By: Hans Themistode
Keith Thurman isn’t a fan of excuses. So when the former unified welterweight champion forked over his WBA title to Manny Pacquiao last year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, he simply gave Pacquiao his credit and vowed to bounce back even stronger.
For Thurman though, returning even stronger would entail a life that was relatively free from injuries. Yet over the past two years, Thurman has sat on the sidelines as his body consistently broke down. Punching an opponent in the face became impossible as he battled both hand and elbow issues after unifying titles with Danny Garcia in 2017.
While Thurman took one step back in 2017 and 2018 due to inactivity, he claimed to be ready for two steps forward against Pacquaio in 2019. The former champion assured everyone that he was as healthy as he had been in a long time. Fast forward one year later however, and Thurman is now pulling the curtains back on the physical issues he brought to the ring with him on that night.
“There were a lot of variables,” said Thurman on PepTalkUK. “The number one thing that I blame is my weight control. When it comes to self discipline, I failed at that. My hand was a little bit of an issue as well. I had to cut sparring short many times. My preparation and where I was at in my sparring, I was not happy. Normally I’m turning it up on my sparring partners but I was just not at a certain level. It was just a rough year for me, I can admit that. I just wasn’t 100 percent.”
Even with Thurman admitting that he was not fully prepared for Pacquiao on the night, their contest was razor close. The second half of their matchup was mostly dominated by the Florida native, but it was the first half and in particular the first round, where Thurman fell behind heavily on the scorecards.
Thurman exploded out of the gate as he landed hard shots with his man pinned against the ropes. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Thurman hit the deck, courtesy of a Pacquiao right hand. From there it was an uphill battle as most counted him out. The knockdown may have been devastating to Thurman’s chances of winning the contest, but he believes that was not the beginning of the end.
“The fight wasn’t lost in that first round,” explained Thurman. “The fight was lost somewhere around the tenth. I kinda saw the fight as a draw with two rounds to go and that’s where I lost the fight. I believe that if I would’ve pushed and convinced myself that I needed a knockdown that maybe it would’ve led to something other than a one point decision in his favor.”
Throughout the 25 year career of Pacquiao he has been known to give his opponents more than one attempt at dethroning him. And in the case of Juan Manuel Marquez, he was given four. As for Thurman, Pacquiao seems to be moving forward.
Sulking at a blown opportunity with no rematch in the immediate future isn’t on the mind of Thurman though. The welterweight division is regarded as one of the deepest in all of boxing, and as far as he is concerned, he has an endless reservoir of options.
“It’s really about what doors open up. I can fight Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia or Danny Garcia. I would be surprised if a fight with Errol Spence popped up right away but there is so many Opportunities.”