman faces former IBF champion Shawn Porter in a Showtime on CBS fight Saturday night at Barclays Center, there not only is guaranteed action in that fight but also momentum toward unification in the welterweight division.
“Before fall of 2017, there will be total unification in the welterweight division,” promoter Lou DiBella said Thursday at the final news conference for Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) and Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs), who will put aside their long-standing friendship to engage in what promises to be a high-volume punch-fest.
Looking beyond Saturday’s fight, DiBella assured that WBC champion Danny Garcia stands ready to fight the Thurman-Porter winner, and he noted that IBF champion Kell Brook is set to risk his title against Jessie Vargas on Sept. 3 in England. Fast-rising contender Errol Spence will fight a title eliminator on Aug. 21 against an unnamed opponent to earn the right to be mandatory challenger for the Brook-Vargas winner.
It helps that Thurman, Porter, Garcia and Spence all are managed by Al Haymon, but DiBella said Bob Arum, who promotes Vargas, and Eddie Hearn, who handles Brook, also have shown interest in making the kind of fights among all the top contenders that made the division great in the 1980s with Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran.
“Danny Garcia is sitting out there, and I can tell you, he wants a unification,” DiBella said. “Hearn’s guy (Brook) is fighting Arum’s guy (Vargas). I respect that. It’s a hell of a fight. Good for them. Errol Spence isn’t running away from Kell Brook or Jessie Vargas. He’s running to them. He wants to beat them and run to these guys (Thurman and Porter).
“There’s a bunch of stuff happening in this division. I hope I’m in the middle of promoting it because I see this as a great time for this division, a time where there really can be a successor to what Floyd Mayweather established, and maybe somebody emerges from the mix to bring the great Floyd Mayweather out of retirement.”
Not only is there true action in the welterweight division, but those who don’t make it to Barclays for Thurman-Porter can watch a top-class fight for free. It’s the first prime-time boxing telecast on CBS since the Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks I heavyweight title bout in 1978.
“Anyone who wants to mock free TV, let them reach in their pocket and spend $70,” DiBella said. “I prefer to turn the channel and get something great for free.”
The great welterweight rivalries of the 1980s began when Leonard won his first world title from Wilfredo Benitez in a 1979 bout televised on free TV. That proved good for boxing.