Thurman outslugs Porter to retain title in thriller

3:43 AM ET

NEW YORK — They’ve been pals since they were teenagers, but Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter did not let their friendship stand in the way of a hellacious battle Saturday night.

In an old-fashioned fight of the year candidate, Thurman got the job done and eked out a unanimous decision to retain his welterweight world title before a crowd of 12,718 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

All three judges scored the fight 115-113 for Thurman, who successfully defended his 147-pound belt for the third time. also had it 115-113 for Thurman.

“I want to thank Shawn Porter for a tremendous fight. He’s a great warrior,” said Thurman, 27, of Clearwater, Florida. “Shawn brought it today. He was on me. But I knew that defense would be the key to victory. He smothers his punches a lot and it’s very difficult for the judges to give him clear scoring.

“I was able to rock him with clear, effective blows, and I believe that was the key to victory today. He’s in tremendous shape and is a tremendous athlete, and I would love to see him in the ring again if he wanted it.”

Porter was disappointed but said he gave it everything he had.

“At the end of the day, I’m blessed,” said Porter, 28, a native of Akron, Ohio, who fights out of Las Vegas. “We worked hard. Keith is a great champion. My dad [trainer Ken Porter] says to keep your head up. I think I won the fight, but I’m satisfied, because the competitor came out tonight.”

The fight was one of the most anticipated of the year, and Thurman and Porter delivered big time, going toe-to-toe for much of an intense fight, the first main event televised by CBS in prime time since Feb. 15, 1978, when Muhammad Ali lost a 15-round split decision and the heavyweight title to Leon Spinks in a massive upset.

“That was some classic s— right there,” promoter Lou DiBella said. “To have a fight with that kind of anticipation, the best against the best, and you wind up with that kind of fight? A fight that lived up to the expectations, and you didn’t have to pay 75 bucks for it? I love boxing tonight.

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