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When reports came in that Keith Thurman had been involved in a car accident and his March 12 title fight with Shawn Porter would have to be postponed, the boxing community groaned. But, honestly, postponing this fight may be the best thing for it.
Here’s the problem: Thurman-Porter wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. For a fight of this magnitude between two potential stars, there should have been much more publicity for this fight than there has been. It’s also kind of fitting that things have played out as they have.
The fight between Thurman and Porter was something that had been discussed since last summer. After Porter beat Adrien Broner and Thurman upended Luis Collazo, the fighters turned their attention to each other. Then, things took a turn for the strange as negotiations dragged on for months with numerous dates and locations reported. For a minute, it seemed like the fight may never happened. It was finally announced in January that the bout would be broadcast on CBS and take place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Although Connecticut seemed a strange place to host a fight of this magnitude, it didn’t stop tickets from selling. It also would be the first fight on CBS prime time since Muhammad Ali fought Leon Spinks in 1978. For some reason, it felt like something was missing with the promotion.
Now that Thurman may be on the shelf for up to two months before he can resume training, there is concern as to whether or not Porter will want to remain inactive until the fight is rescheduled, possibly in the summer. For a fighter who is used to entering the ring every three to four months, sitting on the bench for a year might be unacceptable. Porter’s problem is that he doesn’t have anywhere else to turn for a big payday.
If this fight can be rescheduled quickly, perhaps PBC should put more energy into the promotion. It’s rare to see two rising stars square off with each other as they near their respective peaks. It’s evident that boxing fans want to see this fight, but the goal should be to draw in the casual viewer.
The fact of the matter is that nobody really knows much about Thurman or Porter. Why not do a mini-documentary to introduce these two to audiences? Unlike Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, there is little chance that these two will put on a boring fight. The boxing world is looking for it’s next wave of stars, and it would benefit the sport greatly to put some effort into making both boxers bigger than just guys who put on gloves and beat up people.
Boxing’s biggest stars aren’t born simply from their skills in the ring. Rather, it is about how they connect with people outside of the ring. Mayweather’s success was a very calculated effort that had much more to do with his personality than it did with his talent. Mayweather was never “fun” to watch for the casual fight fan. Thurman and Porter are “fun” fighters who will give you blood and guts. The world needs to see more of them and get a better understanding of them as people.
The postponement isn’t the worst thing in the world, so long as CBS, Showtime and PBC realize that they can capitalize on the delay with some extra effort in marketing. The sport of boxing is in need of new stars to carry the weight of the sport on their back, but they have to be built up in order to have the strength to carry it.
Andreas Hale is a content producer for Jay Z’s LifeandTimes.com and editor-in-chief of PremierWuzHere.com, as well as a frequent Sherdog.com columnist. Check out his archive here.
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