Welterweight world titleholder Keith Thurman, who has lingering soreness stemming from a car accident during a rainstorm last week, postponed on Monday his highly anticipated defense against former titleholder Shawn Porter.
Thurman and Porter were scheduled to meet March 12 at the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, in the main event of a hybrid Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime Championship Boxing card on CBS in prime-time.
"While it's unfortunate that we must temporarily postpone this marquee matchup, a main event of the magnitude of Thurman versus Porter requires both fighters be healthy and at their best," promoter Lou DiBella said. "Keith is anxious to resume training as soon he is able, and both he and Shawn are looking forward to a new fight date."
Now that the CBS telecast is off, the remainder of the card might be moved to Showtime, DiBella said. He said he, Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza and Tom Cantone, senior vice president of sports and entertainment at Mohegan Sun, are discussing their options. According to CBS, the card was supposed to be the first in prime-time 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.
DiBella told ESPN.com that although Thurman was not seriously injured in the car accident, the airbags deployed upon impact and badly shook him up.
"Keith told me the airbag hit him harder than any punch he has ever been hit by," DiBella said. "It was not a high-speed accident, but the airbag deployed, and he got hit hard by it. He had an MRI, a CT scan and X-rays, and they were all negative, so he will be fine. He wanted to suck it up, but the doctor told him he took a significant hit from the airbag, so he took a couple of days off from training."
DiBella said the accident and uncertainty about the fight were the reasons for canceling last week's media conference call to promote the fight. The call had been rescheduled for Tuesday, but that also is now off.
"Keith was resting when we called off that call last week," DiBella said. "But he sparred on Saturday, and after sparring, his neck and shoulders locked up, and he was in a lot of pain. The doctors said, 'No, you can't fight. You need a number of weeks off to take it easy and do physical therapy.'
"He'll probably be off four to six weeks. The fight will happen next when he's healed and ready to go. I spoke to Keith, and he's bummed out. He's sore. He's not going to pull out of a fight for a bump or a bruise, but after sparring Saturday, his neck and shoulders locked up and he couldn't move. He went to two doctors, and they said it was like whiplash. It's not a significant injury, so he is a lucky young man. It's a matter of having to take a little bit of time, and he's very much looking forward to doing this fight. He's disappointed, but he knows it could have been worse."
Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs), 27, Clearwater, Florida, was supposed to make his third defense against Porter, whom he has known since they were amateurs. 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 in a one-sided, fourth-round knockout of former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi in 2014. Then he lost the 147-pound belt by majority decision to England's Kell Brook in August 2014. Porter has won two fights in a row since, including an upset decision against Adrien Broner in June.
DiBella said he hopes to keep the rest of the card intact to air on Showtime, including the original co-feature that was supposed to air on CBS, an all-Mexican featherweight bout between former three-division world titleholders Abner Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) and Fernando Montiel (54-5-2, 39 KOs), who are both coming off hard-fought decision losses in featherweight world title bouts.
The two other fights slated to be on the card have not been officially announced, though they would be part of a reworked Showtime broadcast, DiBella said. One would see featherweight world titleholder Gary Russell (26-1, 15 KOs), a speedy southpaw from Capitol Heights, Maryland, make his first defense against Ireland's Patrick Hyland (31-1, 15 KOs), who has won four fights in a row since a 2012 decision loss to Javier Fortuna in an interim featherweight title bout. The other would be a super middleweight clash between Worchester, Massachusetts, contender Edwin Rodriguez (28-1, 19 KOs) and Thomas Williams (19-1, 13 KOs), of Fort Washington, Maryland.
"Everyone is taken aback by what happened," DiBella said. "The [Thurman-Porter] fight just got postponed, so we're figuring out what to do, but it makes a lot of sense to keep the thing together if we can."