By: Hans Themistode
Keith Thurman has multiple reputations. Not only is the 33-year-old a former unified welterweight champion and a pernicious power puncher, he’s also been known to have a certain weakness for blows to the midsection.
During his long-awaited return to the ring against former 140 pound secondary titlist Mario Barrios, Thurman’s kryptonite reared its ugly head. As the two spent much of their contest swinging away at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Thurman appeared to be in complete control.
The Florida native boxed when he elected to and banged when given no choice. But, with a statement making performance in the making, Thurman was forced to take a much-needed step back. Following seven mostly dominant rounds, Thurman appeared to be on his way to banking the eighth. However, with only a few minutes remaining in the frame, Barrios connected on a right hand to the midsection of his man.
Once Thurman felt the force of the blow, he immediately began back peddling and moved onto the ropes. In another instance, he removed his mouthpiece and breathed deeply for air.
Although it appeared as though Barrios would pull himself back into their contest, Thurman regained his composure and scored a wide unanimous decision victory. With the former unified star winning his first contest in well over three years, he was somewhat pleased with his performance. Nevertheless, as he thinks back to the eighth round, Thurman reveals that he knew an attack to his midsection was something he wanted to avoid at all costs.
“It was weird,” said Thurman to a group of reporters following his win over Barrios. “Backstage I was sitting down and I felt my body hurting with the cup. I was like, you ain’t gonna want to get touched there today boy. I felt tenderness before I was even touched tonight. I know everybody talks about me and body shots yada, yada, yada. Maybe my liver is a little sensitive. Body shots are just different.”
Throughout the career of Thurman, fans have seen him wince in pain when his foes attack him downstairs. During high-profile showdowns against Shawn Porter, Luis Collazo, and Manny Pacquiao – Thurman was in visible pain once they made a concerted effort to focus on his midsection.
Even with Barrios competing as a welterweight for the first time in his career, Thurman tips his cap as a sign of respect for his never-say-die attitude and the pop he showed in his punches. While the former titlist threw on his best poker face, he admits that if Barrios stood his ground and threw his body blow with just a bit more conviction, he would’ve been forced to take a knee.
“That one shot definitely awakened a little sensation, discomfort, and pain but it wasn’t the hardest that I’ve ever been hit. If he was able to step in a little bit more and dig a little bit deeper, he may have been able to put me down.”
Regardless of the eye-catching shot, Thurman boxed and brawled his way to a wide unanimous decision win. Still, in spite of the victory, Thurman is well aware that the boxing world will continue to point to his seemingly tender midsection as a clear avenue to defeating him.
Those thoughts, however, are meaningless to the Florida product. While he has hit the deck on two occasions, once against Pacquiao in 2019 and another in 2010 against Quandray Robertson – Thurman points out that neither of those instances came as a result of a body shot. So, even with many in boxing circles pointing to his body and claiming that it’s a weakness, Thurman smiles as he begs to differ.
“A lot of people who land a good body shot almost put me down but look, they still haven’t put me down bro.”
Send this to a friend