Keith Thurman’s thirst for exposure wasn’t quenched by his latest welterweight title defense or a prime-time CBS audience.
“You’ve got to ride the train,” Thurman said at his post-fight news conference early Sunday morning after enduring the pressure of challenger Shawn Porter to win a narrow unanimous decision by three 115-113 scores at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
“It won’t be one fight that makes Keith Thurman. It’s the continuation, building the pedigree.”
Being an unbeaten World Boxing Assn. champion in boxing’s richest weight class should assure Thurman (27-0) will have that opportunity.
Other unbeaten champions in the division include the World Boxing Council’s Danny Garcia and International Boxing Federation’s Kell Brook, while Errol Spence is regarded as one of boxing’s top young fighters, and veterans Amir Khan and Timothy Bradley still hover.
By winning four of the final five rounds on two judges’ scorecards, Thurman edged Porter by wobbling him in the 10th round and adapting to what the champion described as Porter’s “bull-rush” mentality.
“I did exactly what I thought I was going to do to win the fight: defense, pick your shots, short uppercuts on the inside,” Thurman said. “I’m not afraid. If you can beat me, beat me. He was trying to smother me, I threw back and it was a great fight.
“This is what it was advertised to be: two young, strong, American fighters going toe to toe in their prime.”
While Thurman may be locked into a lesser-profile mandatory defense later this year, fight promoter Lou DiBella said he’s reached out to Brook and fellow champion Jessie Vargas’ promoters to initiate a welterweight unification series.
Thurman, Garcia, Khan and Porter are all managed by Al Haymon. Garcia appears headed to a date with former welterweight champion Andre Berto in the coming months.
But Thurman all but begged for a date with the Philadelphia fighter after taking pride in the test of mettle that Porter presented.
Punch statistics showed Porter connected on 236 punches to Thurman’s 235, while Thurman landed 203 power punches to Porter’s 177.
“He was giving it his all, but I landed the clearer punches more times and rocked him several times in the fight,” Thurman said. “ … We wish we could’ve done more. We did enough. I boxed smart.”
With that, Thurman pounded the point that he wants to emerge from the crowded field following Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao’s retirements.
“We’re in a new time, there’s a new age, a new generation and your boy ‘One Time’ is here right up front, ready to go,” he said. “I’ve got an ‘0,’ and I’m not afraid to let it go. If you can beat me, beat me, you deserve it.”
He also called the first prime-time card on CBS since Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks I in 1978 “a dream come true.”
Overnight ratings showed the 2.6 rating at the end of Thurman-Porter should make it the most-watched boxing telecast of the year, according to a CBS spokesman.
“The beauty is we have a manager and promoter who understand the philosophy of bringing the fights back to the people … I don’t want pay-per-view,” Thurman said. “I don’t want you to pay for this entertainment. There’s too much world-class entertainment for free.
“I want all of America to see. I didn’t have HBO or Showtime growing up. I’m not trying to gouge the American public. I want boxing to come back to the forefront of network television.
“And me being the undefeated champion, my stock has risen.”
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire