Keith Thurman vows to keep welterweight title in primetime boxing match

CBS airs highly anticipated fight
CBS airs highly anticipated fight 05:17

Taking a walk with boxer Keith Thurman isn't easy. Some fans just want to say hello.

"Maybe one day I'll be boxing in the U.S.," said one fan.

Others have a hard time saying goodbye.

"One time! I gotta get my phone out," Thurman said, after being stopped by a fan asking for a photo. "Ya'll got to excuse me -- me and my man are crazy about boxing. I am about to send him this picture, he's about to bug out."

To understand how the 27-year-old has earned this level of devotion, you have to look beyond the ring. There, he is known for his unmatched power, where 80 percent of the time, he knocks the other guy out.

But at home, Thurman is far more complex, reports "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Vinita Nair. He plays the piano, drives a Prius and gets acupuncture. When he sat down to talk about his upcoming fight with Shawn Porter -- the first to be broadcast in primetime on CBS in 38 years, when Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali in 1978 -- he showed off his wooden flute skills.

"You know, that's not how most boxers, or at least the perception of most boxers -- that's not what people think," Nair said.

"Well, I like being different. I like being hard to put in a box. At home, I have a pitbull and a chihuahua," Thurman said. "I guess maybe there is two sides of me -- the nice guy and then the beast within."

Thurman said he realized there was a beast within when he was 7 years old. He was enrolled in an afterschool program at the YMCA when famed trainer Ben Getty put on a boxing exhibition.

"I was like, dang, that was impressive. It really hit me instantly," Thurman recalled. "Instantly I knew I had to try it."

His first tries blew Getty away. The two started training together. Getty taught him everything he knew about boxing and encouraged him to learn everything else from other fighters.

"I dedicate some of my power to Mike Tyson. I watched a lot of film on Mike Tyson," Thurman said. "Then we started taking notes on Muhammad Ali. We took notes on Sugar Ray Leonard. What was that fighter known for? Why was he so difficult to beat in his time, in his era and, you know, why was he at the top?"

By 20, Thurman was almost at the top. After winning 101 amateur fights, he turned pro. Then Getty -- who had been by his side at every match -- unexpectedly died. He was 63 years old.

"Ben Getty believed in me before anyone else did. I dedicate everything to him each and every day. That's why I wear his name on my trunks," Thurman said.

While he wasn't wearing them at Friday's weigh-in with Shawn Porter, he'll have them on Saturday at the match. The two have trained together in the past and call each other friends.

"Does it make it harder to turn a friend into an enemy for one day?" Nair asked.

"No because it's for one day. It's for one day," Thurman responded. "He's a friend, but boxing is my life."

"If you had to predict, how many rounds will this fight last?" Nair asked.

"I would say that it's going to go the distance," Thurman said.

"I think it's important. I think this fight has become more important now because it's on network television, because it's two of the top guys in the business," said former fighter and ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas. "That could be the replacements of Mayweather and Pacquiao you know, this is the dress rehearsal."

It's a dress rehearsal to defend the title Thurman has relished for the past three years, as welterweight champion of the world. He predicts he'll knock Porter out and that everything he does outside of the ring makes him a champion inside of it.

"There's different kind of champions. There's the champion that becomes champion and they're not champion for long. And then you have the guy who becomes champion and he stays at the top for like a decade," Thurman explained. "And those fighters tend to be very intelligent. So for 20 years I have been a student of the game and I am still mastering my craft."

He is known for his nickname, One Time.

"When I'm walking past a crowd on fight week and they shout out One Time, I respond, 'All the time.' So it's 'one time, all the time, KOs for life.' And that's my motto," Thurman said.