The Perfect Opportunity: Keith Thurman vs. Kell Brook?
By: Kirk Jackson
Exiting the scorching months of the summer and entering the fall, the recent talk of significant welterweight match-ups in the making, features the combination of talents ranging from current WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s), former unified WBC and WBA welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-1, 22 KO’s) and former IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook (39-2, 27 KO’s), also known as “Special K” or simply “The Special One.”
As of last Friday, there are talks or at least the beginning stages of negotiation between Crawford and Brook. Reportedly, an offer of 1.5 million was offered to Team Brook, for a fight against Crawford to take place at some point later in year.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn recently revealed he’s aligning Brook to face the three-division champion Crawford.
“I had a couple of conversations with Bob Arum and Top Rank VP of operations, Carl Moretti yesterday. And I feel that’s a big fight for UK TV, so we’re trying to help out and get that over the line,” Hearn told IFL TV.
“I would love to see Kell get that fight. I think Top Rank had a conversation with Keith Thurman and obviously they wanted too much money. It’s difficult at the moment. Crawford wants a lot of money and Kell wants a lot of money. He deserves it. We’re trying to make that fight happen to assist Top Rank in getting the numbers together.”
But preceding this negotiation, were talks of Crawford potentially facing Thurman. Prior to that, there were discussions of Thurman facing Brook.
“Thurman’s people got in touch with me, but they’re out to lunch,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com. “They have such crazy expectations that just don’t exist anymore. Their money demands are crazy. They said they were free agents, which I’m sure they are. But again, who’s gonna pay what they’re looking for?”
However, Arum didn’t disclose the dollar amount Thurman’s representative requested, nor identify who contacted him on Thurman’s behalf. Thurman in recent interviews talked about potentially facing Crawford in the near future, but never mentioned a price tag.
Thurman is likely to return and headline a FOX broadcast later this year in December, albeit his opponent has yet to be determined.
Crawford for his part, spoke on the potential fight with Thurman in a recent interview.
“You don’t know what you want to do,” said Crawford. “Because if a contract was sent to Keith Thurman, he would find a way out. So, stop playing with my name. You’re a guy who just cries wolf.”
Thurman’s retort however, conveys the opposite of what Arum and Crawford insinuate about Thurman regarding a potential showdown between the pair.
“Right now, I want [Terence] Crawford more now, man,” Thurman stated. “He got under my skin. Errol [Spence]? That’s a timeline issue. I know how the game works. We got the same manager. That’s a timeline issue. This Crawford dude? Send a contract, bro. Tell ESPN to send some zeroes my way. They know an appropriate number. I sign on the dotted line.”
“Don’t act like I run from you. You never got respect in the game anyway at 147. You ain’t pushed the buttons at 147. You ain’t touched Shawn Porter. You ain’t touched Thurman. You ain’t touched [Danny] Garcia. You ain’t touched Spence. I’m gonna run out of fingers! I can name all my opponents you ain’t touched. I’m gonna run out of fingers, boy! Stop it, just stop it!”
Question is, why can’t Arum and company negotiate a price tag with Thurman, if the demand is that high? Negotiate with Team Thurman, like the negotiations that took place with Team Amir Khan last year.
Unless of course, a fight against Thurman is not what Arum and company truly want. Arum and Crawford for that matter, have their sights set on current WBA champion Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO’s). But with representation on behalf of Pacquiao mentioning he’ll be on the shelf for the duration of 2020, “Bud” has to set his sights elsewhere.
However within this current welterweight mix-up, exists a pairing that makes perfect sense for each participant.
Focusing on that pairing; featuring Thurman versus Brook, makes the most sense for both fighters.
For Brook, his last three opponents since losing his IBF welterweight title to Errol Spence Jr. in May 2017, are Sergey Rabchenko, Michael Zerafa in March and December of 2018 respectively, along with Mark DeLuca in February of this year.
Nice string of comeback fights to work out the ring rust, to build confidence and tread towards the path back to the top again.
Brook is searching for that signature fight and payday before calling it quits on a pretty solid career. As mentioned in his interview with IFL TV, he wants either Thurman or Crawford and the former unified WBA and WBC champion provide Brook with what he is seeking.
Expanding on the signature fight, and more importantly the signature win aspect, Brook’s biggest fights to date were against Shawn Porter, Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence. After securing victory in a close fight against Porter to win his world title, Brook suffered technical knockout defeats against Golovkin (In a bid for middleweight world titles) and Spence (Losing his IBF world title).
Brook has staked claim in wanting more. He wants to be known for something greater and if that’s the case, he will chase another signature win against another high-level opponent.
“Making 147 (lbs.) is something Terence [Crawford] and all these American fighters seem to love to ask me to do when it’s put on their toes: ‘Would you fight Kell Brook?’ Tell Kell Brook to make weight,’” Brook said. “It’s fine though. It shows me they respect my ability and take some sort of comfort from convincing themselves it might not happen.”
“I boxed in February. I’ve been ticking over during lockdown and I’m back in the boxing gym training. By the fall time, I’ll be more than ready, I will make the weight. Then I’ll make the wait worthwhile!”
Concentrating on Thurman, who commands strong standing and a high measure of star power amongst his contemporaries. For Thurman, suffering defeat in a closely contested championship bout against a future Hall of Famer doesn’t lower his stock. Especially considering he was exhilarating in defeat.
Any fight featuring Thurman will be on network television like FOX and will be a headliner event. Meaning, there will be a ton of promotion, high viewership and great revenue earning opportunities. If Brook is to secure a bout with Thurman and emerge victorious, that places him in great position for an even bigger fight.
It’s important to state, a hypothetical victory for Brook over Thurman would also be his biggest win to date. Due to certain variables, the fight against Thurman may be Brook’s best chance for a win against high-level and highly acclaimed opposition.
One of those variables, is Thurman’s history of injuries. Dating back to July of 2015, Thurman has only competed five times. But like “One Time,” “The Special One” has his history of unfortunate injuries.
According to his own testimony, Thurman was injured in most of his recent fights. The mental aspect of recovery and rehabilitation is a battle in itself, a battle Brook shares.
“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.”
What would be the incentive for Thurman to fight Brook?
Brook is a name, a former champion and a fighter with a following. Brook has the support of the United Kingdom. They have interesting styles, contrasting styles but share many traits in common. It can be argued both are entering the back-end of their professional careers and plotting for pivotal standing in a loaded division at welterweight.
Based on the quote from Thurman, Brook represents what he is seeking. They both bring great intangibles to the table and can mutually benefit from facing one another.
Fans and critics alike question if Thurman still has it and wonder if he can return to the same form that he had when capturing the WBC and WBA welterweight titles? What better way to begin his comeback trail than against a fighter in a similar position?
Another facet to consider, a common link the two share is Errol Spence. Many observers believe Thurman visibly ducked Spence for several years, while Brook was the first active champion at the time, to provide Spence an opportunity for the world title, as Spence worked his way up to mandatory challenger. Thurman in fact told Spence to acquire a world title or two first, before he would grant that opportunity.
In recent months, Thurman claimed desires of wanting to fight Spence, while Brook has maintained his yearning for a rematch ever since losing to the Texan back in 2017. If Thurman faces and defeats Brook, that may place him in position for Spence, as they’ll then share another common opponent. For Brook of course, if he were to win the hypothetical, keeps him in the sweepstakes for a rematch.
An added benefit for “One Time” by facing Brook, is he keeps other unfavorable options on the back burner.
Thurman is a highly sought out target and may find himself fighting off a bevy of would be challengers. The aforementioned Spence was always a name pursing a clash against Thurman, Porter is seeking the rematch and Garcia stated he would like a rematch at some point as well. The Clearwater native may not be ready for those bouts when he returns in December.
There is also a crop of young talent, itching at the opportunity to get a crack at Thurman. Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KO’s), who fights September 19 and Vergil Ortiz (16-0 16 KO’s), fresh off his victory last month over veteran Samuel Vargas.
While Thurman would be favored in any of those match-ups, or even in other bouts against Yordenis Ugas, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Jessie Vargas, Sergey Lipnets, Ray Robinson, etc., the risk may not warrant the potential reward. Especially if the end goal is to get the rematch against Pacquiao, or the eventual fight against Spence. Adrien Broner and Mikey Garcia would be exceptions to that rule.
For Thurman, especially if he secures the December date, not only prolongs talks of bouts against any of the aforementioned fighters, but a win and spectacular victory at that (Hopefully injury-free) over Brook leaves him with an opportunity for a larger scale fight against some of the bigger names once the welterweight schedule clears up.
Much is at stake for Thurman and Brook, but each fighter has the opportunity to make the best of this proposed scenario and this is a great opportunity for both parties.
Will it still be KO’s for life and are chocolate brownies on the menu?