KEITH THURMAN successfully defended his WBA world welterweight title against old friend Shawn Porter at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York last night.

The bout was closely contested all night as the pair put on a thriller, with Thurman maintain his unbeaten record on scores of 115-113 from all three judges at ringside.

“I want to thank Shawn Porter for a tremendous fight. He’s a great warrior,” Thurman said.

“Shawn brought it today. He was on me. But I knew that defense would be the key to victory. He smothers his punches a lot and it’s very difficult for the judges to give him clear scoring.

“I was able to rock him with clear, effective blows, and I believe that was the key to victory today. He’s in tremendous shape and is a tremendous athlete, and I would love to see him in the ring again if he wanted it.”

Porter, who suffered a second career defeat after Kell Brook took the IBF title off him in 2014, felt he did enough to win but is proud of his performance.

“At the end of the day, I’m blessed,” he said.

“We worked hard. Keith is a great champion. My dad [trainer Ken Porter] says to keep your head up. I think I won the fight, but I’m satisfied, because the competitor came out tonight.”

The fight was originally scheduled for March though was postponed after Thurman suffered minor injuries in a traffic accident.

It was worth the weight as both men went on the attack from the get-go, Porter driving Thurman to the ropes in the second and letting loose. Both men seemed to be staggered by right hands in the third before Thurman buckled Porter’s knees with a punishing combination in the fourth.

The middle stages were close, however the ninth was hellacious. They exchanged on the ropes before a left hook hurt Porter, then neither backed down for the final 30 seconds of the stanza.

Porter was once again stunned in the 10th but they both went for broke in the 12th, exchanging without caution until the final bell.

There was talk of a rematch immediately after, though Thurman has myriad options after earning his biggest win to date.