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Q&A interview with Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter fight coming up on June 25th

Credit: Ed Diller / DBE

Keith Thurman, the reigning WBA Welterweight titlist, is four weeks out from his June 25 title defense against Shawn Porter and has his 20-year career in boxing on his mind heading into the crucial showdown.

“It’s been an amazing journey and no one predicted this better than my first coach Ben Getty,” said 27-year-old Thurman. “It puts me in a state of gratitude for Ben. He told everyone I’d be world champ, and here I am, defending my title against Shawn Porter. I am just starting to see what Ben Getty saw in me and the mark that I can make in boxing.”

Thurman isn’t the only one celebrating a boxing anniversary – his trainer of 13 years and Florida Hall of Fame elected boxing trainer Dan Birmingham, who trained former champion Winky Wright, has been in the sport for 50 years, and assistant trainer Chris Getty has grown up with Thurman in the sport through his father Ben Getty. The fight also is the first primetime fight on CBS in almost 40 years since the Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks from Las Vegas.

Now, 20 years after Ben Getty introduced Thurman to boxing as part of an after school program, he is one of the strongest power punchers in the division, with an excellent knockout rate of 80%. His focus, however, is on making boxing history.

“My goal is to be known as the hardest hitting welterweight in the division,” said Thurman. “This camp, if anything, I feel more comfortable. I’m fully recovered, sparring, training. I’ve been throwing power punches for what seems like forever and it’s a little weird. I can’t help but think about how this is my 20th year in boxing and knowing the longevity I’ve had. It’s given me a new confidence. ”

For Birmingham, this training camp has been a re-commitment to the strategic and conditioning process the team has gone through for each fight for the past 13 years.

“Training is going real well,” said Birmingham. “We know Porter is a come-forward fighter – he is going to try to be on Keith’s chest. I want Keith to box, use his power, use his jab, and use his feints to work the body from the inside. All the things Keith knows how to do. Porter is not a real technical fighter so we’re working on using that to our advantage.”

Birmingham on sparring:
“We’ve been doing great sparring work – we have some tough, tough kids in camp. We’ve been boosting aerobic capacity, and those kids are keeping on Keith. He’s going to be in great shape for this fight. We’re excited for this fight. ”

What does Team “One Time” anticipate?
Birmingham: “We know that Porter is going to bring it so we’re working extra hard on aerobics and being fit for this fight. Keith’s doing a lot of running, cardio, endurance; we expect a tough fight and we’ll be prepared for this fight. We expect a victory”

What can fans expect on June 25?
Thurman: “Hopefully a knock out! I’m coming to bring it. Shawn is coming to bring it. It’ll be a great fight. We are two of the top welterweights in the division. Two of the youngest and strongest welterweights in the sport going toe-to- toe.”

What is your goal for this fight?
Thurman: “My goal is to be known as the hardest hitting welterweight in the division. My lifelong goal is to be the undisputed welterweight champion of the world – and I have a ways to go in unifying the titles. Once I move past Shawn I look forward to the challenge of making my dreams come true. I’m blessed to be where I am today.”

The Welterweight division is one of the hottest divisions in boxing, what do you think of a Super 6 tournament in the division?
Thurman: “I’m for it. In the 147-pound division it’s time to unify a title. Someone at 147 should have more than one belt and that’s my goal that before end of the year to have more than one belt.”

One of the sports more enigmatic athletes, Thurman is known for having a varied list of interests and hobbies setting him apart from other fighters, including playing the flute, piano and guitar, books (The Secret Life of Plants to Bhagavad Gita the Little Buddhist Handbook) and music (Ziggy Marley to Tupac). It is his uniqueness that helps him be an easy fan-favorite.

“Greatest advice I’ve been given is just to be Keith Thurman – just be me,” said Thurman. “I’m looking forward to stepping on this scale, not over talking and just going in and getting the knock out.”