Tag Archives: thurman

Will the Real Welterweight Champion Please Stand Up


By: Ken Hissner

The Welterweight division is known to possibly be the most competitive with their five world champions. Hopefully in the near future they will fight one another to see who the “Real World Welterweight Champion Is”.

The most well- known is southpaw Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, 61-7-2 (39), of General Santos City, PH, who won his first world title back in December of 1998 though behind on points going into the eighth round. In that eighth round he knocked out Chatchai Sasakul, 32-1-1, of TH at the Tonsuk College Ground, Phuttamonthon, in TH, for the WBC World Flyweight Title.

“Pac Man” is a six division world champion. In his last defense of his WBA World Title he defeated former champ Adrien “The Problem” Broner, 33-3-1, at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV, in January.
Keith “One Time” Thurman, 29-0 (22), defended his WBA Super World Title in January winning a majority decision over Josesito Lopez, 36-7, at the Barclay Center, Brooklyn, NY. It was his first fight since March of 2017 when he won a unification bout over WBC champ Danny “Swift” Garcia, 33-0, at the Barclay Center but had the WBC vacated due to the layoff.

“One Time” defeated current WBC World Champ Shawn “Showtime” Porter, in June of 2016, at the Barclay Center. “Showtime” is now 30-2-1 (17), having won a split decision over Yordenis Ugas, 23-3, this past weekend in Carson, CA. This writer felt Porter won 120-108. There is no reason for a rematch. Since losing to “One Time” he has won four straight bouts and the WBC Title from Garcia in September of 2018, at the Barclay Center.

This Saturday the IBF World champion Errol “The Truth” Spence, Jr. 24-0 (21), of Desoto, TX, will defend his title against WBC World Lightweight champ Mikey Garcia, 39-0 (30), at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX. In “The Truth’s” last bout he knocked out Carlos Ocampo, 22-0, of MEX, in the first round in Frisco, TX. Garcia last fought in July of 2018 defeating Robert Easter, Jr., 24-0, at the Staples Center, in L.A.
The WBO World champ is 3-division world champion Terence “Bud” Crawford, 34-0 (25), of Omaha, NEB. He has an upcoming defense against former world champ Amir Kahn, 33-4, at Madison Square Garden, NYC, on April 20th. In “Bud’s” last fight he stopped Jose Benavidez, Jr., 27-0, in Omaha, in the twelfth and final round.

The five world champions do not have a unification bout scheduled at this time. Only Spence and Crawford have scheduled bouts. Crawford is promoted by Top Rank, Spence and Thurman by Golden Boy, Pacquiao by his own MP Promotions and Porter by TGB in his recent fight.

Most boxing authorities would probably say Crawford is the best. Thurman has proven to be the best prior to his layoff by many. Never bet against Pacquiao, and Spence is the future if he gets by Garcia. Porter is a long shot being the best but you never know.

Who do you think is the best welterweight Champ in the World?

More Columns

Should Keith Thurman vs. Manny Pacquiao Be Next?


By: Hans Themistode

Both Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) and Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) made back to back ring returns in consecutive weeks with both fighters coming away with the victory. Pacquiao easily outpointed Adrien Broner while Thurman on the other hand took home the victory against a resurgent Josesito Lopez.

They both came out on the winning side but they also seem to be on the opposite side of the spectrum in terms of their careers. Pacquiao is 40 years old and although he is still an excellent fighter he is no longer the force that he once was. Thurman on the other hand is 30 years of age and should be in the prime of his career.

Thurman of course came back from a 22 month layoff after elbow surgery and a hand injury shortly after. For a man coming off such a long time out of the ring he looked like he hadn’t missed much time. Sure he had a very shaky seventh round where it looked like Lopez was on his way to pulling off one of the biggest upsets in recent memories but outside of that one forgettable round Thurman dominated the fight. In his post fight press conference he made it very clear that he would love a fight with the hall of fame boxer turned senator Manny Pacquiao.

For years and years fans would have loved to see Pacquiao matchup with the young elite fighters that were associated with the PBC. Unfortunately the politics of boxing stopped many of those matches. Fans had to settle with Manny fighting the same fighters over and over again. Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez fought Manny a combined seven times in his career. Both Bradley and Marquez are first ballot hall of famers but fans wanted a bit more variety. Now that Manny is on the PBC side of the street he has an entirely new stable of fighters to test himself against.

A matchup with Thurman is tantalizing. They both of course hold WBA titles (the fact that they both hold WBA titles in the same division is mind boggling in itself.) they both also hold major drawing power. Thurmans bout against Lopez pulled in over two million viewers on Fox while it’s reported that Manny managed to get over 400,000 pay per view buys for his fight against Broner in a day and age where that model was thought to be dead and gone.

At this very moment the odds on a matchup between the two would quite possibly see Manny as the betting favorite. It’s understandable, Thurman just doesn’t seem to be Thurman. Yet. We seen him get hit with shots that we aren’t accustomed to seeing. We also seen him land punishing blows that would normally take his man out. Thurman isn’t quite at his best. Yet.

With that being said. Like him, love him or hate him but you must respect his talent. He is still the man to beat in the division until further notice.

A matchup between these two would mean much more than just a great fan friendly fight. On one side of the ring is Manny Pacquiao. A first ballot hall of famer who represents the old school. A time when Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and several others controlled the headlines. On the other side of the ring is Keith Thurman who represents the new age in boxing. Thurman, Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford along with several others who are trying to establish their own legacy.

In a career filled with an unprecedented amount of achievements a victory over Thurman for Pacquiao would register as one of his biggest wins. Pacquiao’s career began over 20 years ago. To record a win over one of the best Welterweights today would be unthinkable. For Thurman he could establish himself as possibly the best of his era if he could not only get in the ring with Pacquiao but defeat him as well.

A fight between Thurman and Pacquiao is one that has to happen but is it time for it to happen now? Absolutely.

More Columns

Is Keith “One-Time” Thurman on Borrowed Time?


By: Kirk Jackson

Keith “One-Time” Thurman 29-0 (22 KO’s) successfully defended his WBA super welterweight belt via majority decision over Josesito “Riverside Rocky” Lopez 36-8 (19 KO’s) after almost two years on the sidelines.

Taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Thurman returned to the ring for the first time since beating two-division champion Danny Garcia in a unification bout in March 2017. Since earning victory via split decision, elbow and hand injuries kept the Thurman from competition.

Although “One-Time” emerged victorious in his 12 round defense of the Super WBA welterweight title against Lopez, he endured problematic moments from the rugged challenger.

“He had me buzzed, he had me shaken up,” Thurman admitted. “I was trying to stay on the outside. I just was a little off in my prediction of his long arms and the way that he was lunging in, willing to really swing and commit for the knockout. He was coming for me.”

“Lopez had a tough head but we held out strong. I said you wouldn’t see the best Keith Thurman tonight, but you’d still see a world class performance, and I gave you that tonight.”

While the most important aspect is securing victory by any means, Thurman did not resemble a prime version of himself. This equation includes a mixture of different variables and Lopez should be credited for his efforts of attempting to snatch Thurman’s coveted undefeated mark. But with this recent representation of Thurman, the question begs is he on borrowed time?

Entering the bout off a 22 month layoff, rust was to be expected. Although Lopez was selected as a tune-up, he is an extremely tough if not undersized competitor at welterweight. The trainer of Lopez, Robert Garcia, is one of the best trainers in the world and if we consider the variables, the result is not shocking.
The scores of 115-111, 117-109 and 113-113 in favor of Thurman were shocking. Although Thurman clearly won the fight and was expected to dominate upon his return, the wide margin of one of the scores does not truly reflect the story of this encounter.

Injuries and rust aside, Thurman is firmly planted as one of the key figures in boxing’s glamour division. With a re-emerging Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao 61-7-2 (39 KO’s) serving as subsidiary to Thurman’s Super WBA welterweight title, a bout between the two may be an option for Thurman in the near future.

“I feel good. That was a beautiful fight. I would most likely definitely take the Manny Pacquiao fight this year,” said Thurman. “Maybe Brooklyn, maybe Vegas, wherever Manny Pacquiao wants it. I’d even fight him in the Philippines if I have to. Either way, I will be back later this year. Believe that.”

As intriguing as a bout against Pacquiao sounds, a match-up against either one, if not both of his same-generation contemporaries, appears as a recipe for blockbuster success and acclaim amongst the fans and reporters of the sport.

The two elephants in the room are none other than IBF welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence 24-0 (21 KO’s) and WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford 34-0 (25 KO’s).

Speaking of his contemporaries leading into his fight against Lopez, Thurman had this to say:

“Keith Thurman No. 1, Errol Spence No. 2 and everything else is debatable,” Thurman informed reporters after a pre-fight press conference. “I’ve said it many, many, many times, I don’t give ‘Bud’ Crawford any credit at 147 yet. He hasn’t gotten any credentials off of me.”

Ideally, the obstacles preventing these highly desired match-ups from manifesting can be wedged at the appropriate time (sooner rather than later).

Thurman mentioned recapturing his WBC title – which means he’ll be in pursuit of the winner between Shawn “Showtime” Porter 29-2-1 (17 KO’s) and Yordenis Ugas 23-3 (11 KO’s).

While pursuing unification with the WBC, that places unification of the IBF and WBO titles and most importantly, bouts between Thurman and Crawford or Thurman and Spence on the back-burner.

As we progress through 2019 for Thurman’s sake, it would be nice to see him return to form and to witness more activity from a healthy fighter. Which equates to more matches and against top level opposition being as he is a world champion.

As Thurman resumes this phase of his career as champion, and now has greater understanding as to what it means to be the hunted, with a huge target on his back, is he on borrowed time?

More Columns

PBC on Fox Results: Thurman Defeats Game Lopez, Kownacki and Nyambayar Win


By: William Holmes

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York was the host site of tonight’s Premier Boxing Champions Card on Fox with three scheduled fights.

The untelevised undercard included a shocking knockout of Marsellos Wilder, the brother of Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder, to William Deets.

The first bout of the night was between Claudio Marrero (23-2) and Tugstsogt Nyambayar (10-0) in the featherweight division.

This bout was a WBC Featherweight Title eliminator. Nyambayar, a fighter from Mongolia, had a small but boisterous contingent in the crowd. Nyambayar goes by the nickname of King Tug.

King Tug had a southpaw across from him, but he was able to land some good crosses to the body and quick combinations early.

Marrero showed a good jab in the second round and connected with some straight lefts in the third, but King Tug landed the cleaner and harder punches, and had Marrero wobbly in the thirdrom a good straight right hand and he followed that with some heavy combinations in the fourth.

King Tug’s accuracy was just better in the fifth and both punches landed some good shots in the sixth round, and Tug looked like a mouse was forming under his left eye.

Marrero had a strong seventh and eight rounds as Tug wasn’t as aggressive as in previous rounds and Marrero was landing his right hooks. The ninth round could have been scored either way, and the tenth was also close but Marrero lost a point for landing a punch during the break.

The eleventh round featured combinations from both fighters who let their hands go, but King Tug looked like he landed the better shots. Marrero came out very aggressively in the final round and may have landed some punches in the back of the head before the referee quickly broke them up. Marrero was fighting as if he knew he needed a knockout to win but that knockout never came.
The final scores were 114-113, 115-112, and 116-111 for Tugstogt Nyambayar.

The co-main event of the night was between Adam Kownacki (18-0) and Gerald Washington (19-2-1) in the heavyweight division.

Kownacki had a softer appearance in muscle tone when compares to Washington, but he didn’t appear to be intimated by Washington’s physique as he came at him right away and landed a good right hand followed by a short left hook. Washington was able to land some shots of his own in return, but Kownacki kept up the pressure and a good pace and was beating up Washington in the opening round. Kownacki did have a cut near his eye by the end of the round.

Washington came out aggressively at the start of the second round and landed some good punches, but Kownacki took them well and landed a body shot that quickly slowed the momentum of Washington. A straight right hand from Kownacki knocked Washington down who struggled to get up before the count of ten. The referee allowed him to continue, but two more hard shots from Kownacki forced the referee to step in and stop the fight.

Adam Kownacki wins with an impressive knockout at 1:09 of the second round.

The main event of the night was between Keith Thurman (28-0) and Josesito Lopez (36-7) for the WBA World Welterweight Title.

Thurman was sharp with his counters early on as Lopez pressed the pace and was warned for a low blow early on. Thurman was able to show good in and out movement in the second round and was able to knock Lopez down with a short left hook. Lopez got up by the count of eight and was able to survive the round.

Thurman’s accuracy and movement won him most of the middle rounds, but Lopez remained game and took some of Thurman’s best shots well. Lopez had Thurman’s back against the ropes during the sixth round and was sneaking some punches in, but he really turned the tide in the seventh round.

In the seventh Lopez looked close to knocking Thurman down early in from hard left hooks and was battering him from corner to corner. Thurman was fighting to survive the seventh but looked recovered and well by the eight round.

Thurman landed some heavy shots in the eighth round, but Lopez took those shots well and stayed moving forward applying pressure.

Both boxers landed heavy blows in the ninth round and showed a tremendous chin and a willingness to exchange punches.

Thurman stuck to trying to out box Lopez in the tenth and eleventh round on the ever charging Lopez, and he likely won those rounds despite Lopez being able to sneak in some good shots.

The final scores were 113-113, 115-111, and 117-109 for Keith Thurman.

More Headlines

PBC on Fox Preview: Thurman vs. Lopez, Washington vs. Kownacki


By: Oliver McManus

Keith Thurman will make his much awaited return to the ring this weekend, as part of PBC on Fox, following extensive injuries to his hand and elbow. 22 months on from a split decision victory over Danny Garcia and Thurman will defend his WBA ‘Super’ Welterweight Championship against Josesito Lopez (36-7).

The welterweight scene, of course, has changed vastly since Thurman’s last bout with the emergence of Errol Spence Jr, Manny Pacquiao’s Indian summer coming to fruition and, indeed, Terence Crawford moving up in weight class. All three pose very real threats to Thurman’s WBA supremacy but One Time will be looking to brush off the cobwebs and establish himself at the top of the division.

At the Barclays Center, this Saturday, it will be a solid indication of how Thurman has responded to injury rehabilitation and what, if any, impact it has had on him as a fighter. A former unified champion, of course, the 31 year old has been in and around the world level for just over six years. It’s been a while – not just in terms of time – since we’ve seen a vintage Thurman performance, however, but he still shunted himself towards pound-for-pound contention.

Openly targeting a fight with Manny Pacquiao, that fight looks likely to happen given the Filipino’s secondary title status but the prospect of the contest remains enticing. Against Josesito, on paper, Thurman should have a relatively easy body of work – you could expect no less after such a lengthy lay-off.

Josesito Lopez isn’t just a name on paper, however, with The Riverside Rocky having been in the ring with Saul Alvarez, Marcos Maidana and Andre Berto – stopped on all three occasions, mind. With three fights since April 2015, the same number as Thurman, the Californian welterweight hasn’t exactly been the most active over recent years. Seen, throughout time, as a decent yardstick for bigger names looking to get a good performance under their belt, Lopez comes out of the blocks fast continuously before fading around the halfway mark.

Seven years on since his latest victory of note – a surprise win over Victor Ortiz – it has to be said that Lopez is likely to pose little in way of threat to Thurman’s 28-fight unbeaten record. Thurman is expected to come through the contest and look good in doing so but any slip-up from the Clearwater-boxer could be exposed on a large scale by his opponent – don’t put your money on an upset victory, though.

The big bruisers on the undercard come by way of San Jose, California and Lomza, Poland as Gerald Washington and Adam Kownacki look to settle a score with their contest scheduled for 10 rounds. Polish born, Brooklyn resident, Kownacki will enter the ring as a betting favourite and boasting a record of 18 and 0 whilst Washington, a marginal underdog, looks to put himself in the frame for another world title shot.

Having challenged for Deontay Wilder’s WBC Championship in February 2017, Washington’s return saw him retire from a contest with Jarrell Miller before, in his only contest of last year, the 36 year old laboured to a victory over John Wesley Nofire. I use the word ‘laboured’ because whilst the win was routine and, to be frank, easy, Washington didn’t pack the explosive punch power of past performances.

Kownacki, on the other hand, has finished fights with Joshua Tufte, Artur Szpilka and Iago Kiladze in comprehensive fashion – all since 2017 – whilst his last contest against Charles Martin saw the two fighters push each-other in a 50/50 contest. Famed for his tendency to keep his hands down low and march forward, Kownacki takes a fair few punches on his way to victory but, thus far, victory has always been his.

Definitively a step up in class for Kownacki – ranked 5th the IBF and 8th with the WBC – he’ll need to be far more defensively orientated if he is to come through unscathed. Washington, despite his age, has the instinct not to allow such a lapse in technicality go untested. One thing you can guarantee from this fight is an utter slugfest.

Make no mistake though, all eyes are on the returning welterweight with Keith Thurman, the man that’s been left behind, seeking to cast aside any doubts about his recovery.

More Headlines

Thurman “Focused On Getting Better And Much Stronger With Each Fight”


By: Sean Crose

“It was a little bit of a slow start after so many months out of the ring,” says Keith Thurman of training camp, “but I’m feeling great as we get closer to the fight. I’m starting to feel more and more like a world-class athlete again. It’s a good feeling working this hard and it reminds me what it’ll take to continue being the champion.” After close to two years out of the ring, the 28-0 Thurman will be returning this Saturday to face the 36-7-0 Josesito Lopez at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York. The card will start airing live at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time as part of the PBC on Fox and Fox Deportes.

“I don’t think ring rust will be an issue,” the Florida based Thurman says. “The only thing that even if this may not be the best Keith Thurman that people have ever seen, we’re focused on getting better and much stronger with each fight. But make no mistake, people will see one of the best welterweights in the world on January 26 at Barclays Center.” Thurman, who has been healing from an injury, actually gave up his WBC welterweight title, though he still holds the major WBA welterweight strap, which he will be defending against Lopez on Saturday.

In truth, there has been a concern about the injury prone Thurman’s time away from the ring, something the undefeated fighter doesn’t make light of. “You always have to be a little worried about new injuries,” says Thurman. “There’s nothing wrong with your car until the day it decides to break down. So at the end of the day, it’s always in the back of my mind. I run a lot of miles, so I wonder about my knees. I wonder about my shoulders also. Athletes and their bodies go through a lot of things. But here I go getting right back into things and I’m totally ready to showcase my talents on January 26.”

As for Lopez, the engaging Thurman refuses to overlookthe veteran of 43 fights. “Josesito,” he says, “is experienced. He’s a busy fighter with good reach. He likes to mix it up and force his opponents to fight. He also has a new coach in Robert Garcia now, and I know he has a lot of confidence in his abilities. Josesito has been through ups and downs in his career, but he’s back on an upswing at the moment. Then he pinpointed me and called me out. So I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Thurman, who has knocked out over three quarters of his opponents, wants to show on Saturday that there’s more to him than just power punching. “”I’m going to show my versatility in the ring,” he says. “I’m going to show Josesito what it’s like to be in the ring with me. He might think it’s just all about my power, but I’ll show him what none of his sparring partners could. I’m going to show everyone the full package of skills I bring and enjoy every second of it.”

More Headlines

Keith Thurman Plans To “Make A Statement” Against Lopez


By: Sean Crose

“I feel great physically,” says Keith Thurman. “We’re working really hard and just getting back into everything we did before the injury. It feels tremendous and I’m so happy to be able to do this back in Brooklyn. January 26, you will see the return of the number one welterweight in the world” Thurman, of course, is talking about his upcoming bout against well known vet Josesito Lopez at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, in a PBC match that will be aired live on Fox. Thurman, who hasn’t fought since he defeated Danny Garcia via split decision in March 2017, will be defending his WBA super world welterweight title.

“I need to come back and stay active and healthy,” the 28-0, frequently injured fighter says. “I’m going to remind everyone this year why I’m one of the baddest men on the planet. At the end of the day, I’m here to make a statement that ‘One Time’ is back.” With fighters such as Errol Spence, Bud Crawford, Manny Pacquiao, and Shawn Porter occupying the welterweight division, Thurman is eager to reassert himself. “My legacy is not over,” he says. “Unification against Danny Garcia was not enough for me. Ultimately, I’m just waiting to be presented with a man who is better than me. There might not be one, but I’m not afraid to let my ‘0’ go.”

Lopez, 36-7, a well regarded warrior, would be happy to oblige Thurman by giving him his first loss. “I’ve been in this position before,” says Lopez, “and I’ve never shied away from big battles. This is another big one and I’m going to be ready for it and become world champion.” Thurman certainly won’t be the first big name Lopez has faced, for Lopez has also shared the ring with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Andre Berto, Marcos Maidana, Jessie Vargas, and Victor Ortiz. “I’m sure Keith Thurman is as strong and skilled as anyone I’ve ever faced, Lopez says. “He’s undefeated for a reason. I give him his respect for that. I’m preparing for him to be the best fighter I’ve ever faced.”

Lopez certainly isn’t letting Thurman’s time out of the ring impact his mental and physical preparation for the fight. “No matter how active Thurman has been,” he says, “the importance of this opportunity doesn’t change. If anything we might see a better and healthier Keith Thurman than we’ve seen in years. I’m expecting the best Keith Thurman there is.”

More Headlines

Terence Crawford: Only Wants the Champions at 147


By: Rich Mancuso

Undefeated Jose Benavidez Jr. is the next opponent for Terence Crawford next Saturday evening at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford, the three-division world champion, will defend his WBO Welterweight title for the second time. But this is not the opponent he wants in a fight that will be televised on the ESPN platforms.

Don’t get this wrong. Crawford, not one to stir the pot, is honored that Benavidez took this fight. And the home crowd will be thrilled to see their champion again. Many consider him to be either number one or two in the pound-for-pound discussion.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Not to overlook Benavidez, Crawford is very content with the promotional deal he has with Top Rank. However, in a Thursday afternoon conference call with media the names of champions such as Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Errol Spence Jr. came into the discussion. These are some of the elite fighters in the 147-pound division along with some others.

The welterweight division is the talk of boxing. Spence Jr. is known as the elite champion and always a target. With that in mind, where does Terence Crawford stand in the mix of all this? He is with Top Rank, the others with PBC and their platforms of Showtime and Fox.

“Spence, Porter, Thurman, those are the only champions,” Crawford said. “ I don’t look at the WBC Silver interim belts . I look at the actual champion in the division.”

So this is a matter, first of Crawford getting past Benavidez Jr. and then the talk about a mega fight with Spence Jr. who holds the IBF title. The issue is logistics with two major platforms of promoters and networks putting their differences aside and giving fight fans what they want.

Crawford has Top Rank in the corner. The ESPN deal with his promoter is strong and delivering what boxing fans and the sport desire. The Crawford camp is content but as everyone is aware, this is a business.

The talk has to be done at the table, and very similar to the deal that was made when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. got in the ring three years ago. Brian McIntyre, manager and trainer for Crawford wants the elite fights to be made. He made his case on the conference call.

“We want after the champions, man,” McIntyre said. “There is no reason to be fighting a No. 6 dude or a No. 7 dude. Terence wants the best fighters out there at 147.”

Top Rank president Todd duBoef was also on the conference call. McIntyre is seeking the best for his fighter and said the heat is on with Top Rank and all for the best involved.

“We’ll put the heat on him,” he said. He’s the one who makes the fights happen. He could go to ESPN and make those fights happen. Terence wants the fights to happen. Let’s go. The only fights out there is the other champions.”

They don’t want a number 7 or 8 fighter in the division, because this is about the elite fighters at 147.

To that, duBoef said, “We have said this regardless of your affiliation, we don’t care what you are ,what you do, Terence is an elite fighter. in fact elite fight, all they talk is about Terence. “We’ve done the biggest fights with all the complications. We’ve done the biggest with no complications”

But there are always complications. Venues, purse, and how two networks that are in competition can co-exist. A response from the PBC was unavailable when reached for comment.

“We’re gonna go after all those guys,” duBoef said. “We’re not allowing anything, no politics, no nothing, to get in the way. They wanna do it, we wanna do it, let’s just get it done. We’ll figure out a solution.”

Crawford, on the other hand, avoids this discussion about fighting the elite champions. He is focused on this fight next weekend and when it comes to consideration about being the Number 1 pound-for-pound, he just goes about his business. He wants to take on opponents and bypass the talk of Top 10 fighter or who is Number 1 or 2.

“Some people rate me number 1 some people rate me number 2,” Crawford said. “I can’t complain some people rate me number 2. Don’t pay attention. My main attention is Benavidez. I’m focused and ready to go next week. Keep winning in tremendous fashion.”

He added: “ I never predict a knockout. I just go in there if I see a chance for a knockout I’ll go for it. All i do is go in there and get the win. I believe he is going to come out and try and make it a fight and if he does do it we have a game plan for that as well.

However, this could be the tune-up fight towards the next one. There is time for the respective promotions and networks to stage an eventual Crawford and Spence Jr. title fight.

“Still growing up in this division,” Crawford said. “Not looking to move up. Great relationship with Top Rank. We build a lot of great memories together and built me up to where I am now. Takes me wherever I want to go.”

Benavidez Jr. sought this fight and there was no hesitation. Because Terence Crawford never ducks an opponent, and in boxing you take the opportunity as there is always a chance to pull off the unexpected. And by all means, the height and reach is something to look at with that undefeated record coming in against the champion.

But we all know, this fight is all about Terence Crawford. It’s about getting to the elite and opposing Errol Spence Jr. and soon.

Comment: Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso [email protected]

More Headlines

Boxing Insider Notebook: Thurman, Barrera, Magdaleno, Russell, Diaz, Stevenson, and more…


Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of April 17th to April 24th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Injury Rehabilitation Forces Keith Thurman to Relinquish WBC Belt

Unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman has voluntarily relinquished his WBC title while he recovers from the effects of elbow surgery last year and a hand injury he suffered in training camp last month.
After speaking with WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman recently, Thurman decided that he would relinquish the title and open the way for former champions Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, the two leading contenders for the WBC title, to fight each other for the championship while Thurman made a full recovery from his injuries.

“Due to my rehabilitation from my injuries, I agreed to relinquish my WBC title at this time. I continue to rehab my hand and elbow and I look forward to getting back in the ring this summer. This is a temporary setback and I will be the unified champion once again and look forward to winning back my WBC title as soon as possible,” said Thurman.

“Keith Thurman unfortunately has suffered two consecutive injuries that have kept him out of the ring after his sensational victory over Danny Garcia and he has graciously relinquished his title, and the WBC has mandated that Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter will fight for the title,” said Mauricio Sulaiman. “Keith will have a direct path to fight for the title once he has healed just as Vitali Klitshcko and other WBC champions have done in the past. Keith is a tremendous athlete, champion and role model. The WBC will support him completely during this difficult time. ”

Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs), a former unified champion at 140 pounds and the former WBC welterweight champion, lost the WBC title to Thurman by 12-round split decision in 2017. He bounced back with a knockout victory over former champion Brandon Rios in February. The WBC had made that fight a title elimination match, which put Garcia in line to fight Thurman again for the title.

Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs), a former welterweight champion, lost a close 12-round decision to Thurman in 2016. He became the mandatory challenger for the WBC title when he knocked out Andre Berto last year. He maintained his status with a 12-round decision over Adrian Granados in November.

The 29-year-old Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) has been plagued by a string of injuries the last two years.
Thurman injured his neck in a car accident in February 2016, which delayed his match against Porter by three months. When they met Thurman defeated Porter by unanimous decision on June 25.

He defeated Garcia by split decision in a welterweight unification match on March 4, 2017. A month later he had major surgery on his right elbow to remove bone spurs and calcium deposits. He is still in rehabilitation from that surgery.

Thurman injured his hand hitting the heavy bag last month and aggravated the injury sparring with some amateurs at his gym in St. Petersburg, Florida. An MRI revealed bruises to the metacarpal bones in the hand, which also has extensive swelling. Thurman can’t have any impact with the hand for at least 8 weeks, which added another delay to his ring return.

He now hopes to return to the ring in the late summer or early fall.

Jessie Magdaleno: I’m Going to Put on a Spectacular Show

World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior featherweight champion Jessie Magdaleno has spent his latest training camp running the mountains near Guadalajara, Mexico, and alongside some of the world’s best fighters at Legendz Boxing in Norwalk, Calif. Magdaleno is preparing for the role of main event headliner against No. 1 contender and interim champion Isaac Dogboe (18-0, 12 KOs) on Saturday, April 28 at The Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.

“I’m mentally ready. I’m physically ready,” Magdaleno said. “Being here with {trainer} Manny Robles keeps me ready. The sparring has been great, but I get impatient sometimes and just want to get in the ring for real. I have to stay calm and wait until the fight comes.”

Said Robles: “Dogboe is a real tough opponent. Jessie definitely has to be ready for this fight, and it should be a fan-friendly fight.”

Magdaleno (25-0, 18 KOs) won the world title with a unanimous decision over four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire on Nov. 5, 2016. He has defended his belt once, a second-round stoppage over Adeilson Dos Santos last April. When Magdaleno steps into the ring against Dogboe, it will have been 371 days since the Dos Santos fight.

“It’s been a long training camp, and I’ve been training with some excellent fighters,” Magdaleno said. “I was with {WBO featherweight champion} Oscar Valdez in Mexico, and now, it’s the home stretch. We’re more than ready to get back in the ring.”

The pre-fight drama escalated last month when Dogboe’s father/trainer, Paul Dogboe, told Ghana’s Pulse website: “We hope Magdaleno will not run like a chicken. We hope he makes the weight and comes in with no excuses because we are ready for him. We are ready to eat him like a chicken. We are focused, and our only mission is to devour him, eat the crazy chicken, throw him over the wall of Mexico and present the title to Donald Trump. Magdaleno will run when he sees Isaac.”

Paul Dogboe has since apologized, and Magdaleno is intent on doing his talking inside the ring.
“It’s about experience, staying focused, and doing our job,” Magdaleno said. “Manny keeps me focused on the fight, and that is my main concern.”

Magdaleno-Dogboe will be televised LIVE on ESPN and stream in English and Spanish on the ESPN App at 7 p.m. ET. Undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+, available on the ESPN App, beginning at 4 p.m. ET. ESPN Deportes will air the fight at 10 p.m. ET.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets, priced at $100 (ringside), $65 and $35, are ON SALE NOW and can be purchased at The Liacouras Center Box Office and www.liacourascenter.com, or by calling Peltz Boxing at 215-765-0922.

Adonis Stevenson to Face Badou Jack May 19th in Toronto

Undefeated knockout artist Adonis Stevenson, the longest reigning light heavyweight world champion, will defend his title against two-division champion Badou Jack on Saturday, May 19 live on SHOWTIME from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

The showdown between Stevenson and Jack is one of the most intriguing matches in the light heavyweight division as Jack, a former 168-pound and 175-pound champion, has relinquished his title for the chance to challenge one of the hardest hitters in the sport. Both men are looking to make their claim as the class of the division.

Stevenson vs. Jack is part of a split-site SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT with featherweight champion Gary Russell, Jr. defending his title against mandatory title challenger Joseph Diaz from the MGM National Harbor in Maryland on Saturday, May 19.

Tickets for the Toronto show, which is promoted by Groupe Yvon Michel, Lee Baxter Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, are on sale Friday, April 27 and will be available at www.ticketmaster.ca.
“It is the second time that we will come to Toronto to promote a WBC world championship fight with Adonis Stevenson,” said Yvon Michel, President of Groupe Yvon Michel. “If you found the first event to be spectacular, be sure not to miss the second one as it will be a real firework! Badou Jack is a two-division world champion and an Olympian. He is dangerous and by far the biggest challenge for Adonis since he won the title against Chad Dawson in 2013. We are confident that ‘Superman’ has what it takes to defend his title successfully for the ninth time.

“I would also like to give thanks to our co-promoter Lee Baxter. This event would not have been possible without his collaboration. In addition, I am grateful for Lee and Wayne Zronik from MLSE, who are providing great support for this event and has opened the doors of the Air Canada Centre to us.”

“Mayweather Promotions is looking forward to partnering with Groupe Yvon Michel to pull off this highly anticipated matchup,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Adonis Stevenson has been a reigning champion in this division since 2013. Badou Jack has risen to every challenge he’s faced in his career. Now, he has an opportunity to become a three-time world champion and that raises the stakes for him. I predict two confident, hard-punching and highly skilled fighters will enter the ring at Air Canada Centre on May 19, both determined to walk away a champion.’’

“We are looking forward to hosting this spectacular event at Air Canada Centre,” said Wayne Zronik, Senior Vice President, Music and Live Events at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “It is the first title fight that the venue will host. We’ve worked with this group before to bring world class boxing to the city and are excited for the return of championship boxing to Toronto, and to Air Canada Centre in particular.”

Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) owns one of the most powerful left hands in boxing and goes by the ring moniker “Superman’’. The 40-year-old Stevenson has made eight successful defenses of his title since winning it with a knockout victory over Chad Dawson in 2013. The lineal 175-pound champion most recently defended his title with a second-round stoppage of Andrzej Fonfara last June and delivered a third round TKO over Tommy Karpency in his most recent defense in Toronto in 2015.

“I’m definitely excited and hungry to get into the ring and perform,” said Stevenson. “I’ve trained very hard for this fight against Badou Jack. I’m looking forward to winning this fight by knockout. I’m from the Kronk Gym and we always look for the knockout. Jack is a good, technical boxer. He was a world champion and he has done very well. He’s tough and I won’t underestimate him. I’ll be prepared for anything he brings in the ring.

“I’m fighting him at home in Canada, so I’m looking to give the fans a good show. I’ve got power and I’ve got the best left hook in boxing. I’ve got 12 rounds and I just need to touch you once to end it. It’s not complicated. I don’t need three or four shots. I just need one shot and you’re not going to recover. I’m going to finish you.”

The 34-year-old Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) relinquished his 168-pound world championship following a majority draw against James DeGale in 2017 to move up to light heavyweight. He made a successful debut at 175 pounds by knocking out Nathan Cleverly for the light heavyweight championship last August. Jack then relinquished that title to seek out this challenge against the division’s heaviest hitter. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, a 2008 Olympian for his father’s native Gambia and now residing in Las Vegas, Jack is looking to become a three-time world champion on his opponent’s home turf on May 19.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to fight for my third world title against one of the division’s best, Adonis Stevenson,” said Jack. “I’ve been asking for this fight for a long time and was willing to fight him anywhere, including his backyard. I know he’s good and very dangerous and that’s the reason I want to fight him. I’m all about the best fighting the best and come May 19th, I’m bringing the WBC belt back to Las Vegas. My newborn son, Malik was born just before training camp so now I have two children to fight for, which gives me all the motivation I need to get this win.”

Gary Russell Jr. vs. Joseph Diaz Press Conference Quotes

WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) and unbeaten No. 1 contender Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. (26-0, 14 KOs) hosted a press conference and faced off for the first time Tuesday before their championship showdown Saturday, May 19 live on SHOWTIME from MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

Tickets for the event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions in association with Golden Boy Promotions, are on sale now and are available by visitinghttp://mgmnationalharbor.com/.

The Russell vs. Diaz fight is part of a split-site SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast that will feature WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Adonis Stevenson defending his title against two-division world champion Badou Jack in a main event from Toronto presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Russell Jr., a 2008 U.S. Olympian and 126-pound titleholder since 2015, will defend against his mandatory challenger in the 25-year-old Diaz, who represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic games and will be competing in his first title bout.

Here is what the fighters had to say Tuesday from TAP Sports Bar at MGM National Harbor:
GARY RUSSELL JR.

“It’s amazing to be fighting at home. It’s cool to know that the people I see around all the time will be able to get in the car and drive 15 minutes to come watch this massacre. I can’t wait.

“I appreciate JoJo for being honest and saying that he feels I’m the best featherweight in the world. That speaks volumes.

“We stay focused in the gym. The inactivity doesn’t mean anything. It’s no issue. I’ve had hand issues in the past but I’m able to preserve my body and stay sharp, stay focused. I’m a fighter that’s always in shape. I never take a day off. You can ask my wife. On anniversaries, we’re in the gym. On birthdays, we’re in the gym.

“Regardless of what the situation is, you want a sense of financial stability for yourself and your family. I’m at the point of my career where I have maybe six more fights in me. We want to maximize everything. We want to maximize our revenue and it’s been irritating because a lot of the champions don’t want to get in the ring with me. I appreciate JoJo for giving me the opportunity to sharpen my teeth a little bit more. At least he’ll have the opportunity to say he got in the ring with Mr. Gary Russell Jr.

“I’m one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet. Speed, power, ring IQ, we can get ugly if we need to. I don’t plan on going 12 rounds. I’m not going the distance with anybody for the remainder of my career. Mark my words.

“When you have guys that fight and move around a lot, it makes it difficult to get to them the way you want to. When you have a guy that is straightforward and will be in your face, it makes it much easier for me and they’re much more susceptible to get hit.

“A lot of fighters win with pure athleticism because they’re faster, stronger or in better shape. They’re not winning because they have the ability to make the necessary adjustments based on what goes on in the ring. I tell people all the time that boxing is intellect manifested on a physical form. In most cases, the more intelligent fighter wins.

“My father says that whenever you see a fight that is an all-out, knockdown war, it’s just two stupid fighters that didn’t have a plan B or the ability to make the adjustments to make the fight easier. If that’s JoJo’s game plan, it’s going to make this fight a lot easier for me. It’s not going 12 rounds.

“As far as a hit list of my next opponents goes, we are first going to take care of JoJo. I would love to get a unification bout with Leo Santa Cruz after that. If we don’t get that, I plan on moving up in weight and challenging whoever has the title in that division. You want to know who I really want, though? I want Mikey Garcia.

“My last fight will be against (Vasyl) Lomachenko. I want to conclude my career with breaking my foot off of him. That will be the conclusion of it. I’m willing to wait, though. Right now, we’re good.
“Of course I would entertain a fight with Gervonta Davis. We’re cool. He’s somebody that I actually watched grow up and develop as a fighter, but you have to stay in your lane. When I move up in weight, he’s got to get out of the way or he’s going to get ran over too.

“I didn’t want to come home to fight until I had a world title. That’s the reason I didn’t fight at home for so long. Now we have the title, and I wanted to fight at least one more time here.

“I want to maximize our revenue because I don’t plan on fighting for too much longer. I had my first fight at seven years old. I’m 29 now. That’s a long time competing and a lot of wear and tear on your body. I’m a guy that doesn’t cut corners, so it takes away from the time I could be spending with my family and friends. I’m ready to spend time with my family and children and live out the fruits of our labor. But in the meantime, everybody else is in my way. They’re trying to take food off my baby’s plate.”

JOSEPH DIAZ JR.

“I don’t think the fact that I’ve been more active will give me any advantage. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing and getting the experience I need inside the ring before facing an elite fighter like Gary Russell Jr. My preparation has been good. I’ve fought tremendous opponents and I have all the experience to come out victorious May 19.

“It doesn’t affect me at all fighting in his hometown. I’m happy to fight in his backyard. He’s the champion and that’s what champions get to do. I know what he’s capable of doing. He says I don’t have the boxing IQ or the power and speed that he has, but he’s going to be in for a rude awakening come fight night. He’s going to see that I have all the tools.

“It’s a dream come true to be fighting on this stage. Ever since I roomed with Errol Spence at the Olympics, we always promised each other that once we became pro we were going to fight all the elite athletes and the best champions. Gary Russell Jr. is the best at 126 pounds. I’m not scared to fight him and that’s what Errol Spence did, too. He beat Kell Brook in his hometown.

“Gary Russell Jr. is by far the best featherweight in the world. Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Lee Selby, none of these guys want to fight Russell. They’re afraid of the speed and the counter shots. But I know what I’m capable of doing and I’ll showcase it May 19.

“A win would mean everything for me. It would be a dream come true realizing all of the hard work I’ve put in since I was 13 years old. It would mean that I’m the champion and I’d be the shot caller.

“I think his speed is an obstacle; he’s very fast. But that’s the thing about me, I’m good at adapting to any style that I fight. Come fight night I know that his speed is going to be fast, but it’s nothing that I won’t be able to take, or nothing that will shock me. I’m going to be able to adapt to that speed and make sure I’m able to land my shots when he’s opening up.

“I’m very confident; 100 percent confident I’ll beat him. I know that this is an opportunity that is presented to me and I’ll be victorious. I’ve always prayed to God that I could fight on SHOWTIME and for a WBC title. And now that I am it feels like it’s all settling in and it’s all coming true. I’m working hard every single day, and once I get my hand raised in victory I’m going to go from there.

“If he gets a little bit over confident like he did against [Oscar] Escandon, he’s going to be in for a rude awakening. He’s going to be shocked with not only my punching power, but also with my combinations and with my speed. I’m not like a Jhonny Gonzalez where I’m just throwing one shot, or slow combinations. I’m pretty fast with my punches and you won’t see my punches coming because I throw them very elusive and I punch from different angles. He’s going to be very shocked if he fights the way he fought Oscar Escandon.

“I don’t think it’s going to go the distance. Gary Russell is going to go out there and not back down and give the fight fans a good show, but I’m going to go out there and give a good show and not back down. So I think we’re both not going to back down and we’re going to brawl it out, and let the best man win.”

Sullivan Barrera Expects Bounce Back Performance on Kovalev-Alvarez Undercard

Light heavyweight contender Sullivan “Sully B” Barrera is back in training camp armed with a new fight date and a fresh attitude.

The former Cuban amateur standout admits that not much went right in his March 3rd loss to Dmitry Bivol but chalks it up to an off night and said that it was a learning experience.

Barrera is back with his team but has also added a sports psychologist to his squad in an effort to make sure a repeat of March 3rd doesn’t happen.

“I feel great. I know that was just one bad night. I am not worried about the past and only looking ahead,” Barrera explained.

The plan is for Barrera to return to the ring sometime in the summer on the Sergey Kovalev-Eleider undercard and he hopes to fight the winner next.

“I think the fans know that I always want to fight the best out there. After this fight I want another big fight. My goal is to fight whoever wins between Kovalev and Alvarez,” said Barrera.

“Boxing is like sex. You can be the best lover in the world but sometimes you have an off night. My fiancee knows I am the best even if I don’t perform as well one night. I want to get back in the ring and show the world my best again.”

More Headlines

Is the Welterweight Division the Strongest in Boxing?


By: Ken Hissner

The welterweight division is packed with talented boxers and mentioned as the toughest division in boxing. The WBA Super World and WBC champion is Keith “One Time” Thurman, 28-0 (22), of Clearwater, FL, who defeated Shawn “Showtime” Porter, 28-2-1 (17), of Las Vegas, NV, in June of 2016. Thurman is scheduled to defend his title May 19th at the Barclay Center, in Brooklyn, NY, with an opponent to be named. Thurman hasn’t fought since March of 2017. Porter won the WBC Silver title in November 2017. He also lost to Kell Brook, of the UK. He entered the ring over the weekend barking at Garcia who had just defeated Brandon Rios. He had to be escorted out of the ring.

Devon Alexander “The Great”, 27-4-1 (14), of St. Louis lost his IBF title to Porter in December of 2013. He drew with the former WBC champion Victor Ortiz, 32-6-3 (25), of Ventura, CA, this past weekend and was robbed. Porter lost it to Kell Brook, of the UK, in August of 2014. Brook lost it to Errol Spence, Jr. in May of 2017 and hasn’t fought since and dropped out of the ratings. Spence still holds the title and is 23-0 (20), of DeSoto, TX, and in his once defense he stopped Lamont Peterson, 35-4-1, in January of 2018 who is no longer in the ratings. Spence is scheduled to defend his title on June 16th in Dallas, TX, with an opponent to be announced.

Lucas “La Maquina,” Matthysse, 39-4 (36), of Argentina won the WBA World title stopping Tewa Kiram, 38-1, of Thailand, in January of 2018, and Kiram is no longer in the ratings. Matthysse lost to Danny “Swift” Garica in 2013 at Super Lightweight.

Garcia, 34-1 (17), of Philadelphia, PA, lost his WBC title to Thurman in March of 2017. He just had his first fight since then stopping the former WBA Lightweight champion Brandon Rios, 34-4-1, this past weekend. Garcia was asked afterwards if he wanted a rematch with Thurman and he said “that’s up to him.” Garcia is No. 2 in the WBC and No. 1 in the WBA.

The WBO champion is Australia’s Jeff “The Hornet” Horn, 18-0-1 (12), who won the title on a gift decision over former world champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, 59-7-2 (38), of the Philippines in July of 2017. Horn must fight his No. 1 contender Terence “Bud” Crawford, 32-0 (23), of Omaha, NEB, who held the four organization title at Super Lightweight and is having his first welterweight fight. That is scheduled for April 14th in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao is ranked No. 3 by the WBC and No. 2 by both the WBA and WBO. He is scheduled to fight Mike Alvarado, 38-4 (26), of Thornton, CO, April 14th in Las Vegas. The IBF’s No. 1 and No. 2 slots are vacant. Cuban Yordenis Ugas, 21-3 (10), of Miami, FL, who is No. 14 and stopped No. 11 “The New” Ray Robinson, 24-3, of Philadelphia, PA, over the weekend with the winner promised the No. 2 spot.

The No. 3 spot in the IBF is held by Carlos “Chema” Ocampo, 22-0 (13), of Baja CA, Mexico, who has never fought outside of Mexico. He has not defeated anyone of record but still has that high rating. Either Ugas or Ocampo may get that title shot at Spence.

Jesse “The Pride of Las Vegas” Vargas, 28-2 (10), of Las Vegas, NV, is No. 3 in the WBA and No. 4 in both the WBC and IBF. He lost to Pacquiao in November of 2016. Vargas outgrew his WBA Super Lightweight title after his November 2014 defense and has gone 2-2 since.

The UK’s British champion Bradley Skeete, 27-1 (12), is the WBO No. 3 and IBF No. 5 contender. He hasn’t fought since July of 2017. Another unbeaten contender is Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, 32-0 (13), living in Big Bear, CA, ranked No. 9 in the IBF and No. 8 in the WBC.

So, to summarize the situation in the welterweight division both WBC and WBA champion Thurman and IBF champion Spence, Jr. have defenses scheduled without opponents at this time. Horn will be meeting Crawford who is heavily favored to take that title. Thurman may be fighting his No. 1 contender Porter. Spence could fight Ugas, Ocampo or Vargas. The division is wide open for some great fights!

More Columns

After Conquering The United Kingdom, what is the Next Move for Errol Spence Jr.?


After conquering The United Kingdom, what is the next move for Errol Spence Jr.?
By: Kirk Jackson

He came, he saw, he conquered.

IMG_3811

Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. 22-0 (19 KO’s) delivered on his promise, dethroning IBF welterweight champion Kell “Special K” Brook 36-2 (25 KO’s) in a thrilling, competitive bout across the pond in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom this past weekend.

Displaying what Spence described as “True grit,” the newly crowned champ accomplished the same feat a few high profile, contemporary American fighters accomplished – traveling to the United Kingdom to win their first world title.

Terence Crawford, Timothy Bradley and Marvin Hagler won their first world titles in the United Kingdom. Pretty good company.

After eating a few of Brook’s “Chocolate brownies,” Spence dissed out his own punishment, stopping the brave Brit in 11 rounds.

“I watched some of his fights and he likes to fight at a certain pace,” Spence told Showtime’s Jim Gray after winning the title.

“And once you pick up the pace on him, he kind of breaks down a little bit, and he can’t throw a lot of punches. So I decided to press the action, make him fight at a pace that he didn’t wanna fight at. Then he started breathing hard and he started slowing down, and I knew that I had him.”

Spence stated in his post-fight interview, the goal is to fight all of the top guys in the division. He wants to unify all of the belts and specifically called out unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s) and WBO welterweight champ Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao 59-6-2 (38 KO’s).

“I’ve been calling Keith Thurman out for a long time,” said Spence. “Now it’s time. You say I have to prove myself and I haven’t fought anybody. Well, I just beat the so-called biggest welterweight in the division – Kell Brook. So now, Keith Thurman, you know, come-out. It’s time to fight.”

Thurman appears to be game. Whether these fights occur remain to be seen. It’s been suggested Spence has been avoided in boxing’s toughest division.

It will be difficult to avoid Spence now that he has championship stake in the division. If he can unify, then all championship welterweight roads must be traveled through him.

“The goal is to unify the titles,” Spence told Sky Sports following Saturday’s fight. “I wanna fight Keith Thurman next, you know, Manny Pacquiao next. I wanna fight the champions next, unify the division and become the undisputed champion of the world.”

Danny “Swift” Garcia 33-1 (19 KO’s) and Thurman played their part in the unification process earlier in March and it will be great for boxing if the trend continues throughout the year.

With Pacquiao facing relatively unknown contender Jeff “The Hornet” Horn 16-0-1 (11 KO’s) in July, time to will tell if he wants to participate in this unofficial, welterweight-tournament styled unification process.

Spence appears to have a bright future and it will be interesting to see the challenges in store for him next.

More Columns

Which Path Will Keith Thurman Take?


Which path will Keith Thurman take?
By: Kirk Jackson

Unified WBC and WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s) was in attendance at last weekend’s big boxing event at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Thurman witnessed former adversary Shawn Porter improve to 27-2-1 (17 KO’s), defeating Andre Berto31-5 (24 KO’s) via 9th round TKO in a WBC welterweight title eliminator.

ThurmanKarass_Hoganphotos

Porter, triumphant in his first bout since losing to Thurman in June of last year, has lobbied for a rematch ever since the decision was announced.

The Cleveland native accentuated his desire for a rematch with Thurman in his post-fight interview with Showtime reporter Jim Gray.

“I was just up here wishing he said yes — that’s the fight I want next,” Porter said of Thurman, who was ringside for the bout.

“The people wanna see me fight Keith Thurman.I understand that he has other obligations, but right now we’re just gonna move forward, doing what we do. I’m gonna allow my dad to do what he always does. And we’ll stay blessed, we’ll stay ready and hopefully that WBC title is next.”

In response to Porter’s wishes, Thurman at the very least said he is ready for a sequel.“His team was adamant about the rematch, and now he’s fought his way to earn that,” Thurman said.

“We just need to sit down and talk about it. He’s hungry. You see the way he fights. It could be a great fight again.”

Their fight last June was one of the best fights of 2016 and is a fight anyone wouldn’t mind watching again.
With Porter moving past Danny Garcia and Amir Khan in the WBC welterweight rankings, Porter has first dibs if Thurman wants to hold onto and defend his WBC portion of the welterweight title.

But there are a few other options Porter and the Showtime network alluded to for Thurman.

Thurman mentioned he wants to fight legends. With Floyd Mayweather 49-0 (26 KO’s) in talks to face mixed martial arts star Connor McGregor; a fight with Thurman appears unlikely. That leaves current WBO welterweight champion, Manny Pacquiao59-6-2 (38 KO’s).

Pacquiao is scheduled to face Jeff Horn 16-0-1 in July. Many regard this fight as a joke, but this may be a tune-up fight for something bigger towards the end of the year. A unification bout with Thurman would be nice.

Thurman mentioned fighting again in November, which leaves plenty of time for Pacquiao if he defeats Horn.
Only thing standing in the way is the three headed monster in charge of making Pacman’s fights; Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, head trainer Freddie Roach and financial advisor Michael Koncz.

Pacquiao could use his political power and trump them all, calling his own shots and take the challenge of Thurman. But what we’ll likely see is the safe, financial choice, regarding who he ultimately ends up fighting.

Another option is the winner of the Kell Brook 36-1 (25 KO’s) and Errol Spence 21-0 (18 KO’s) IBF clash taking place May 20th in Sheffield, Yorkshire on Showtime.

Hardcore boxing enthusiasts finally caught a glimpse of what can potentially be; with Thurman and Brook standing next to each other and talking about the possibility of facing one another soon. Perhaps they are speaking it into existence.

Spence has to get past Brook – which will not be an easy task.

Brook is undefeated as a welterweight and is regarded as the best welterweight depending who you ask. Former super middleweight champion Carl Froch believes Brook was the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather prior to losing to middleweight king Gennady Golovkin last October.

“Brook is the heir to the welterweight throne and can be the best in the world. There is no reason he can’t take over, but there is a big ‘if’ as well,” said Froch.

Spence is not short on confidence, neither is Thurman. Of course, the match-ups depend on who wins between Brook and Spence.

For match-making sake, Thurman and Spence share the same advisor (Al Haymon) and it may be easier to make this fight – in what appears to be an unofficial welterweight tournament taking place.

As it stands in this current welterweight landscape, Thurman is the main man and should be regarded as the best fighter in the division. It’ll be interesting watching the path he takes to continue to prove it.

More Columns

Is It Still KO’s For Life?


Is it still KO’s for life?
By: Kirk Jackson

It wasn’t the slug fest some anticipated, but more of a fistic chess match between players with adverse styles.

The styles of each fighter (Thurman, Garcia) distinct, along with the intentions of each fighter (boxing from the outside vs. aggressive pursuit), many of the rounds were up for debate even to the well trained eye.

IMG_2922

While it does not appear to be “KO’s for life” for the newly unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion Keith Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s), he displayed impressive skills in victory over Danny Garcia 33-1 (19 KO’s).

Viewers of the Premier Boxing Champions on CBS did not witness a knockout in the main event, however, prospect turned contender Erickson Lubin 18-0 (13 KO’s) scored a sensational KO en route to his victory over Jorge Cota 25-2 (22 KO’s).
The PBC knocked the competition ratings wise leading their time slot.

Regarding Thurman, although he did not score the knockout he wanted and there may be discussion regarding how rounds were scored or interpreted, the fact remains he is still undefeated.

While boasting an impressive KO percentage of 76%, 22 stoppages in 28 fights, Thurman has not scored a KO since 2013.

“KO’s for life, okay. I’ma put you to sleep all day, every day. If not, I’m going to sleep because I come to fight. I come to hurt you or get hurt,” stated Thurman.

Why the recent decline of KO’s for Keith?
The lack of knock outs may be due to the technique; Thurman does not fully thrust his weight, thrust his hips into all of his punches so he can score the knockout.
It’s more so arm punches; flashy punches with great speed and accuracy, but not always with enough power to knock someone out. Thurman’s punches however are situational.

Depends on the opponent, varies on what Thurman is trying to do from a strategic standpoint. Against Garcia, Thurman was trying to box from the outside and tally up points. It’s difficult to sit down and place weight with punches when constantly moving. This is a case of strategy and victory over obtaining a knockout.

Also to note, with victories over Julio Diaz and Luis Collazo in 2014 and 2015 respectively, both fighters quit on their stool in between rounds. It could be noted neither fighter wanted to continue enduring the power punches from Thurman
Knockouts are harder to come by when facing elite level opposition.

Pacquiao hasn’t scored a KO since 2009 and he’s heralded for his punching power right? When stepping up in class, in most cases, the fights are against boxers with better defensive skills and greater chins.

It hurts the sport when the art is not properly diagnosed and analyzed; when there isn’t an explanation from the commentators as to what the viewer is watching, there may be confusion. Paulie Malignaggi’s presence was missed.

Some of the older heads of the sport who are so dismissive of the newer generation of fighters do not do the sport any favors.

Many writers and media personalities criticizing the fighters and the fights at every whim, motivated by hidden agendas is not helping matters.

ESPN barely touched on this fight leading up to Saturday. The well show First Take, featuring a self-proclaimed boxing fan Stephen A. Smith and longtime boxing analyst Max Kellerman hardly touched on this fight.

There were only three fights in history of the sport featuring two undefeated welterweight champions unifying the titles prior to Thurman vs. Garcia. Two boxers in their primes and who are pound for pound quality fighters.

How is the sport supposed to return to glory days, when media personalities in a position of power hardly talk about the sport in a positive light?

Perhaps the criticism of this fight particularly stems from Thurman’s proclamation of seeking knockouts and destruction.

While that sounds great in theory, it’s not realistic for the reasons aforementioned. Especially if Thurman can’t knockout or knockdown the smaller man; Garcia spent most of his amateur and professional career at 140 lbs.

In spite of these criticisms, Thurman displayed all of the qualities of p4p fighter this past Saturday. Elusive lateral movement, pristine jabbing, speed, combination punching and most important high level boxing IQ.
Instead of living by the mantra “KO’s for life,” Thurman may want to switch up to – victories by any means necessary.

More Columns

Boxing Insider Notebook: Canelo, Chavez, Russell, Lemieux, Thurman, Lubin, and more..


Boxing Insider Notebook: Canelo, Chavez, Russell, Lemieux, Thurman, Lubin, and more..
Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of February 28th to March 7th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.

IMG_2939
Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime

Canelo vs. Chavez Tickets are Sold Out!

Living up to its billing as one of the biggest fights of 2017, the Cinco de Mayo weekend showdown set for Saturday, May 6 between two-division world champion Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34KOs) and former WBC middleweight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) has sold out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The number of tickets sold, more than 20,000, is among the largest indoor sell-outs in the rich history of Las Vegas prizefights.

“Big fights sell, and as anyone can see from the fact that we sold out Las Vegas’ biggest boxing venue less than 10 days after tickets became available, Canelo-Chavez, Jr. is a huge fight,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO and Chairman Oscar De La Hoya. “Now that T-Mobile Arena is full, we will soon announce venues for showing the fight on closed circuit for fans still planning to come to celebrate in Las Vegas, and fans can of course see the fight in the comfort of their own homes on HBO Pay-Per-View.”

Earlier this week, Golden Boy Promotions announced that Argentinian slugger Lucas “La Maquina” Matthysse (37-4, 34 KOs) will appear on the HBO Pay-Per-View in his first fight in more than a year and a half against Emmanuel “Tranzformer” Taylor (20-4, 14 KOs). The remainder of the Pay-Per-View slate and undercard will be announced shortly.

Canelo vs. Chávez, Jr. is a 12-round fight presented by Golden Boy Promotions and sponsored by Tecate, BORN BOLD, Adriana’s Insurance and Interjet. Matthysse vs. Taylor is a 10-round fight presented by Golden Boy promotions in association with Arano Boxing and Star Boxing. The event will take place on Saturday, May 6 at T-Mobile Arena and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

Gary Russell, Jr.-Oscar Escandon Featherweight Title Match Postponed After Escandon Suffers Injury in Training

The featherweight championship match between Gary Russell Jr. and Oscar Escandon, scheduled for Saturday, March 11 at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland, has been postponed after Escandon was injured in training, according to Escandon’s promoter Sampson Lewkowicz.

“Oscar suffered an injury to his back in training and he’ll be ready to go in April,” Lewkowicz said. “He’s very sorry for the delay in the fight, but these things happen in boxing. He’s really looking forward to facing Gary Russell, Jr., but he wants to be completely healthy when they do meet.”

Escandon, a 32-year-old Colombian with a record of 25-2 with 17 KOs, is the mandatory challenger for Russell’s featherweight championship. Jermell Charlo defending his 154-pound title against Charles Hatley will be the co-feature on the rescheduled card.

“It’s definitely irritating,” Russell said. “But injuries happen especially when you have somebody pushing their body to the limit for a fight that is potentially life changing. It’s disappointing. It might not work out for him because I have a little more time to get ready.”

“We’re working with the venue and the network to find the earliest date that we can reschedule the show,” said Tom Brown of TGB Promotions. “I feel terrible for the fighters who have been training so hard and now have to wait. Gary is really disappointed, but he understands that injuries are all a part of the sport. But Gary will be ready to go on the rescheduled date.”

David Lemieux Media Workout Quotes

Former IBF Middleweight World Champion David Lemieux (36-3, 32 KOs) hosted a media workout at Sherbatov MMA in Laval, Quebec, the same week he departs for Verona, NY for his upcoming showdown with Curtis “The Cerebral Assassin” Stevens (29-5, 21 KOs). The middleweight bout takes place Saturday, March 11 at Turning Stone Resort Casino televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Lemieux was joined his trainer Marc Ramsay at today’s media workout and spoke onsite about his matchup with Stevens and his training leading up to the mega event for the middleweight titles. Below is what Lemieux and his team had to say at today’s workout:

DAVID LEMIEUX, Former IBF Middleweight World Champion:

”The last time that my opponent spoke so much and I so disliked him, I believe it was Delray Raines. I broke three of his ribs and his nose. It didn’t end up very well for him.

”I couldn’t be more prepared for a fight. I have one objective in mind: I want to take his head off. I am so motivated to put on a great performance on Saturday night. Stevens put a lot of oil in the fire with his disrespectful comments and he will pay for it.

”I had an exceptional camp and we have prepared for this fight very seriously. We are ready for the best Stevens there is, going 12 rounds if needed. I guarantee you that it will be a rough night for him. ”

MARC RAMSAY, Trainer to David Lemieux:

”It is important to go there and deliver a spectacular performance. This is a good challenge. In this fight, we have to execute well what we have prepared to do for the last eight weeks. ”

Tickets for this highly anticipated matchup are still available and priced at $30, $45, $55 and $75 for ringside seats plus applicable fees and are available at the Turning Stone Resort Box Office by calling 315-361-7469 or online at Ticketmaster(www.ticketmaster.com).

Lemieux vs. Stevens is a 12-round middleweight bout for the WBO Intercontinental, WBC Continental Americas and IBF North American Middleweight titles, presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Eye of the Tiger Management and Main Events, and sponsored by “Tecate, BORN BOLD.” The HBO Boxing After Dark® telecast begins at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Quotes from Keith Thurman and Erickson Lubin After their Victories on Saturday

Keith Thurman is the unified welterweight world champion.

Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) unified boxing’s glamour division with a split-decision victory over Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) on Saturday, defending his WBA belt and picking up Garcia’s WBC crown on boxing’s biggest stage in primetime on CBS from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.

The event, which was produced by SHOWTIME Sports® for the CBS Television Network, marked the highest-attended boxing event in Barclays Center history with 16,533 fans witnessing just the 10th unification in division history.

The close affair, which was only the third time undefeated fighters unified the 147-pound division, was scored 116-112 Thurman, 115-113 Thurman and 115-113 Garcia.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on CBS main event, which was presented by Premier Boxing Champions, was a tale of effective aggression and ring generalship. Thurman came out swinging and was the busier and more accurate fighter in nine of the 12 rounds. “One Time” Thurman was more tactical in the second half of the fight, utilizing lateral movement and working off his jab. Garcia picked up the pace and was more active in the final rounds, but it was too little too late for the previously undefeated Philadelphia native.

“I thought I out-boxed him.” said Thurman, who likely earned a spot on boxing’s mythical pound-for-pound list with the impressive victory. “I thought it was a clear victory, but Danny came to fight. I knew when it was split and I had that wide spread, I knew it had to go to me.

“I was not giving the fight away. I felt like we had a nice lead, we could cool down. I felt like we were controlling the three-minute intervals every round. My defense was effective – he wasn’t landing.”

A former unified champion at 140-pound, Garcia was aiming to be the first fighter in history to unify titles at 140 and 147 pounds.

“I came up short tonight,” said Garcia, who entered the bout with a 7-0 record in world title bouts. “I thought I was the aggressor. I thought I pushed the pace. But it didn’t go my way.

“I thought I won and I was pushing the fight. But it is what it is. I’ll come back strong like a true champion. I would love a rematch to get these titles.”

SHOWTIME Sports analyst and unofficial scorer Steve Farhood scored the fight 116-112 for Thurman.

Undefeated super welterweight Erickson Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs) knocked out Jorge Cota (23-2, 20 KOs) in a WBC 154-pound title eliminator, dropping the previously once-beaten Cota with a flush overhand left at 1:25 (TKO) of the fourth round.

Lubin now becomes the No. 2 challenger to WBC Welterweight World Championship Jermell Charlo, who is due a mandatory bout against No. 1 contender Charles Hatley.

The Orlando-native Lubin landed 47 percent of his power shots across four rounds of shutout boxing.

“I baited him with the jab. I knew he was going to come with the big shots early,” Lubin said to reporter Jim Gray. “I put a few tricks on him, I landed that overhand and it was night-night. I put my hands down to bait him in, I did a squat and then it was night-night. I was ready to follow-up with a right but he was already out.”

At just 21-years-old, Lubin now has an opportunity to become the youngest world champion in boxing today.

“That would mean a lot to me; that would mean a lot to Orlando, Florida,” Lubin said. “This is my second time knocking someone out in front of Ray Leonard. He’s one of my favorite fighters of all time. It’s an honor to do this on CBS.”

Reynoso to Face Valenzuela for WBC Silver Latino Super Bantamweight Championship on April 1st

On Saturday, April 1, at the Arena Jalisco in Guadalajara, México, promoters Eddie Reynoso of Clase y Talento, and Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing will team up to present a night of world-class boxing, televised live on TyC Sports of Argentina.

As part of TyC’s ongoing 25th anniversary celebration of boxing shows, this exciting event will feature a 10-round battle for the WBC Silver Latino Super Bantamweight Championship between Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Roman Ruben Reynoso (19-1-2, 8 KOs) and Sonora, Mexico’s Christian “Molacho” Valenzuela (13-0-1, 8 KOs).

Reynoso has left his native Argentina just twice in his career, but on one of those occasions, fought to a split draw with well-regarded prospect Adam Lopez on ShoBox: The New Generation in July 2016. Like Reynoso, the undefeated Valenzuela has never left his home country, but has stayed busy with 14 fights in his three-year career.

In the chief supporting bout, Argentinean 2016 Summer Olympian Alberto Palmetta will go for his third consecutive victory as a professional against Mexico City’s Luis Montelongo (4-1).

26-year-old Palmetta, a junior middleweight, was one of the most heavily decorated amateurs in his country’s history, in addition to fighting in the 2016 Summer Olympics, he won numerous national and international distinctions including the bronze medal at the 2015 Pan American Games. He turned professional in November 2016.

In the televised opener, Novato, California via Uruguay’s Rudy Macedo (3-0, 3 KOs) will face also undefeated Leonel Rodriguez of Mexico in a four-round welterweight showdown. The power-punching Macedo was an amateur world champion, PAL champion and five-time Silver Gloves Champion. He is trained by Nonito Donaire Sr.

The event is sponsored by Tecate beer, “cervezas con carácter.”

“I am proud to be part of this event and to be helping TyC celebrate their anniversary,” said Sampson Lewkowicz. “They have done a tremendous service to boxing throughout their history. Thank you to my esteemed partner, Eddie Reynoso, as well. I’m looking forward to a great night of fights for the fans in Mexico, Argentina and around the world to enjoy.”

Five more exciting bouts are scheduled for the untelevised undercard.

March 10th Philly Fight Night Quotes

Kicking off the Philly Fight Night series Friday, March 10, at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia are 11 fights. Topping the show will be an old-fashioned, all-Philly rumble when lightweights Anthony Burgin and Avery Sparrow collide after an eight-week training camp for each. In the six-round semifinal, Philadelphia favorite Fred Jenkins Jr. meets Roque Zapata, of Culpeper, VA. The first fight will begin at 7:30 p.m., and tickets will be available at the door.

The four fighters and their trainers had this to say about training camp:

Anthony Burgin:

“Camp was great; I feel strong and focused. I am in amazing shape for March 10. It was a benefit for me being in Puerto Rico, not only because of the weather but also for the new things I learned and did there to bring my talent to another level mentally and physically. I pushed my body to limits I didn’t even know my body could go to. Now I am just ready for March 10.

“The feeling of fighting a main event in Philly is unbelievable. I am greatly appreciative to have this big opportunity, especially in my own city where all my friends and family can watch. It’s only the beginning for what’s in store for Anthony ‘Bad Boy’ Burgin.

“Every fight for me is an important fight. There is no added pressure just because I am headlining the card, but never have I been so focused for a fight like this and it scares me as crazy as that sounds. I can’t wait to step in the ring. I have been sparring with Michael Perez and a few other guys from Puerto Rico, just working on the game plan.”

TRAINER Raul Rivas:

“Anthony looks amazing; like he’s fighting for a world title. His conditioning and mindset is very focused.

Avery Sparrow:

“Camp has been the best ever, I feel the best I have felt in my whole career. We worked hard and smart. I have grown from my last fights, inside the ring and out. I got stronger physically and mentally. I feel it’s going to be hard to beat a guy like me when I’m this focused. I’ve been beating guys just off my talent and now that I’m in peak shape you’re going to see the best Avery ‘A Plus’ Sparrow. The fans and boxing supporters are going see that I’m a world-class fighter and one of boxing’s next superstars. I’ve been under the radar from the beginning of my career.

“It feels great to be fighting in the main event and it’s been a long time coming. I have a lot of fans all around but there’s no place like home. We are ‘war ready’ and we’re gonna put on a great show for the hometown fans who have been supporting me from the start. I want to give them a knockout because that’s what they deserve. We are not looking for a knockout; we’re just looking to put on a great show and get the win so I can put our city on the map again since Danny Garcia just lost the title. Someone needs to stand up for Philadelphia. I feel I’m the perfect candidate I have the look, skills, power, talent and the work ethic to put the city on my back. All in all it just my time and my city gets to witness the first step in greatness for Avery “A Plus” Sparrow.

“Training at home has been positive. I get to train alongside Bernard Hopkins, Jesse Hart and other top guys from Philadelphia who work hard and push me. They give me good advice and knowledge of the game. We also have the best fighters in the world here so I get the best sparring. By training in Philly, my team and I can’t go wrong. I’m at the point in my life and career where I’ve been through so much there’s nothing negative about anything in my life.

Just waking up in the morning is blessing to me. I could have trained anywhere and still been focused.

“I like Anthony; he’s a good guy, very humble and a good fighter. I just feel like he missed his window. He’s been stopped, he has two losses and he’s just not mean enough to beat a guy like me I’m ready to die in there and I don’t think he is.”

TRAINER Greg Hackett:

“Everyone knows what it is. They are coming to see Anthony Burgin get his head chopped off. This is not a fight; this is an execution. Avery Sparrow looks like a brand new Bugatti on the showroom floor. His ability to focus has been amazing. Anything I ask for, he gives it to me. He turned it up for this fight. Anthony Burgin is a prime duck, ready to be plucked!”

Fred Jenkins, Jr.:

“Camp has been awesome. I can’t wait for this fight. It is everything. It’s not just a fight, it’s do or die. I look at all my fights the same. I go about it as if it’s a fight, it’s boxing. Boxing is fighting. All that extra shit people do, that’s not me, it’s just this is life and death, it’s a fight and I’m gonna get in there and fight the best fight I ever fought. Throughout my life I have been training around world champs and contenders.

“I am not looking past this fight. I look past no one. I’m the son of a man who has been around for a long time and I know they know me. Every opponent is coming to fight and either knows or assumes they know who I am because of my dad. It means a lot to be fighting the semifinal, but you’re supposed to go into every fight the same. It’s not about thinking this fight is more important than that fight. The job is to go in there and win by any means necessary. The object is to win. My goal is to get in there and win every time.

“Zapata is just a fighter who comes to fight. He’s fighting Fred Jenkins Jr. this time and he’s in for a real fight. He has never fought anybody before. He’s fighting somebody now. If you want to know more, come see fight night what I am about. I saw him fight Isaiah Wise and it was a good fight. One thing I noticed was that he threw a lot of punches and Wise was still fighting. Wise was really hitting him but he (Zapata) was out-working Wise. I saw what Zapata can do but I’m a fighter and I’m just gonna get in there and fight until the end. I live for this; I get a kick out of it. I love it. I’m not the bragging and boasting type. I’m a quiet guy but when the heat is on I’m gonna fight.”

TRAINER Fred Jenkins, Sr.:

“Fred looks superb. Whatever Zapata brings to the table we are going to match it. After this fight we are looking to move into co-main event position.”

Roque Zapata:

“I feel honored to be back fighting in Philadelphia. Knowing that my performance is what brought me back and that is what I plan to do, give the fans a fight! Of course, I want to get the win but it’s up to me to see if I can pull the trigger and perform at the absolute best.”

“Jenkins has a lot more boxing experience. It doesn’t bother me at all. All I know is that Jenkins is going to do what he always does best and I’m going to do what I do best. One of us will get the best of the other and on Friday night everyone will see who is better.”

“I am not worried about coming to his backyard or being the underdog. In my MMA days and in boxing I’ve been fighting in the other guy’s backyard a lot and I love it. I know I’ll get the best Fred Jenkins, Jr., that night and it’ll be fun. Being the underdog isn’t something I worry about. I’ve been the underdog in all of my fights. To me it means people are doubting my abilities and that’s fine. I’m used to it.”

TRAINER Eric Zamora:

“He is very focused and hungry for this fight. He’s put in the necessary work to have his hand raised on March 10. We have enhanced his strengths and worked on his weaknesses. Expect to see a Roque like never before.”

More Headlines

Thurman Made a Statement, but What Now for the Champ?


Thurman Made a Statement, but What Now for the Champ?
By Harry Hogg

Keith Thurman (28-0)claimed a split decision victory over Danny Garcia (33-1) in New York on Saturday night to unify the WBA (super) and WBC welterweight titles. The victoryin front a record crowd at the Barclays center consolidates Thurman’s position as the number one fighter in the 147lbs division.

Keith Thurman

Thurman’s display was well worth the victory, his incredible movement and eye catching punch power was there for all to see. In the end he was far too classy fora pretty ordinary Garcia, who seemed to lack any real ideas as to how to deal with Thurman.

Thurman’s performance was not without its flaws however. Seemingly cruising towards victory, Thurman faded late on giving Garcia the last few rounds. In the end this almost cost Thurman on the cards. He was in control for the majority of the fight and should have claimed the win unanimously. But his reluctance to engage late on and tendency to play safe almost backfired on the unbeaten American.

Never the less there is no denying he was the better fighter and deserved to be the first unifiedwelterweight champion since Floyd Mayweather in 2015. He was smart and picked his shots well, combined with some impressive footwork and movement, he was difficult to pin down for a largely inactive Garcia. The Philadelphiaman was resilient and kept coming forward, but very rarely troubledThurman.

What is next?

Thurman is now the number 1 fighter at 147, and is the man to beat. And while Garcia expressed his desire for a rematch, it is difficult to see this one happening again. The fight started well enough but never really kicked into gear, with Garcia leaving himself far too much to do in the later rounds.

But the American will surely be keeping a close eye on events in London in May, when Kell Brook defends his IBF belt against the dangerous Errol Spence Jr.The prospect of a second unification fight in a year would prove tempting for Thurman should he face the winner.

Or he could turn to the WBO champion in Filipino Legend Manny Pacquiao, whose April 23rd bout against Amir Khan is still without a venue.

Before any thoughts of another unification however, Lamont Peterson is likely to be announced as the next mandatory challenger for Thurman. Peterson, who picked up the WBA (regular) belt recently by beating David Avanesyan, would prove a tricky test for the new unified king.

The possibility of Thurman moving up to 154 would not be out of the question either. The champ looked bigger and stronger in comparison to Garcia on Saturday, and it would seem like he would have little trouble making the 154 limit. If he chooses to do so, a huge fight against Saúl Canelo Álvarez or Erislandy Laracould present itself.

Whatever Thurman decides do, he has put himself in a position of power and there are endless options open to him. He is the number one in the division and the route to welterweight supremacy will go through him.

More Columns