As it currently stands, the attention of the welterweight division & most of boxing moreover, will center around one fighter until he completes 4 more fights. Floyd Mayweather Junior is scheduled to take on Marcos Maidana on May 3rd, then will have 3 fights remaining on his 6 fight contract with Showtime. After his victory over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in September, most wondered who else “Money” could fight that would make any sense. While Amir Khan’s name kept coming up as a business move, the fight is not scheduled, nor is a fight with perhaps the only man that really makes fighting sense, Manny Pacquiao. With these considerations, the casual fan may need an introduction to Keith Thurman Junior.
Perhaps no other boxer has called out their division as comprehensively as Thurman has. In a recent discussion with Laceup Boxing, Thurman stated in response to questions about potential opponents, “I’ll fight Mayweather, Maidana, Porter, Khan, Broner, Collazo, Bradley, Pacquiao, Marquez, Malignaggi, whoever. I’m calling them all out!!!!” The man is ready & eager to any challenge, and it appears that it comes from a champions competitive drive, not a businessman’s eager wallet.
One response to Thurman could be that you’ve heard this before. Robert Guerrero called out Floyd Mayweather when Guerrero was relatively unknown & then was widely outpointed after getting in the ring with him. Why would we expect any different from Thurman?
To be fair, Thurman & Guerrero may be very similar in skill. We’d know how they stood up to one another had Guerrero accepted a proposed bout between Thurman & himself late last year. For reasons unknown, the fight did not happen & Guerrero is coming up on a year out of the ring, while Thurman is fresh off a mid December, 9th round knockout of Jesus Soto Karass. With the victory, Thurman’s record improved to 22-0 with 20 knockouts. His name is being increasingly mentioned for major bouts & increasing purses & for what it’s worth, his following on Twitter has at least doubled. Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer is currently attempting to sign Thurman up for a late April card that would also include Lucas Matthysse.
Nicknamed, “One Time,” for his motto that all it takes is one time, i.e. one punch to earn a victory, Thurman has steadily & skillfully climbed the ranks of the welterweight division. At this time last year, he was not in ESPN.com’s top ten rankings among welterweights, but with a knockout of previously unbeaten Diego Chavez along with the victory over Soto Karass, who had put together several recent victories, Thurman is a lion on the prowl. He talks, but thus far, he has kept pace with every commitment he has made.
So what’s next for Thurman? There doesn’t seem to be a sufficient answer at this point. With a fighter so eager & ready, he should have no problem getting an opponent. He draws a following & where a following is, there is also money. Fighters cannot make that excuse to avoid him at this point, (see Paulie Malignaggi). What one has to appreciate most about Thurman is his bold confidence. When asked in the same conversation with Laceup Boxing about the possibility of making it onto the May 3rd undercard of the Mayweather vs Maidana bout, this was Thurman’s response:
“I wanted to fight Floyd after the first time I fought on major TV. People thought I was crazy. I know if given the chance I would beat Mayweather. I don’t work as hard as I do to not want to fight the best. Now Floyd has Al Haymon’s number very well. If he wants to get in with me in September I’ll show Floyd why they call me One Time.”
While any fan knows that fighters may have the motive of money when it comes to fighting Floyd Mayweather, this statement has a vastly different tone than that which came from Amir Khan. Khan passed up a great matchup with Devon Alexander & held out for a fight that he did not get. Thurman is here, ready, willing, & eager. He doesn’t want increased exposure. He may want more money which he can’t be faulted for, but from every indication, Thurman wants to be the best. He wants to do so by beating the best & anyone who may claim to be close to the top. Though he has half the fights under his belt as Floyd Mayweather, he has as much heart as anyone in the sport, and perhaps as much skill.