By Sean Crose
Keith Thurman hasn’t been in the ring since last April when he bested Julio Diaz. Truth be told, an injury has kept the hard hitting, exciting welterweight from entering the ring since. That doesn’t mean that one of boxing’s biggest up and comers is remaining quiet, however. Not only has Thurman made himself seen at events like the Shawn Porter-Kell Brook title fight, he’s been making his opinions known across the internet.
Take for instance Thurman’s recent claim that Chris Algieri has a chance against Manny Pacquiao when the two men battle in China late next autumn. That’s not a staggering statement in and of itself, but the fact remains few notable fighters or analysts are making it. Thurman feels comfortable enough to do so. And assertive enough.
The Algieri claim is nothing, however, compared to what Thurman has had to say about Floyd Mayweather. For, the man they call One Time reportedly told On The Ropes that “watching Floyd is 80% to 90% boring.” Whoa. When’s the last time you ever heard a fighter not scheduled to meet Mayweather in the ring utter something along those lines?
Yet that’s not all. Thurman also took the time to critique Mayweather’s last outing, a twelve round decision win over Marcos Maidana. “I was actually very disappointed with that last performance,” the twenty-five year old claimed, “which doesn’t make me that eager to see this performance.”
Call it hubris. Call it arrogance. Call it stupidity, even. The fact remains that Thurman, who hasn’t fought in nearly five months, is staying in the headlines. Truth be told, he has good reason to want to remain relevant while he recuperates.
For people like Algieri and Brook, men who were more or less unknown when Thurman had his last fight, are now title holders with potentially brilliant futures ahead of them. Thurman, meanwhile, has had to sit out on the sidelines while these other individuals have worked their way into the spotlight.
No doubt it’s a frustrating situation. “How many times did I ask to fight Robert Guerrero who was in the top ten?” Thurman is quoted as asking by Boxing News 24. “Earlier this year we asked to fight Shawn Porter,” he continued, “…Marcos Maidana was supposed to be my HBO debut, but he pulled out three weeks ahead of time.”
One might suspect, rightly or wrongly, that Thurman is in the same position that Gennady Golovkin now finds himself in, the one Sergey Kovalev was in not so long ago himself – that of a destroyer who other fighters are just plain afraid of.
“I want to test myself,” Boxing News 24 also quoted Thurman as saying. “and these ‘other guys’ want to make money, including Money Mayweather.” It’s clear Thurman has Money (as in Mayweather) on his mind quite a bit these days.
Is he truly calling the man out, however, or is Thurman simply complaining about his temporary lot in life? Either way, there are less productive things Thurman could be doing with his free time. Mayweather still has two fights to go on his insanely lucrative contract after he battles Maidana again. Why shouldn’t Thurman vie for the sweepstakes?
There once was a time when men like Thurman, dangerous, career altering men, could be avoided in boxing. Indeed, the history of the sport is littered with the deferred dreams of stars like Peter Jackson and Sam Langford. The bad old days – at least THOSE bad old days – are pretty much over now, however.
A fighter as good as Thurman will indeed get his chance – if not at a mega payday then at least at a legitimate title – so long as he keeps on winning. It’s good to keep in mind that Brook, the new IBF welterweight champion, had been in the #1 contender spot since 2012 before he finally got his big chance earlier this month.
Good things truly can come to those who wait. As Tom Petty says, however, “the waiting is the hardest part.”