Keith Thurman in Pursuit of Legends and Legendary Status
By: Kirk Jackson
The man known as “One Time” finally has his time across boxing’s biggest stage on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View. The date July 20th, 2019 is finally etched in stone, as former unified welterweight champion and current WBA (Super) welterweight champion Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KO’s), takes on eight-division and current WBA (Regular) welterweight champion, Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO’s).
For a large portion of his unblemished career, the Clearwater city-native chased the big fish. He famously chastised Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KO’s) for years, although while managing to conveniently circumvent a looming, menacing, encounter with a shark in the form of current IBF welterweight champion, Errol Spence (25-0, 21 KO’s).
However, en route to unifying the WBA and WBC welterweight titles, Thurman conquered former multi-division world champion Robert Guerrero (35-6-1, 20 KO’s), along with a series of other former world titlists. Thurman culminated his quest, defeating current WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KO’s) and former two-division champion Danny Garcia (35-2, 21 KO’s), capturing the WBC welterweight title in a unification bout.
A series of nagging injuries, along with a string of personal events subsequently followed, keeping Keith on the shelf for approximately 22 months. After a successful return bout and bouncing back from nearly a two-year absence, Thurman finally reeled in the catch of a lifetime in the form of Pacquiao.
The question beckons, now that he finally has this once in a lifetime opportunity, can “One-Time” still live up to his moniker under the bright lights of Showtime? Its been a long-time since he delivered on his promise of “KO’s for life.”
Not everyone is Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KO’s); armed with a right hand possessing the power of Thor’s hammer. And knockouts are not necessary, as of course this is the “Sweet Science.”
But when the fighter professes his love of knock-outs, with several quotes referencing such,
knock-outs should be delivered.
The last time Thurman stopped an opponent was Dec 14, 2013 – stopping gritty Jesús Soto Karass on the undercard of Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana.
In spite of the recent uphill battle, in his comeback bout after two years of inactivity against Josesito López, Thurman is still in a good position to end his KO-less streak against an aging fighter.
“I’m extremely excited for this opportunity to get a fight that I’ve wanted for a long time,” said Thurman at the Los Angeles Press Conference for Pacquiao-Thurman.
“The right circumstances have aligned for it to happen now and I’m grateful for that. Me and my team are looking forward to it. It’s going to be an honor to be in the ring with Manny Pacquiao. It’s going to be fun to go back to MGM Grand in my first pay-per-view with FOX Sports. I believe that Ben Getty would be very proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. He said I’d be able to dominate the welterweight division and be a multi-million-dollar fighter and a star in the sport.”
Thurman also eluded to weaknesses and deficiencies in Pacquiao’s style during the press conference.
“Manny Pacquiao is beatable. He’s been beaten before in his career. He’s a fan favorite and a legend. For me his boxing tactics are predictable. He fights in spurts and you have to take advantage of that. You have to be respectful of his power. But I believe my movement, athleticism and ring knowledge will be able to present him something he’s not seen in all his years of boxing.”
Thurman is in an interesting timeframe for boxing and for his weight class at welterweight. Regarded as one of boxing’s deepest divisions, match-ups of historic proportions remain a foreseeable possibility.
The champion from Clearwater, FL has the opportunity to align his stars with some of the greats of yesteryear and even with those of recent memory. Although the bulk of “One-Time’s” career is embedded in the pages of history, there are still many chapters left to unwind; meaning much is left to be determined and he has the opportunity to construct his legend.
Thurman believes his time is now and that with Pacquiao and Mayweather gone from the sport, it’ll leave him, Errol Spence, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter as the main guys in the 147-pound division.
The narrative of the eventual fight and the story is the already cemented legacy of Pacquiao, with Thurman chasing his footsteps. Although the focus is on one another, each fighter frequently mentioned in the past, and even still to this day, another legendary fighting potentially fighting into the equation.
“It’s really important to have a (rematch) with Floyd (Mayweather),” Pacquiao told FOX Sports’ Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe during a recent edition of Skip and Shannon: Undisputed on FS1. “Some fans still doubt who won the fight.”
“I still believe I deserved to win. But like I said, I respect the judges. It’s why we want the rematch though; people have a lot of question marks in their minds.”
Not certain many people doubt who truly won the fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather, nor is there much demand to the see the bout, as both fighters are in their 40s.
But as history indicates, whenever there’s a fight with Mayweather involved, typically it generates a lot of money for all parties involved.
Regarding Thurman, in speaking with Sporting News, he mentioned, “There were moments where I kind of knew Floyd (Mayweather) was not looking at me as an opponent toward the end of his career. One of those moments was when I became the WBA (Regular) champion and he became the [WBA] (Super) champion because the (Super) champion is not required to fight mandatories, so I could not force Floyd Mayweather in any position to step in the ring with me.”
“I just don’t think I was on Floyd’s to-do list and then I had a few minor setbacks – not the same as the elbow surgery, but some shoulder problems at that time,” Thurman added.
While referencing Pacquiao and Mayweather, it’s interesting analyzing and comparing Thurman’s career, to the two main legendary figures he is in pursuit of. It’s always fun to compare resumes and speculate right?
Keith Thurman: World Titles, World Title Fights and other feats
• WBA Welterweight (Interim/Regular) Title (July 27, 2013 – January 28, 2015; 5 defenses).
• WBA Welterweight (Super) Title (February 7, 2017 – present; 3 defenses).
• WBC Welterweight Title (March 4, 2017 – April 24, 2018; 0 defenses).
o Vacated WBC Welterweight Title in 2018.
(7-0, 3 KO’s) against world champions.
(5-0, 1 KO’s) in world title fights.
Notable opponents: Carlos Quintana, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, Shawn Porter, Robert Guerrero and Danny Garcia.
• Defeated 4 undefeated opponents with ten or more bouts.
• The Ring Magazine Prospect of the Year (2012).
• Winner of 2 World Titles.
Manny Pacquiao: World Titles, World Title Fights and other feats
• WBC World Flyweight Title (December 1998-September 1999; 1 defense).
• IBF World Super Bantamweight Title (June 2001-2003; 4 defenses).
• WBC World Super Featherweight Title (March 2008-July 2008; 0 defenses).
• WBC World Lightweight Title (June 2008-February 2009; 0 defenses).
• WBO (3) World Welterweight Title (November 2009-June 2012; 3 defenses, April 2014-May 2015; 1 defense, November 2016-present; 0 defenses).
• WBC World Super Welterweight Title (November 2010-February 2011; 0 defenses).
• WBA World Welterweight (Regular) Title (July 2018-present; 1 defense).
Ring Magazine Title
• World Featherweight Title (November 2003-March 2005; 2 defenses).
• World Junior Lightweight Title (March 2008-July 2008; 0 defenses).
• World Junior Welterweight Title (May 2009-July 2010; 0 defenses).
• World Flyweight Title (December 1998-September 1999).
• World Featherweight Title (November 2003-March 2005).
• World Junior Lightweight Title (March 2008-July 2008).
• World Junior Welterweight Title (May 2009-July 2010).
• World Welterweight Title (April 2016).
• Has a record of 18-4-2 (9 KO’s) in world title fights.
• Has a record of 24-6-2 (11 KO’s) against former, current, and future world champions.
• Has a record of 5-1 (4 KO’s)* against International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.
** As of 2019.
Notable opponents: Juan Manuel Marquez (4), Erik Morales (3), Marco Antonio Barrera (2), Chatchai Singwangcha, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Timothy Bradley (3), Floyd Mayweather, Chris Algieri and Joshua Clottey.
• Only boxer with 5 Lineal Titles.
• Only boxer with world titles spanning across 8 divisions.
• Winner of 9 World Titles.
Floyd Mayweather: World Titles, World Title Fights and other feats
• WBC Super Featherweight Title (1998-2002; 8 defenses).
• WBC Lightweight Title (2002-2004; 3 defenses).
• WBC Super Lightweight Title (2005; 0 defenses).
• IBF Welterweight Title (2006; 0 defenses)
• WBC (2) Welterweight Title (2006-2008; 1 defense, 2011-2015; 5 defenses).
• WBC Super Welterweight Title (2), (2007; 0 defenses, 2013-2015; 1 defense).
• WBA Super Welterweight (Super) Title (2012-2016; 1 defense).
• WBA Welterweight (Super) Title (2014-2016; 3 defenses).
• WBO Welterweight Title (2015; 0 defenses)
• Unified Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015; WBA, WBC).
• Unified Welterweight Title (2), (2014-2015; WBC, WBA, 2015; WBC, WBA, WBO).
• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and WBC Junior Middleweight Title (2007).
o Vacated WBC Junior Middleweight Title in 2007.
o Vacated WBC Welterweight Title in 2008.
• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and WBA Junior Middleweight Title (2012-2015).
• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2013-2015).
• Simultaneously held Unified Welterweight Title (WBC, WBA) and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2014-2015).
• Simultaneously held Unified Welterweight Title (WBC, WBA, WBO) and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2015).
o Stripped of WBO Welterweight Title in 2015.
o Vacated WBC Welterweight Title and WBC Junior Middleweight Title in 2015.
o Vacated WBA Welterweight Title and WBA Junior Middleweight Title in 2016.
The Ring Magazine Title
• World Lightweight Title (2002-2004).
• World Welterweight Title (2), (2006-2008, 2013-2015).
• World Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015).
• World Junior Lightweight Title (1998-2002).
• World Lightweight Title (2002-2004).
• World Welterweight Title (2), (2006-2008, 2010-2015).
• World Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015).
• (26-0, 10 KO’s) in world title fights.
• (23-0, 9 KO’s) in lineal title fights.
• (24-0, 7 KO’s) against world champions.
• Has a record of (13-0, 3 KO’s) against former or current lineal titlists.
• Has a record of (2-0, 1 KO’s)* against International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.
** As of 2019.
Notable opponents: Genaro Hernandez, Zab Judah, Jesus Chavez, Angel Manfredy, Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, Robert Guerrero, Arturo Gatti, Shamba Mitchell, DeMarcus Corley, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo (2), Marcos Maidana (2), Carlos Baldomir, Andre Berto and Canelo Alvarez.
• Fourth boxer to win a world title in at least five weight divisions (Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya).
• Second boxer to win a lineal title in at least four weight divisions (Manny Pacquiao).
• Holds the record for most world titles held simultaneously 5 (WBC, WBA, WBO Welterweight Titles and WBA, WBC Super Welterweight Titles).
• Olympic Bronze Medalist*
• Winner of 11 World Titles.
While comparing Thurman to Pacquiao and Mayweather by the numbers, it looks skewed heavily in favor of the legends. Albeit minor, there are discrepancies with some of the numbers.
For example, Thurman’s title defenses of his WBA (Regular) Welterweight Title are not tallied as official title defenses – at least according to Boxrec. However, that very same title (the world title Pacquiao currently covets) is listed as an official title defense against Adrien Broner across the very same site.
Another question is how the Lineal and The Ring titles are tallied. The Ring title, differing from the four sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO) awarded world title belts since 1922 and have their own championship policy. Again, minor details perhaps not truly important when grading fighters and their respective careers at the end of the day.
Nonetheless, it’s a tall mountain to climb for Thurman, if he truly intends to walk the same footprints traveled by his pugilistic predecessors.
“Manny Pacquiao fought Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao fought Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao fought ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, so sharing the ring with Manny Pacquiao is like sharing the ring with all of these legends of the past.”
— Sporting News Fights (@sn_fights) May 21, 2019
It’s more than just sharing the ring with a legend. The truly great fighters, want to supplant the other great fighter rivaling them across the corner, each and every fight. Many don’t want to shine amongst the other great stars, they want to shine brighter; shine the brightest.
Come July, spectators will see which star illuminates brightest. The verdict is already out on Pacquiao, but the world will see how great Thurman truly is and if he can catch and surpass the legends he is chasing.