Former welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter has not fought since his upset decision win over Adrien Broner in June and was going to have been out of the ring for nine months when he was scheduled to fight challenger titleholder Keith Thurman on March 12 in one of boxing's most anticipated fights.
When Thurman suffered minor injuries in a car accident, the fight was postponed two weeks ago, with no certainty of when it would be rescheduled, though all signs point to June.
That would mean Porter will go into the biggest fight of his career coming off a one-year layoff, which he did not want. Furthermore, he has put in a nearly full training in preparation for the March 12 bout, which was scheduled to air in prime time on CBS from the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Not wanting to waste his camp and wanting to simulate a real fight, Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) announced Monday that he will make the unusual move of facing Lanardo Tyner (30-10-2, 19 KOs) in a 12-round exhibition bout -- as in, not an official fight. The exhibition is scheduled to take place at 10 p.m. ET Saturday at Porter's gym, the Porter Hy-Performance Center in Las Vegas.
Porter and Tyner will wear headgear and use 16-ounce gloves (instead of the eight-ounce gloves used by professional welterweights). The fighters will weigh in the day before the match, but they said there will be no involvement from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Unofficial judges will score the fight, and a professional referee will be used to give the bout the atmosphere of an authentic fight night.
"We decided to do this because we needed the things associated with a big fight -- the atmosphere, the crowd, the lights," said Kenny Porter, Shawn's father and trainer. "We're going to have everything a big fight will have -- a weigh-in the [day] before, the referee, the ring card girls. Mentally and physically, Shawn needs this because he hasn't fought in [nine] months."
The exhibition will be streamed live on the Premier Boxing Champions Facebook page. Following the exhibition, Porter will host a 30-minute live chat with fans on the same Facebook page.
"When I found out about March 12 not happening because of what happened to Keith, I tried to move forward to fight someone else," Shawn Porter said. "But given the level of that fight with Keith, there wasn't anything for me, really. So my dad and I decided to do this exhibition. I'm not getting paid. This is 100 percent for anybody out there who loves to see me compete and perform. Lanardo Tyner is a veteran who has fought almost everybody, and he'll provide good excitement. We won't be going through the motions. This is real."
Kenny Porter said his son continued to train when the fight with Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) was postponed, and the exhibition against Tyner will help him maintain his focus.
"We're doing the exhibition because Shawn was so focused on fighting Keith Thurman that we wanted to keep him focused until we can determine when they'll be boxing again," Kenny Porter said. "We were getting off a plane in Big Bear [California] for training camp when we heard that Keith had been injured and couldn't fight on March 12.
"We continued to spar and train. We figured the only way we could keep that focus was to have someone push Shawn for 12 rounds -- or however long it lasts."
In addition to Porter-Tyner, there will be a four-round amateur bout between middleweight Brandyn Lynch, nephew of Hollywood star Eddie Murphy, and Joey Alday.