By: Hans Themistode
With twenty nine bouts and nine of those coming in the form of title fights, including eight defenses, WBA Welterweight belt holder Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) has a plethora of experience to rely on. He’ll need every bit of it as he takes on Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) on July 20th, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thurman took a trip down memory lane as he gave a complete breakdown of how each of those nine title fights went down.
10th Round Stoppage Over Diego Chaves On July 27th, 2013, AT&T Center, San Antonio Texas
Thurmans first crack at a world title came of the interim variety. On July 27th, 2013, Thurman took on the undefeated Diego Chaves. The aforementioned Chaves wasn’t just defeating opponents, he was steamrolling them as he was riding a five fight knockout streak going into that contest. Thurman rose to the occasion and put on a show.
“The Diego Chaves fight was the biggest fight of my career, elevation me to the WBA interim champion,” recalled Thurman. “ I broke him down round by round and landed a beautiful body shot in the ninth round and after that it was a matter of time. That was a fight that earned me worldwide respect and was the start of everything for me.”
TKO 9 Jesus Soto Karass, December 14, 2013, Alamodome, San Antonio
Thurman’s first defense of the interim title came against Jesus Soto Karass. He booked his spot against Thurman by stopping former champion Andre Berto in his previous contest. In that bout Thurman made a statement to the boxing world.
“Soto Karass was coming off a victory over Andre Berto which made it an important measuring stick fight for me,” said Thurman, “He did open the fight by tagging me in the first round, but I dropped him in the fifth and again in the ninth and was able to finish him off for my first title defense.”
Knockout 3rd round, Julio Diaz, April 26, 2014, StubHub Center, Carson, California
Thurman kept his momentum rolling in his second title defense against former champion Julio Diaz. What ensued was an emphatic victory for the young undefeated champion.
“That was a tremendous fight for me as the headliner in my first main event,” said Thurman. “Diaz was coming off of good showings against Shawn Porter, fighting Porter to a draw once, and Amir Khan, whom he dropped in their fight. I also had the opportunity to make a statement. I did that by stopping him in only three rounds.”
Decision Over Leonard Bundu, December 13, 2014, the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas:
Leonard Bundu was next on the list for Thurman. At the time, he was an undefeated awkward fighter. At the age of 40, Thurman had a clear advantage in terms of youth. He used every bit of that edge and rolled to an easy victory.
“Bundu was a switch-hitting awkward fighter. I switched [to southpaw] on him in the first round and dropped him with a right hand,” said Thurman. “I out boxed him and really gave the world a taste of how good of a boxer I am. It was an easy blowout.”
Decision Win over Robert Guerrero, March 7, 2015, the MGM Grand Grand Garden Arena
Former Welterweight champion Robert Guerrero, has always been a tough out. Questions surrounding Thurmans toughness were quickly answered. Not only did he overcome an absurd hematoma but he also managed to drop the former champion and ultimately cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
“Guerrero had fought Floyd Mayweather and I was happy to have a common opponent with Floyd, so that I could prove to the world that I deserved a shot at Mayweather,” said Thurman. “I had to overcome that adversity of having that hematoma by knocking him down in the ninth round. That fight really raised my stock to another level.”
7th Round Corner Stoppage Over Luis Collazo, July 11, 2015, USF Sundome, Tampa:
A 2015 matchup against former champion Luis Collazo, allowed the boxing world to see Thurman like never before. A body shot from Collazo in the fifth round saw Thurman in serious trouble. It was the first time that he was in serious trouble. Instead of folding, he bit down on his mouthpiece and gutted out an impressive stoppage win.
“I was able to survive that body shot to perform in the next round. The fight was taking its toll on him though. I was becoming more comfortable and accurate as I physically broke him down,” said Thurman. “The arena was electric, and the love was amazing. It was a great homecoming to defend my world title near where I grew up in Clearwater, Florida.”
Decision Win Over Shawn Porter, June 25, 2016, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
Shawn Porter came into this contest well known for his aggressive, come forward style. At this point in his career, it seemed as though it would be Thurmans toughest match yet. The contest proved to be just that. Not only did the contest live up to the hype but it also won fight of the year.
“Our fight was tough, back and forth, but by no means was Shawn Porter going to take my title,” said Thurman. “I pushed myself over the final rounds to make sure I’d be victorious in what was one of the ‘Fight of The Year’ contenders that year. That fight proved to everyone that I can win any type of fight, against any type of fighter.”
Split Decision Win Over Danny Garcia, Unification Match, March 4, 2017, Barclays Center
Thurman unified his WBA and WBC title on on March 4th, 2017, then undefeated Danny Garcia and also undefeated Keith Thurman clashed at the Barclay Center. Not only was it the tenth unification clash in the history of the Welterweight division, but it was also just the third time that it came against two undefeated fighters. After a close twelve rounds of fighting, it was Thurman who was victorious.
“This was two undefeated welterweights going toe-to-toe in the prime of their careers. Danny Garcia’s a sharp puncher who won the WBC’s vacant title that Floyd Mayweather gave up for retirement,” said Thurman. “But after beating Shawn Porter, I knew Danny would be an easy fight. This was my first chance to beat an undefeated world champion, and I came out swinging on him in round one to make a statement that his world title was about to be mine.”
Majority Decision Win Over Josesito Lopez, January 26, 2019, Barclays Center
Following the two biggest wins of his career, Thurman was forced to the sidelines with elbow and hand injuries. The former resulting in elbow surgery. After a 22 month recuperation period, Thurman took on veteran fighter Josesito Lopez. It looked like nothing more than a simple tune up bout. One that would make Thurman look good. It turned out to be anything but.
“I was really nervous about making weight after walking around at 182 for the past two years,” said Thurman. “But even though I got hit and hurt in the seventh round, I knew my boxing ability would get me through. It was a relief to make it through that fight feeling strong and healthy and I’ve taken those feelings right into this training camp.”
With all of this experience in the memory bank of Thurman, he plans on using it to his advantage come fight night against Manny Pacquiao. A win, is not good enough for Thurman. He wants to make a statement that resonates loud and clear to the rest of the Welterweight division.
“Does Manny belong in the ring with a fighter in his prime? Is Keith Thurman still Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman after some vulnerability against Josesito Lopez?” said Thurman, rhetorically speaking. “Of course, I’d like to get the knockout or TKO, but either way, you’re going to see a world class performance that has me standing alone on top of a division that has so many great fighters. I’m trying to be that great, devastating champion once again, and come July 20, I will prove that I am.”