This Saturday night sees a pair of very interesting boxing showdowns with a common theme: the next generation’s quest for greatness. We live in a transitional time in boxing, where Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are “retired” and dozens of one-time greats like Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley are likely not far behind. Instead of focusing on these stars, boxing today is all about the next generation and who will replace these men. Some fighters such as Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin have already made their claim to boxing immortality. Others are looking to make that mark - 3 such men compete this weekend:
- KEITH THURMAN (26-0; 22 KO) - 27 year old Keith “One Time” Thurman has been steadily rising in notoriety in recent years, but has seen his stock really rise under the PBC banner. He was chosen to headline the inaugural PBC card, and he did so in tremendous fashion, taking out tough veteran Robert Guerrero. That win launched Thurman into the higher levels of the Welterweight division, and many were hoping to see him get the call up for Floyd Mayweather’s final fight, but it was not to be. Thurman is a heavy hitter, but also a strategic fighter who is willing to take the smart route to victory. He has an analytical mind for the game, and that has served him well so far. Fans have been looking for him to get that big shot and here he gets... not quite that shot, but close.
- SHAWN PORTER (26-1-1; 16 KO) - Porter is Thurman’s opponent Saturday night, and just like Thurman, he is a fighter looking for his big shot. The 28 year old fighter has scored big wins over Devon Alexander, Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner, but he’s also taken a loss to Kell Brook. Porter is something of a boxer’s boxer - a good, capable, all around fighter who puts all the pieces together very well. He’s very close to Thurman in terms of resume, and if I was forced to choose who had the better list of opponents, I would probably go with Porter, yet he’s the slight underdog here. That means it’s a big opportunity for him - the expectation is that this is a very good, close fight, but ultimately one that favors Thurman. If Porter can change that narrative, then he steals Thurman’s momentum for himself and catapults himself up the ladder.
- ANTHONY JOSHUA (16-0; 16 KO) - On a separate card over in London, it’s the latest from fast rising Heavyweight phenom Anthony Joshua. The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist has been much hyped since his pro debut. His last fight was a real coming out party for him, as he won the IBF Heavyweight title from Charles Martin in front of a rabid hometown crowd. His first defense here comes against a fellow 2012 Olympian - America’s Dominic Breazeale (17-0; 15 KO). Though the two men have similar records, there’s a definite hierarchy here with Joshua as the massive -5000 favorite. This is a showcase fight for him - a chance to defend his title in front of his fans and score another big KO. The future is bright for Joshua, it’s just a question of how hard and how fast do you push him into the real deep waters against champions like Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury?
Thurman, Porter, and Joshua are all united by one thing - the path to greatness. All 3 have shown definitively that they are very good fighters. The question being asked now is, how good? Are they the kind of fighters who will be well regarded now, but ultimately somewhat forgotten to the ages, or are they the kind of fighters whose names will be forever remembered? It’s too early to say for any of them, but this weekend, all have a chance to further their legacy and show us evidence of that truly special greatness.
Thurman vs. Porter headlines for PBC on CBS Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. ET. Joshua vs. Breazeale is live on Showtime Saturday with an afternoon fight time of 5:15 p.m. ET in the US.
Also on deck for this weekend in boxing and worth a look:
- Mike Alvarado vs. Josh Torres: This is the second fight in Alvarado’s road back after his crushing 3rd fight loss to Brandon Rios. He’s still in the “rebuilding against overmatched opponents” phase, which is where he should be. This airs on UniMas Saturday night at 11:00 p.m. ET. Also on the card is Matt Korobov vs. Bryan Vera in what could be a fun slugfest.
- George Groves vs. Martin Murray / Chris Eubank Jr. vs. Tom Doran: These are both on the undercard of the Joshua fight, but likely won’t be shown on Showtime. Groves vs. Murray is an absolute must-win for both men, as both have fallen when trying to reach that higher level in recent years. Eubank is a fighter to pay attention to right now, as he is being talked about as a possible Canelo or GGG opponent before the year is out.