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Keith Thurman: “It’s Very Important For Me To Come Back Strong”

By: Sean Crose

Former welterweight titlist Keith Thurman has expressed frustration that Yordenis Ugas and Errol Spence are about to fight in a high profile pay per view welterweight title unification matchup this weekend while he has to sit the big fight out. “It’s frustrating,” the fighter known as “One Time” says on a Premiere Boxing Champions video, “because one of the only reasons why any of that has manifested is because Thurman has lost to Manny Pacquiao back in the summer of 2019. None of this would be able to manifest with a victory over Manny Pacquiao.”

Thurman goes on to explain how Spence-Ugas came to be. “Manny Pacquiao comes back and loses to Ugas,” he says. “Last minute replacement, but it wasn’t a good fight stylistically. Ugas is a very big welterweight. He had that long reach, he was a Cuban fighter stylistically. It wasn’t a good mathcup, but Manny wanted to put on a show like he always does for the fans.” This, of course, is true. Pacquiao was supposed to fight Spence last year rather than Ugas. Spence dropped out of the fight due to an eye injury, however, so in stepped Ugas, who proved to be too much for the aging Pacquiao to handle.

“But now Ugas is in a better position,” Thurman continues, “holding on to the WBA title that I once had, getting a fight with Spence, which should be my fight.” Although it might be easy to accuse Thurman of sour grapes here, it can be argued the Florida native doesn’t believe he should literally be fighting Saturday, only lamenting that he would have been fighting had Pacquiao not won the WBA title belt from him back in 2019.

“That’s why it’s very important for Thurman to come back this year,” Thurman says. “It’s very important for me to come back strong so that I can make a statement, so that with the belt, without the belt, I’m one of the greatest welterweights in the world today.” Few would claim that Thurman isn’t one of the top welterweights in the world, yet the veteran has taken long periods of time away from the sport for a variety of reasons, which – combined with the loss to Pacquiao – has led the spotlight to shine elsewhere. Thurman may indeed want the winner of this weekend’s Spence-Ugas battle, but there’s another opponent out there, one who also holds a world title bout, who many would love to see fight the winner – undefeated WBO champion Terence Crawford.  

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