By: Kirk Jackson
Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-1, 22 KO’s) aims to not only get back on the winning track, but also targets to stake claim as top dog in this current wave of a welterweights in what is considered one of boxing’s historic divisions.
As of late, Thurman is keeping busy, barking threats at the top guy in the division.
“I’m ready to get back in with all this competition,” Thurman told boxing publication, Pep Talk UK.
“My mind mentally would love a rematch with Manny Pacquiao. I think it’s a worthy rematch and a deserved rematch. It’s an epic fight… It’s whatever doors will open. If I have to fight a Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia. I’d be surprised if Errol Spence hops on the table right away, but there are so many opportunities.”
That quote featured five names, all five fighters great in their own way. But there is one fighter among the bunch that sticks out as a thorn in Thurman’s side.
Enter “The Truth” Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KO’s). The undefeated, unified IBF and WBC welterweight champion, is noted for telling foes to “Keep that same energy,” essentially stating to hold on to the same stance held before and after the action that transpires.
Spence also happens to be one of the main names linked to Thurman over the past several years.
Following the actions of Thurman, or career trajectory as far as fight selection, and the lack of the fight transpiring between him and Spence over the past several years, there may be an understanding level of skepticism, upon hearing recent proclamations from the former welterweight champion.
“Errol [Spence] going to have to give me my respect one way or another. If he doesn’t want to see me at 147, he’s going to have to leave the division.”
After all this time, does anyone believe Thurman is in an immediate rush to face Spence? With lucrative opportunities and legacy defining fights awaiting Spence in the welterweight division, why would Spence leave this weight class? What leverage does Thurman hold, to force Spence out of the division?
Is Thurman serious, or is he clout chasing?
This is the fight game and business ideally must match the needs of each respective team before opposing sides can come to an agreement, but business and politics aside, Thurman never appeared in a hurry, to face what many fans and experts considered to be Thurman’s toughest challenger.
Well that was until Thurman faced Pacquiao, in what was a highly competitive, razor thin decision in favor of the senator from the Philippines.
And speaking of Pac-Man, it can be argued for the past several years, Spence has been chasing around Thurman, Spence portraying Pac-Man and Thurman portraying one of those ghosts chased around, once Pac-Man absorbs an energizer.
Thurman like other fellow fighters, athletes and everyone generally speaking, is plagued with issues from this pandemic. But even aside from that particular problem, Thurman’s lack of activity, is apparent over the past stretch of years.
Dating back to July of 2015, Thurman has only competed five times.
Injuries have also tampered with Thurman’s reign as world champion. Questions aimed at his durability and physical health, dedication and focus to the sport, have come into question in recent years. According to his own testimony, he was injured in most of his recent fights. The mental aspect of recovery and rehabilitation is a war in itself.
“It’s hard for someone to show me an opportunity and watch me say no,” said Thurman. “I could maybe take a tune-up. But I like great fights and significant challenges. Whoever, I fight, I know there’s going to be a following. I want to make it worth my while. Those training camps are not easy. I want my opponent to be worthy of all the pain and suffering that is involved in the whole event for it to be really worthwhile.”
With inquiries relating to his history of injuries, along with data to support certain claims, some observers are wondering if he will return to the form that earned him decision wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. The same form, that enabled Thurman to hold multiple welterweight titles at one time.
It’s fairly reasonable for someone to question Thurman’s true intentions regarding his desire to face Spence.
The truth is, Thurman is a talented fighter. Thurman is intelligent, has a gift of gab and is as entertaining with his words, as he is with his punches. That is a rare, complimentary combination.
But the truth may also be, Thurman is no longer the top guy across his division and at this moment in time, not even in the conversation. Words and accomplishments from yesteryear can only carry you so far. This is a what have you done for me lately kind of business.
Although boasting close wins over Porter and Garcia, they may be positioned with greater opportunities comparatively to Thurman. Due to their level of activity, success, public perception, durability and fortune of good health, they are positioned to take fights against Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence, or even Terence Crawford.
Due to inactivity and uncertainty, some may argued Thurman has faltered below to the second tier of elite welterweight. That talented group of fighters featuring Jessie Vargas, Yordenas Ugas, Sergey Lipnets, Adrien Broner, among a few others.
An additional problem for the former champion, is another wave of welterweights may be on the way soon. Josh Taylor, Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez may move up within the next year or so adding more muscle to the division. The young guns Jaron Ennis and Vergil Ortiz are also waiting in the wing.
With this infusion of talent and additional depth added to the weight class, “One Time” may be on limited time.
As far as securing a showdown with “The Truth,” tables have turned indeed and it is Thurman allegedly giving chase to the opportunity that lies in wait with Spence.
“Everyone is gunning for him, and if he wants to stay champion, he’s going to have to answer to everybody or follow after his predecessor and dodge everybody and pick who he chooses,” Thurman said. “He’s faced some of my competition, but he’s never faced me. I did that with Errol when he fought Shawn Porter. I got a lot of people that think the way I beat Porter was better.”
Only difference is, Spence verbally expresses the interest to face his challengers and so far, is backing up his talk.
The predecessor Thurman is referring to, in Floyd Mayweather, defeated 24 world champions, won 11 world titles, five weight classes, etc.
Albeit Thurman never got his shot, Mayweather obviously faced his fair share of top-level competition. And for argument sake, Mayweather beat a younger version of the same fighter who handed Thurman his first professional defeat.
The truth is, given Thurman’s high intellect, there’s more than what meets the eye with his recent proclamations.
All roads through welterweight must eventually go through Errol Spence. Time will tell if Keith “One Time” Thurman can handle the truth.