Bounty of matchups await PBC welterweights

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Champions Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman, former titleholders Andre Berto, Adrien Broner, Luis Collazo and Danny Garcia, top 147-pound contenders Jamal James and Yordenis Ugas and unified lightweight champion Mikey Garcia all discuss their eagerness to face one another for welterweight glory.

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Garcia vs Porter - Watch Video Highlights | September 8, 2018

Welterweight contender Jamal James watched from the sixth row at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as Shawn Porter scored a unanimous decision win over Danny Garcia to claim the WBC’s vacant 147-pound crown this past Saturday night.

Sitting in front of James were unbeaten 147-pound champions Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman, unified lightweight champion Mikey Garcia as well as welterweight contenders Adrien Broner and Andre Berto.

They all are a part of a stacked rotation of crowd-pleasing PBC welterweights looking to make intriguing matchups. Spence is targeting Porter, Mikey Garcia has his eye on Spence, etc., etc.

“It was great seeing all the big names, Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Mikey Garcia, Adrien Broner,” James said. “I’m glad Yourdenis Ugas won the fight. It made me hungrier sitting there thinking down the road that maybe we can run it back. I visualize myself as the ninja coming out of the back, creeping up to take the throne because, eventually, someone’s gotta give me that title shot.”

Spence earned his crown in May 2017 via 11th-round stoppage of England’s Kell Brook.

“I’d like the Mikey Garcia fight in December or January. Shawn Porter can take a little bit of time off and come back in the first or second term of next year. I’d like Mikey Garcia before that,” said Spence, 28, whose last fight was a first-round, body shot knockout of previously unbeaten Carlos Ocampo, representing his second title defense and 11th-straight knockout.

“Shawn Porter’s a come-forward fighter, I’m a fighter who stands there and fights, and I feel like I’ll stop Shawn Porter. … I told Keith Thurman I’ll stop him in the sixth [round]. … I’d fight Ugas, too. He’s the No. 1-ranked contender to my IBF belt, so we’re gonna have to fight. … I’m a way better fighter than [WBO counterpart] Terence Crawford. … I want to unify, and, eventually, become the undisputed welterweight champion of the world.”

Mikey Garcia’s won consecutive one-knockdown unanimous decisions to dethrone previously unbeaten fighters Sergey Lipinets and Robert Easter Jr. in March and July. Garcia earned his fourth crown at 140 pounds against Lipinets, and became a unified champion for the first time at 135 against Easter.

“My main target, focus and No. 1 goal right now is getting a fight with Errol Spence,” said Garcia, 30, who would be making his 147-pound debut.

“If Errol for some reason is unavailable, then I’ll see what options are available. But I’m still focused solely on getting an Errol Spence fight. Nothing else excites me other than that one, so we’re working on that.”

Porter, 30, earned his third-straight victory since a unanimous decision loss in June 2016 to Thurman.

Although Porter could be forced by the WBC to make at least one mandatory defense, his father and trainer, Kenny, clearly wants Spence next.

“If anybody decides to do anything other than [Spence] that’s not in our control. But we want to fight Errol Spence,” said Kenny Porter. “I want Shawn to fight … Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Errol Spence, Bud Crawford. Great fighters who should make each other great.”

I could give Errol Spence, Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia a great fight and beat any of them if they step up to the plate. Welterweight contender Yordenis Ugas

Spence said Brooklyn-based, left-handed former champion, Luis Collazo (38-7, 20 KOs) is another consideration, having won two straight and one by knockout since falling by seventh-round TKO to Thurman, whom Collazo hurt badly with a fifth-round left hand to the liver in July 2015.

Collazo has seven knockouts in his past 11 victories.

“I was in the fight with Thurman until my corner stopped it due to a cut over my right eye I couldn’t see out of,” said Collazo, 37. “If a Spence fight presents itself, I would absolutely be ready to take it.”

Meanwhile, Ugas has won eight straight, four by stoppage, to position himself for a title shot if not another big opportunity.

“Errol’s the best fighter in the division if not the world, and I’m the No. 2-ranked contender for his title and a mandatory for Shawn Porter’s,” said Ugas, 32. “I could give Errol Spence, Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia a great fight and beat any of them if they step up to the plate.”

The 35-year-old Berto (32-5, 24 KOs) ended a 16-month ring absence and declared himself “still sharp” and “the possibilities endless” following last month’s split-decision victory over Devon Alexander.

Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) was similarly rejuvenated in April after battling to a 144-pound catchweight draw with former two-division champion Jessie Vargas.

“My stock has gone up,” said Broner, 29. “I can go to 140 and snatch another title or go to 147. I’ve got options at either weight class.”

Danny Garcia vows to rebound from Saturday’s loss to Porter like he did from Thurman with February’s ninth-round stoppage of former titleholder Brandon Rios.

“Both losses were tough for me, but being a true champion, I still have a lot of fight left in me,” said Garcia, 30. “I’ve gotta sit back and see what’s next for me, go back to the drawing board, get back on track, seeing what we’ve gotta do to improve, get better and close out a great career.”

Thurman is in a similar position following 18 months of inactivity since defeating Gracia, despite being 8-0 with four knockouts starting with a two-knockdown, 10th-round stoppage that dethroned Diego Chaves in July 2013.

“One Time's” seven title defenses include defeating Porter and Garcia, a unanimous decision over left-handed ex-champion Robert Guerrero, and the seventh- and third-round stoppages of Collazo and former titleholder Julio Diaz.

“I’ve accomplished a lot in the sport, yet, we’re at a standstill. It can be very frustrating. I just wanna be injury-free and get back to work and have a few more good years at the top,” said Thurman, 29.

“I love the sport of boxing, and I miss it very much. I look forward to being in action and when I do get back, I look forward to reminding and showing the world why Keith Thurman is the No. 1 welterweight.”

Meanwhile, James has developed a crippling left hook which keyed third- and second-round stoppages of Chaves (December 2017) and Mahonry Montes last month, strengthening his mandatory challenger status to Thurman and Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), the WBA’s “super” and regular champions.

James ended a run of three-straight stoppage victories by Chaves with a body attack similar to that which hurt Thurman against Collazo, did what former titlists Tim Bradley and Rios could not as Chaves battled to a draw with the former (December 2014) and lost by disqualification to the latter (August 2014).

“That [body shot] is an intriguing selling point if I’m fighting Thurman for a world title because I’ll jump right on him,” said James, who faced Ugas on three day’s notice after original opponent Bryant Perella pulled out with a thumb injury.

“Thurman and I both fought Chaves, and my height and reach could create obstacles. Thurman’s been off, so he could have some ring rust, which could work in my favor being his first fight back. But you can’t overlook a hungry world champion. Keith Thurman or Manny Pacquiao make the most sense, and I’m hungry for either of them.”

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