By Keith Idec
Keith Thurman will keep a close eye on the Shawn Porter-Yordenis Ugas fight Saturday night.
The WBA “super” world welterweight champion will work FOX’s broadcast of Porter-Ugas from the network’s studio in Los Angeles. Thurman will join International Boxing Hall of Famer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and host Kate Abdo for FOX’s studio coverage of the Porter-Ugas card from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Thurman, 30, is paying particularly close attention to this bout because he wants to fight the winner of their 12-round fight for Porter’s WBC welterweight title.
Thurman gave up the WBC 147-pound championship last April as he recovered from a hand injury that further delayed his return from elbow surgery in April 2017. Porter defeated Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia (35-2, 20 KOs) by 12-round unanimous decision on September 8 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to win the then-vacant WBC title Thurman relinquished.
“I’m happy to be part of the FOX Sports broadcast for this exciting fight,” Thurman said. “Boxing fans should be excited, too. I’ve always been Team Porter, from an amateur level, and I support all he has given to the sport. But Ugas knows what it’s like to fight the hard fight. Since it’s my division, I’ll have my eye on the winner.”
Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) and Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) have a friendly rivalry. Thurman, of Clearwater, Florida, topped Porter by unanimous decision in a completely competitive, 12-round, 147-pound championship match in June 2016 at Barclays Center, where they competed in one of the best action fights of that year.
The Porter-Thurman battle drew a peak audience of 3.94 million viewers on CBS that night. BoxingScene.com has learned that FOX executives have designs on airing a Porter-Thurman rematch on that broadcast network later this year as part of its deal with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
First, of course, Las Vegas’ Porter must make a mandatory defense of his WBC welterweight title against the Cuban-born, Miami-based Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs). They’ll headline a tripleheader on FOX scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
That three-bout broadcast also will include an eight-round heavyweight battle between hard-hitting Nigerian prospect Efe Ajagba (8-0, 7 KOs) and veteran Amir Mansour (23-3-1, 16 KOs, 1 NC), of Wilmington, Delaware. Welterweights Abel Ramos (23-3-2, 18 KOs), of Casa Grande, Arizona, and Francisco Santana (25-6-1, 12 KOs), of Santa Barbara, California, also are scheduled to meet in a 10-rounder FOX will air.
FOX’s usual broadcast team of blow-by-blow announcer Chris Myers, former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and respected trainer Joe Goossen will work those three fights.
The televised action will begin Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT with two undercard fights on FS1.
Bantamweight prospect Damien Vazquez (14-0, 7 KOs), of Thornton, Colorado, and former WBA/IBO champ Juan Carlos Payano (20-2, 9 KOs), of La Vega, Dominican, Republic, are set to meet in a 10-rounder as part of the “FOX PBC Fight Night Prelims” on FS1. That portion of the programming also will feature 2016 Lithuanian Olympian Eimantas Stanionis (7-0, 5 KOs), who’ll box Puerto Rico’s Sammy Figueroa (11-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-rounder.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.