Welterweight titleholder Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter will finally get it on.
One of the marquee fights in boxing will take place March 12 at the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, and will be televised in prime time on CBS (8:30 p.m. ET), organizers announced on Saturday.
Although Thurman and Porter have had their recent fights on Premier Boxing Champions cards, which their adviser, Al Haymon, has bought time for on a variety of networks, including CBS, this fight will not carry PBC branding. Instead, it will be branded as "Showtime Championship Boxing on CBS." CBS is the parent company of Showtime, which will produce the telecast.
Regardless, Thurman-Porter matches young, dynamic and crowd-pleasing 147-pounders in a much-anticipated bout.
"Thurman versus Porter is a marquee matchup of two elite boxers in the prime of their careers, and the winner will establish himself as arguably the No. 1 fighter in boxing's glamour division," Showtime Sports vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza said. "Fights of this caliber don't come along very often, and when they do, they deserve to be on the biggest stage possible. That's why all of us at Showtime and CBS are so excited to be able to deliver this pivotal matchup to a prime-time audience on America's highest-rated network."
Thurman and Porter, who have known each other since their days as amateurs, were initially penciled in to fight Dec.12 before that fell through. There was talk about the fight taking place on various dates in January and February before it was finally squared away for March 12.
Thurman said he is ready to go.
"Last year was an amazing year for me," Thurman said. "I headlined the very first Premier Boxing Champions show and was named PBC Fighter of the Year. But this is my year to dominate the welterweight division, and I'm excited to be getting ready to take out Shawn Porter."
Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs), 27, of Clearwater, Florida, will be making his third title defense. He battered Robert Guerrero and knocked him down in the ninth round en route to a unanimous decision in his first defense last March in the first PBC main event, a prime-time card on NBC. Thurman followed with a seventh-round knockout of former titleholder Luis Collazo in July in front of a hometown crowd in Tampa, Florida, in a PBC on ESPN main event.
"I am ready to get back in the ring and bring boxing fans what they've been looking for: the top true welterweight champion of the world, the one who is going to take out all competitors one by one," Thurman said. "I am Keith 'One-Time' Thurman, and I'm going to show you what a champion looks like on March 12."
Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs), 28, of Las Vegas by way of Akron, Ohio, won a world title by decision against Devon Alexander in 2013 and successfully defended it once, in a one-sided fourth-round knockout of former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi in 2014 before losing his belt by majority decision to England's Kell Brook in August 2014.
But Porter bounced back with a strong 2015 in a pair of wins on PBC cards. He scored a fifth-round knockout of Erick Bone in March on Spike and then upset Adrien Broner by unanimous decision in June on NBC in prime time.
Thurman said he feels as though he will be the one to end Thurman's unbeaten streak.
"I'm very confident in my ability," Porter said. "That's why I've been looking forward to this fight, because I'm someone who can beat Keith Thurman. Nothing about Keith really makes me nervous.
"I do know that he's going to be ready for this fight. He's a fighter that has the heart of a lion just like I do. I expect this to be a fight to the finish. A win over Keith Thurman is what we've been waiting for."
According to CBS, the fight will be the first prime-time boxing event on the network since Feb. 15, 1978, when Muhammad Ali lost a 15-round split decision and the heavyweight title to Leon Spinks in a massive upset.
"Keith Thurman against Shawn Porter is one of the best matchups that can be made in the welterweight division right now," said Lou DiBella, who will promote the fight. "The hard-punching world titleholder Thurman and the highly skilled former champion Porter will have the opportunity to prove that they are the next heir to the throne in the post-[Floyd] Mayweather era of the 147-pound division."
The undercard has not yet been determined.