By: Sean Crose
Keith “One Time” Thurman is perhaps the most self-injurious big name athlete in the fight game. After making his presence felt through a series of dominant performances in the twenty-teens, the Florida native began suffering injuries which have removed him from the boxing ring for considerable portions of time. And, as of Friday, it is clear that Thurman will once again have to take a forced hiatus from the ring. “I recently had surgery on my left hand to deal with a nagging injury,” Thurman tweeted. “I feel great and can’t wait to get back in the ring in early 2020. My injuries have been frustrating, but thanks to your support I’m determined to become a Champ again soon… #OneTime .”
Such announcements regarding Thurman, an extremely talented and skilled 30 year old former titlist, are unfortunately not uncommon. A 2016 bout with Shawn Porter was delayed for months because Thurman had gotten into a car accident. After besting Danny Garcia in 2017, Thurman needed surgery on his elbow. He didn’t re-enter the professional prize ring for almost two years afterwards. With that in mind, it’s difficult to ascertain how these combined days away from professional fighting have impacted Thurman’s ring performance. He was seriously hurt in a return bout against Josesito Lopez last January, though that may have had as much to do with ring rust – or an impressive performance from the veteran Lopez – than it did with Thurman’s time away from the ring.
As for Thurman’s last bout, against the legendary Manny Pacquiao last summer, the previously undefeated Thurman was completely overwhelmed and outclassed by the iconic Filipino. Although physical wear and tear may have had something to do with Thurman’s ability that night, it’s hard to imagine the fight going any other way than it did, so impressive was Pacquiao. With that in mind, Thurman told Yahoo Sports that he was dealing with an injured hand through his last two bouts. “It was there in the Josesito Lopez fight and it was there in the Pacquiao fight,” he said of his latest injury. “But as a world champion, I had to fight and that’s what I did. At the end of the day, there are no excuses, but I wasn’t at my best physically in either of them. I had to fight through it.”
The good news for Thurman fans is the fact that he intends to be back in boxing business by the early portion of next year. There’s a big difference, after all, between a seven or eight month layoff and a twelve to twenty month one. “The last thing I want,” Yahoo quotes him as saying, “is to stop here and now. I have a bright future and I’m in one of the best and most exciting divisions. That helps me keep my head up high and helps keep me motivated.” Even though he was bested by Pacquiao in clear fashion, Thurman truly remains one of the top fighters at welterweight, where names like Errol Spence Jr, or even Terence Crawford might conceivably await.