Since he was seven, the Clearwater boxer and reigning WBA welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman knew his calling, and now 20 years later he remains dedicated to the sport at all costs.

The bright lights of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., cannot blind the boxer who will be facing former IBF welterweight champion Shawn “Showtime” Porter, 26-1-1 and 16 KOs of Akron, Ohio, in the first boxing event broadcast on primetime CBS since Ali fought Leon Spinks in 1978. Thurman made reference to that historical moment by sporting a T-shirt covered in images of the late heavyweight champion at a press conference on Thursday promoting the fight.

Keith One Time Thurman
Keith Thurman will fight Shawn Porter for the WBA welterweight title, on Sunday, June 26. Credit:

“Muhammad Ali is considered to be the greatest, and it’s that form of greatness that I strive for,” Thurman said with conviction.

With Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao out of the way, Thurman intends to conquer the welterweight field. Even former junior weight champion Winky Wright is no stranger to the boxer’s talent but believes he still needs to prove himself to earn the title as great.

Thurman’s last fight was 11 months ago against Luis Collazo in Tampa when he received a crippling left hand to the liver in the fifth round that even viewers across the nation felt through their television screens. In the end, Thurman took the win in seven rounds, and to stay on top, that is what he needs to keep doing. Porter, on the other hand, hasn’t fought since outpointing Broner in June 2015, but instead of worrying about ring rust, he feels confident he’ll give an exciting performance.

While preparing for the fight, Thurman could not help but think about a lot of the people who had had a strong impact on his career. Among them, was the late Ben Getty, who was the boxer’s first trainer. Then his mind shifted to Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy,  former world champion trained by Birmingham, who had sparred with the young Thurman. Lacy’s future was dazzling bright ten years ago when he took his perfect record and super middle­weight belt to England only for his flame to be put out by Joe Calzaghe. Lacy’s career faded from there.

The 26-0 with 22 knockouts boxer is well aware of the power that is the bright lights: they can make you shine or punish you. That is why the boxer has to make it count. The Truman-Porter fight was pushed back by two months after the Clearwater sportsman had a car accident where he struck a pole and was knocked out by the airbag. As a result, the boxer’s neck needed a six-week recovery time.

Great anticipation and excitement are swarming around two of the best 147-pound boxers who will finally face each other on Saturday, June 25, 2016. Although the two are friends out of the ring, there is no doubt that either of them will let that make them take their eyes off the prize. Predictions are that Truman will steal the show but time will tell.

Source: Tampa Bay