Feb. 15, 1978 – That’s the last time two fighters squared off on CBS in a primetime slot. On that date, it was Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks meeting for the first time and it was Ali claiming the heavyweight crown from Spinks for the third time in his illustrious career.
Now, nearly 40 years later, on June 25th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, it will be welterweight champion Keith Thurman and challenger Shawn Porter shining in primetime on CBS as boxing returns to primetime on the network with what many think will be the best bout of the year.
On Tuesday, roughly two months before they’ll take center stage at the Barclays Center, Thurman and Porter and their camps held a press conference at the Edison Ballroom in New York City to discuss the upcoming fight.
“I’m very very very excited about this fight,” Porter told the crowd. “I feel very blessed to be in this opportunity, to be in this position, to not only go for this WBA title, but even just the record sales that we’ve put on so far at the Barclays arena. It’s awesome, this night is turning into everything that I’ve dreamed it to be, that I want it to be so I’m excited about that.”
In the ring, Thurman vs. Porter is a match made in boxing heaven. Thurman is 26-0 with one no decision and has successfully defended his WBA Welterweight title belt five times already since he won it in 2013. Now, he’s looking to hand Shawn Porter (26 wins, one loss and one draw) just his second professional loss and keep his title and elevate his already lofty boxing status.
“This fight is a great fight,” Thurman said. Tremendous fight, you know, arguably the best matchup of the year. We’re going to be fighting our butts off to make it the fight of the year, that’s for sure, man.”
Outside of the ring, the boxers have an interesting dynamic as well. Thurman and Porter “grew up together” as Thurman put it and the two camps – fighters included – have enjoyed a close relationship out of the ring. They’re both represented by Al Haymon as well. But don’t think that means they’re not going to go after each other hard in the ring on June 25th.
“Me, my team and this team right here,” Thurman said referring to Porter’s team. “We go wayyyyyyy back. This is the most beautiful moment of my professional career and here I am, about to compete with somebody I grew up with. For me, I’m happy for my success and I’m also happy for Shawn’s success, because we pretty much come from the same boat.”
“Now, don’t get it twisted,” Thurman continued. “June 25th, my friend, is about to become my enemy. And I’m gonna treat him like any other enemy. It’s gonna be a fight you don’t want to miss, and I’m sorry to say it, but it’s gonna be a knockout you don’t wanna miss either. I love you bro, but I’m gonna have to do my best to put you to sleep.”
According to boxingscene.com, the fight has already set a presale record for boxing at the Barclays Center. Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment also took to the stage to discuss his excitement for the fight at the Brooklyn arena.
“When I think of this particular event on June 25th, it’s going to be a dramatic moment in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center,” Yormark said. “As many of you know, I’m a huge boxing fan and this is one of those nights that you circle on the calendar that you need to be there.”
Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports, echoed Yorkmark’s sentiment as well and was especially excited about the fight appearing on CBS in primetime for the first time in almost 40 years.
“When I went to my bosses and pitched the fight, I was very mindful of the last time CBS had put a fight on the air,” Espinoza said. “So I knew that I had to bring something that was incredibly strong and convincing and that’s what we have on June 25th. This card has come together as perfectly as anyone could have imagined. Two of the top five welterweights, both in the prime of their career battling to see, really, who’s going to be the top dog in the division. It’s an event, really, that speaks for itself.”
The fight card begins live on CBS at 9 p.m. ET – 6 p.m. PT on June 25th live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Bryan Altman is, for some reason, an unabashed fan of the Rangers, Jets and Mets. If he absolutely had to pick a basketball team it would be the Knicks, but he’d gladly trade them for just one championship for any of his other three teams.