The Welterweight Picture, and Where Keith Thurman Fits Into It
By: Jonah Dylan
Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao have been promoting their July 20 welterweight world title fight this week, so, understandably, they’ve been trying to say stuff that’ll get picked up in the mainstream media. When Thurman (29-0, 22 Kos) was asked if he’d fight again this year, he had an interesting response.
“No sir, no sir,” he said. “We get this job done, shoot, we’ve gotta relax.”
It’s a concerning comment from a guy who’s been infamously inactive over the last two years. After he won a split decision over Danny Garcia in March 2017 to unify two titles, he didn’t fight again for 22 months before he returned with a shaky majority decision win over Josesito Lopez in January. Seeing him turnaround relatively quick for the Pacquiao fight was a good sign, but not if he doesn’t stay active after it.
This isn’t to write Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) off, either. Obviously the guy is one of the greatest fighters of all time and still looks like a good fighter, even if he’s clearly not the fighter he once was. It’s very possible he could beat Thurman, especially considering the trouble Lopez – not considered a top-flight contender – gave him back in January.
In some sense, this fight is a no-win scenario for Thurman. If he wins, well, he just beat a 40-year-old guy whose career is on its last legs. If he loses, he just lost to a guy who no one thinks is in the same league as Terence Crawford or Errol Spence, and realistically Thurman would have a lot more work to do to rehabilitate his image as the best welterweight in the world.
It’s easy to forget, but it wasn’t that long ago that everyone had Thurman as their top guy in the division. Then Spence (25-0, 21 KOs) burst onto the scene when he knocked out Kell Brook to win a piece of the welterweight title and suddenly became arguably the most avoided fighter in the division. A couple months later, Crawford vacated his undisputed super lightweight crown to enter the mix and later won a world title in his first fight at 147 pounds.
Without fighting, Thurman went from being the No. 1 guy in the division to someone who isn’t even a real part of the conversation. Pacquiao probably picked him due in no small part to how beatable he looked against Lopez, and the fact that he doesn’t look nearly as dangerous as Spence in terms of his power (“One Time” nickname aside).
The fight everyone wants to see is Spence against Crawford, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Spence against Shawn Porter – a guy Thurman already beat – makes sense, and it’ll give Spence more leverage when he’s ready to actually negotiate with Crawford. The fight is also reportedly already in the works for late summer or early fall.
After that, Spence could opt to fight the Thurman-Pacquiao winner to get another belt (and continue #StrapSzn, as he says). Or he could fight Garcia, or Yordenis Ugas, or Sergey Lipenets, all solid welterweights under the PBC banner. Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) has no one to fight, and as time goes on, he needs Spence more and more.
But this is where Thurman could come back into the picture. Let’s say he beats Pacquiao, and Spence takes out Porter and unifies titles. The next obvious fight would be Thurman against Spence, but if Thurman really doesn’t want the Spence fight, he could actually circumvent the whole process and try to get the Crawford fight for himself. Think about it: Top Rank is going to be desperate for Crawford opponents, and Thurman (especially an undefeated Thurman with a belt) would be a good one. They want one of the PBC welterweights, and he fits the bill.
Thurman could make a lot of money to go fight Crawford. This time, it’d be a win-win scenario. If he wins, he just went to the other side of the street and took down arguably the best fighter in the world. If he loses, he can say he was the one who was truly willing to fight anyone, not Spence. It would also justify his layoff if he actually fought top-level opposition in the near future. As an added bonus for fans, Crawford and Spence would both have two belts and that fight would be even more appealing.
This is still unlikely, for a number of reasons. For one, there’s no indication that Al Haymon is going to send any of his welterweights to fight Crawford. If he did, it probably wouldn’t be Thurman. But who knows?
Thurman needs to build himself back up, and he needs to do that with consistent activity, not against B-level guys but against the best the 147-pound division has to offer.
Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman: Could a Loss Lead to Retirement?
By: Waqas Ali
Boxing’s only eight division titlist Manny Pacquiao has been in a battle of verbal exchanges with Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman over the possibility of retirement.
The pair are scheduled to meet in a welterweight clash on July 20 for a Fox pay-per-view event at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Thurman (29-0) will be defending his WBA welterweight belt for a third time against Pacquiao and has vowed to end the Filipino’s career in retirement.
“If you understand boxing history, you know that times change,” Thurman said.
“Boxing is in a new era. Come July 20, Pacquiao will disappear. He’ll always be remembered in the sport, but I’m doing to Pacquiao what he did to Oscar De La Hoya. I’m excited to be the guy who shows Manny Pacquiao where the exit is.”
The reference to De La Hoya was when Pacquiao retired the Mexican – American fighter in their 2008 bout. Pacquiao had moved up three weight classes for that bout.
But Pacquiao (61-7-2), who’s been a professional fighter for 24 years, insisted that he’s not ready to retire and will decide on his own terms.
“He’s saying things before we fight, but I will send a message to him in the ring about exactly who he’s fighting; he will come to know that,” Pacquiao said Wednesday as he and Thurman stopped at the Beverly Hills Hotel to promote their bout.
“No man can dictate when I’m going to retire.
“I’ve been in this sport two decades. Nobody intimidates me. Thurman should respect his elders, especially this elder.”
When the 40-year-old legend spoke to reporters at a press conference on Wednesday, they asked him on his thoughts regarding Thurman considering retirement, should he lose to Pacquiao, he simply said: “He will retire.”
There was a huge distinction from both fighters in their recent bouts.
Pacquiao fought former four-division titlist Adrien Broner in January and outclassed him for 12 rounds.
The speed. The timing and the footwork was executed really well and for most of the fight Broner could not respond to the punches utilised by Pacquiao.
According to Compubox, Pacquiao landed 112 of 568 punches (20 percent), and Broner connected on 50 of 295 (17 percent).
Many viewers and spectators at ringside felt that it was like the Pacquiao of old. For Broner, it was lowest amount of punches he’d ever landed going the 12 round distance.
Thurman on the other hand fought Josesito López and after a year and a half away from the ring he was pushed to his limits in this bout.
By Compubox statistics, Thurman landed 247 of 899 punches (27%), and Lopez connected on 117 of 513 (22%).
There were times in the fight where Thurman was troubled in the middle rounds and in particular rounds seven and eight.
Though he managed to survive and won on two of the three judges’ scorecards, it had raised doubts of the 30-year-old’s ability to defeat a man of experience like Pacquiao, who was already a 3-weight world champion when Thurman turned pro.
Regarding the purse for the bout, there has been no official confirmation of how much Thurman will be making but sources have indicated Pacquiao will be making at least $20 million for the bout.
This bout is a crucial one for both fighters as one could contemplate retirement higher than the other. Pacquiao in particular had not stated when he would retire specifically but a loss against Thurman could be the option for him.
A second fight with Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather would be a mega sell as boxing fans have been yearning for it since the first. It broke records in gate, television, tickets and purses. But neither Mayweather nor Pacquiao have come close to negotiations.
Thurman, however has stated that if he were to lose to The Fighting Pride of the Philippines, he would possibly consider commentating as a fighting analysis broadcaster.
“Pshh … probably,” Thurman said when asked about retiring if Pacquiao beats him.
“I’d at least think about it. I’d at least be like, ‘Can I do some more commentating or something? Can I do some more commentating?’ Momma said I look good in a suit. I don’t think she wants to see her boy get punched on TV. Getting beat up by an old man.”
It’s really doubtful that this could be the case considering that it would the one loss in his record and that he would still a lot in his ammunition to offer.
Especially when the welterweight division is packed with exceptional talent and potential rivals such Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr, Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia.
Keith Thurman in Pursuit of Legends and Legendary Status
By: Kirk Jackson
The man known as “One Time” finally has his time across boxing’s biggest stage on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View. The date July 20th, 2019 is finally etched in stone, as former unified welterweight champion and current WBA (Super) welterweight champion Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KO’s), takes on eight-division and current WBA (Regular) welterweight champion, Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO’s).
For a large portion of his unblemished career, the Clearwater city-native chased the big fish. He famously chastised Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KO’s) for years, although while managing to conveniently circumvent a looming, menacing, encounter with a shark in the form of current IBF welterweight champion, Errol Spence (25-0, 21 KO’s).
However, en route to unifying the WBA and WBC welterweight titles, Thurman conquered former multi-division world champion Robert Guerrero (35-6-1, 20 KO’s), along with a series of other former world titlists. Thurman culminated his quest, defeating current WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KO’s) and former two-division champion Danny Garcia (35-2, 21 KO’s), capturing the WBC welterweight title in a unification bout.
A series of nagging injuries, along with a string of personal events subsequently followed, keeping Keith on the shelf for approximately 22 months. After a successful return bout and bouncing back from nearly a two-year absence, Thurman finally reeled in the catch of a lifetime in the form of Pacquiao.
The question beckons, now that he finally has this once in a lifetime opportunity, can “One-Time” still live up to his moniker under the bright lights of Showtime? Its been a long-time since he delivered on his promise of “KO’s for life.”
Not everyone is Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KO’s); armed with a right hand possessing the power of Thor’s hammer. And knockouts are not necessary, as of course this is the “Sweet Science.”
But when the fighter professes his love of knock-outs, with several quotes referencing such,
knock-outs should be delivered.
The last time Thurman stopped an opponent was Dec 14, 2013 – stopping gritty Jesús Soto Karass on the undercard of Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana.
In spite of the recent uphill battle, in his comeback bout after two years of inactivity against Josesito López, Thurman is still in a good position to end his KO-less streak against an aging fighter.
“I’m extremely excited for this opportunity to get a fight that I’ve wanted for a long time,” said Thurman at the Los Angeles Press Conference for Pacquiao-Thurman.
“The right circumstances have aligned for it to happen now and I’m grateful for that. Me and my team are looking forward to it. It’s going to be an honor to be in the ring with Manny Pacquiao. It’s going to be fun to go back to MGM Grand in my first pay-per-view with FOX Sports. I believe that Ben Getty would be very proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. He said I’d be able to dominate the welterweight division and be a multi-million-dollar fighter and a star in the sport.”
Thurman also eluded to weaknesses and deficiencies in Pacquiao’s style during the press conference.
“Manny Pacquiao is beatable. He’s been beaten before in his career. He’s a fan favorite and a legend. For me his boxing tactics are predictable. He fights in spurts and you have to take advantage of that. You have to be respectful of his power. But I believe my movement, athleticism and ring knowledge will be able to present him something he’s not seen in all his years of boxing.”
Thurman is in an interesting timeframe for boxing and for his weight class at welterweight. Regarded as one of boxing’s deepest divisions, match-ups of historic proportions remain a foreseeable possibility.
The champion from Clearwater, FL has the opportunity to align his stars with some of the greats of yesteryear and even with those of recent memory. Although the bulk of “One-Time’s” career is embedded in the pages of history, there are still many chapters left to unwind; meaning much is left to be determined and he has the opportunity to construct his legend.
Thurman believes his time is now and that with Pacquiao and Mayweather gone from the sport, it’ll leave him, Errol Spence, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter as the main guys in the 147-pound division.
The narrative of the eventual fight and the story is the already cemented legacy of Pacquiao, with Thurman chasing his footsteps. Although the focus is on one another, each fighter frequently mentioned in the past, and even still to this day, another legendary fighting potentially fighting into the equation.
“It’s really important to have a (rematch) with Floyd (Mayweather),” Pacquiao told FOX Sports’ Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe during a recent edition of Skip and Shannon: Undisputed on FS1. “Some fans still doubt who won the fight.”
“I still believe I deserved to win. But like I said, I respect the judges. It’s why we want the rematch though; people have a lot of question marks in their minds.”
Not certain many people doubt who truly won the fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather, nor is there much demand to the see the bout, as both fighters are in their 40s.
But as history indicates, whenever there’s a fight with Mayweather involved, typically it generates a lot of money for all parties involved.
Regarding Thurman, in speaking with Sporting News, he mentioned, “There were moments where I kind of knew Floyd (Mayweather) was not looking at me as an opponent toward the end of his career. One of those moments was when I became the WBA (Regular) champion and he became the [WBA] (Super) champion because the (Super) champion is not required to fight mandatories, so I could not force Floyd Mayweather in any position to step in the ring with me.”
“I just don’t think I was on Floyd’s to-do list and then I had a few minor setbacks – not the same as the elbow surgery, but some shoulder problems at that time,” Thurman added.
While referencing Pacquiao and Mayweather, it’s interesting analyzing and comparing Thurman’s career, to the two main legendary figures he is in pursuit of. It’s always fun to compare resumes and speculate right?
Keith Thurman: World Titles, World Title Fights and other feats
• WBA Welterweight (Interim/Regular) Title (July 27, 2013 – January 28, 2015; 5 defenses).
• WBA Welterweight (Super) Title (February 7, 2017 – present; 3 defenses).
• WBC Welterweight Title (March 4, 2017 – April 24, 2018; 0 defenses).
o Vacated WBC Welterweight Title in 2018.
(7-0, 3 KO’s) against world champions.
(5-0, 1 KO’s) in world title fights.
Notable opponents: Carlos Quintana, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, Shawn Porter, Robert Guerrero and Danny Garcia.
• Defeated 4 undefeated opponents with ten or more bouts.
• The Ring Magazine Prospect of the Year (2012).
• Winner of 2 World Titles.
Manny Pacquiao: World Titles, World Title Fights and other feats
• WBC World Flyweight Title (December 1998-September 1999; 1 defense).
• IBF World Super Bantamweight Title (June 2001-2003; 4 defenses).
• WBC World Super Featherweight Title (March 2008-July 2008; 0 defenses).
• WBC World Lightweight Title (June 2008-February 2009; 0 defenses).
• WBO (3) World Welterweight Title (November 2009-June 2012; 3 defenses, April 2014-May 2015; 1 defense, November 2016-present; 0 defenses).
• WBC World Super Welterweight Title (November 2010-February 2011; 0 defenses).
• WBA World Welterweight (Regular) Title (July 2018-present; 1 defense).
Ring Magazine Title
• World Featherweight Title (November 2003-March 2005; 2 defenses).
• World Junior Lightweight Title (March 2008-July 2008; 0 defenses).
• World Junior Welterweight Title (May 2009-July 2010; 0 defenses).
• World Flyweight Title (December 1998-September 1999).
• World Featherweight Title (November 2003-March 2005).
• World Junior Lightweight Title (March 2008-July 2008).
• World Junior Welterweight Title (May 2009-July 2010).
• World Welterweight Title (April 2016).
• Has a record of 18-4-2 (9 KO’s) in world title fights.
• Has a record of 24-6-2 (11 KO’s) against former, current, and future world champions.
• Has a record of 5-1 (4 KO’s)* against International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.
** As of 2019.
Notable opponents: Juan Manuel Marquez (4), Erik Morales (3), Marco Antonio Barrera (2), Chatchai Singwangcha, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Timothy Bradley (3), Floyd Mayweather, Chris Algieri and Joshua Clottey.
• Only boxer with 5 Lineal Titles.
• Only boxer with world titles spanning across 8 divisions.
• Winner of 9 World Titles.
Floyd Mayweather: World Titles, World Title Fights and other feats
• WBC Super Featherweight Title (1998-2002; 8 defenses).
• WBC Lightweight Title (2002-2004; 3 defenses).
• WBC Super Lightweight Title (2005; 0 defenses).
• IBF Welterweight Title (2006; 0 defenses)
• WBC (2) Welterweight Title (2006-2008; 1 defense, 2011-2015; 5 defenses).
• WBC Super Welterweight Title (2), (2007; 0 defenses, 2013-2015; 1 defense).
• WBA Super Welterweight (Super) Title (2012-2016; 1 defense).
• WBA Welterweight (Super) Title (2014-2016; 3 defenses).
• WBO Welterweight Title (2015; 0 defenses)
• Unified Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015; WBA, WBC).
• Unified Welterweight Title (2), (2014-2015; WBC, WBA, 2015; WBC, WBA, WBO).
• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and WBC Junior Middleweight Title (2007).
o Vacated WBC Junior Middleweight Title in 2007.
o Vacated WBC Welterweight Title in 2008.
• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and WBA Junior Middleweight Title (2012-2015).
• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2013-2015).
• Simultaneously held Unified Welterweight Title (WBC, WBA) and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2014-2015).
• Simultaneously held Unified Welterweight Title (WBC, WBA, WBO) and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2015).
o Stripped of WBO Welterweight Title in 2015.
o Vacated WBC Welterweight Title and WBC Junior Middleweight Title in 2015.
o Vacated WBA Welterweight Title and WBA Junior Middleweight Title in 2016.
The Ring Magazine Title
• World Lightweight Title (2002-2004).
• World Welterweight Title (2), (2006-2008, 2013-2015).
• World Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015).
• World Junior Lightweight Title (1998-2002).
• World Lightweight Title (2002-2004).
• World Welterweight Title (2), (2006-2008, 2010-2015).
• World Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015).
• (26-0, 10 KO’s) in world title fights.
• (23-0, 9 KO’s) in lineal title fights.
• (24-0, 7 KO’s) against world champions.
• Has a record of (13-0, 3 KO’s) against former or current lineal titlists.
• Has a record of (2-0, 1 KO’s)* against International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.
** As of 2019.
Notable opponents: Genaro Hernandez, Zab Judah, Jesus Chavez, Angel Manfredy, Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, Robert Guerrero, Arturo Gatti, Shamba Mitchell, DeMarcus Corley, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo (2), Marcos Maidana (2), Carlos Baldomir, Andre Berto and Canelo Alvarez.
• Fourth boxer to win a world title in at least five weight divisions (Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya).
• Second boxer to win a lineal title in at least four weight divisions (Manny Pacquiao).
• Holds the record for most world titles held simultaneously 5 (WBC, WBA, WBO Welterweight Titles and WBA, WBC Super Welterweight Titles).
• Olympic Bronze Medalist*
• Winner of 11 World Titles.
While comparing Thurman to Pacquiao and Mayweather by the numbers, it looks skewed heavily in favor of the legends. Albeit minor, there are discrepancies with some of the numbers.
For example, Thurman’s title defenses of his WBA (Regular) Welterweight Title are not tallied as official title defenses – at least according to Boxrec. However, that very same title (the world title Pacquiao currently covets) is listed as an official title defense against Adrien Broner across the very same site.
Another question is how the Lineal and The Ring titles are tallied. The Ring title, differing from the four sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO) awarded world title belts since 1922 and have their own championship policy. Again, minor details perhaps not truly important when grading fighters and their respective careers at the end of the day.
Nonetheless, it’s a tall mountain to climb for Thurman, if he truly intends to walk the same footprints traveled by his pugilistic predecessors.
“Manny Pacquiao fought Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao fought Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao fought ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, so sharing the ring with Manny Pacquiao is like sharing the ring with all of these legends of the past.”
— Sporting News Fights (@sn_fights) May 21, 2019
It’s more than just sharing the ring with a legend. The truly great fighters, want to supplant the other great fighter rivaling them across the corner, each and every fight. Many don’t want to shine amongst the other great stars, they want to shine brighter; shine the brightest.
Come July, spectators will see which star illuminates brightest. The verdict is already out on Pacquiao, but the world will see how great Thurman truly is and if he can catch and surpass the legends he is chasing.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman and Caleb Plant vs. Mike Lee Los Angeles Press Conference Quotes
Eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao and unbeaten welterweight world champion Keith Thurman, plus unbeaten super middleweight champion Caleb Plant and unbeaten Mike Lee,squared-off for the second day in a row Wednesday, this time at a Los Angeles press conference as they previewed their respective showdowns taking place Saturday July 20 presented by Premier Boxing Champions and FOX Sports from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao and Thurman will battle in a welterweight world title attraction that headlines a PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Plant will make the first defense of his title against the unbeaten Lee in the main event of FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes preceding the Pay-Per-View and beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by MP Promotions, Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased online through AXS.com, charge by phone at 866-740-7711 or in person at any MGM Resorts International box office. Plant vs. Lee is presented by TGB Promotions and Sweethands Promotions.
Here is what the fighters had to say Wednesday from The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles:
“It’s easy for my opponents to talk before the fight, and I’m used to everything they say. But when we get to the ring, it changes, and it will change on July 20.
“I chose Keith Thurman because he’s a great fighter, he’s undefeated and because we can give a good fight to the fans. I want to make the fans happy on that night and show that I can still go toe-to-toe with any opponent.
“He said he’s young, but we’ll see who looks young in the ring on July 20. I’m going to let my fists say everything for me.
“We will work hard in training camp like always for this fight. We’re not going to take Keith Thurman lightly or underestimate him. He’s a world champion. I’m thankful for what he’s been saying, because it’s giving me motivation to prove that at 40-years-old, I feel 29.
“Keith Thurman is aggressive and throws a lot of punches. I’m hoping on July 20 he will follow through with what he says and fight toe-to-toe with me.
“The fans need to watch this fight because it’s a once in a lifetime fight. It’s going to be a Fight of the Year and full of action from start to finish. I’m ready to get it on July 20.
“Most of my opponents are bigger than me and I beat them all. When we get into the ring, it doesn’t matter. This has happened before and it will happen again against Thurman.
“My experience will be very important for this fight. It’s going to be useful against an undefeated fighter. I’m going to give him the experience of losing for the first time.
“I’m still having fun and enjoying the sport. I’m excited to go straight to the gym after this and start focusing on training for the fight.”
“It’s a blessing to be on this stage and have a fight of this magnitude. I’m an all-American fighter, an all-American champion and come July 20, I’m going to stay champion.
“Manny is a world class fighter. He’s a gentleman inside and outside of the ring. I look forward to trading punches with a living legend. But one thing’s for sure, he’s not walking away with my title.
“All Manny does is hop around in the ring. I’m not going to lose to a bunny rabbit. He’s not Tupac, but he does a little hip hop and he’s not going to stop until he gets dropped.
“Manny is a world class fighter, not a world class boxer. I’m going to trip him up in the ring and he won’t know what direction to turn to. I know who I am as a fighter, and it will be proven come July 20.
“I’m destroying the legend of Manny Pacquiao. His legacy ends on July 20 and mine begins. He’s an inspiration to many people throughout the world and everyone respects him, but I’m respectfully going to finish him.
“This is a big fight as far as the stage goes, but it’s a big fight against a little guy. He’s a veteran and I’ve dismantled veterans in the past. I believe I would have destroyed Manny Pacquiao five years ago. I’ve always been ready for this fight. He’s never fought someone like me with this kind of lateral movement, speed and power. I’m coming for him.
“I was in the gym four weeks ago starting some preparations. I wanted to get the ball rolling and use the momentum from my last training camp for this opportunity. Who better to showcase my skills and talent against than Manny Pacquiao? He chose me because it will be a guaranteed action fight.
“I think this is one of the best Manny Pacquiao fights in a long time. I’m going to bring it. Pacquiao did not get reminded in his last fight what it feels like to be up against a real champion. I’m the youngest, fastest, hungriest fighter that he’s ever been in the ring with. July 20, it’s the ‘Keith Thurman show’.”
“I never consider myself the A-side because my history says that I shouldn’t even be here. As beautiful as the belt is, it’s about more to me than that. It’s about legacy for me. I’ve been carrying myself as a world champion since the day I started this journey, so this is nothing new to me.
“I’m the whole package. I have speed, I have footwork, I have power, I have the heart and the will to win. Until you find someone else who’s all that, I’m going to keep having my hand raised.
“Where I’m from, there’s confrontation every day. This is nothing new to me. There are times I was told that I wouldn’t make it. Nobody paved the way for me like I’m from New York or Los Angeles. I paved my own way.
“Mike Lee is in uncharted territory. I’m curious on how he plans on beating me. Does he plan on roughing me up and trying to knock me out like my last opponent? Can he do that better than Jose Uzcategui? Is he going to try to outbox me with his hand and foot speed? Because there’s no person from 160 to 175 who could do that.
“I’ve been committed to the same thing for the last 18 years straight. Rain, sleet or snow, I stayed committed. I’m bred for this. I was created for this. It’s the only thing I’ve done my whole life. On July 20, I’ll be keeping the thing that I’ve worked my whole entire life for.
“At every decision that has to be made, you can go left or you can go right. From the genesis of my being, every time it was the moment to make a tough decision, I went the same way. Because I do not bend or fold for anything. No matter what’s tossed my way, this journey must go on for me. He said he has nothing to lose, but I have everything to lose.
“All the motivational videos that he watches and books that he reads, I’m the very essence and meaning of that. I’m the pinnacle of all those things he’s studied. You can’t learn mental fortitude in a book. Those things are earned, they’re not learned.”
“This is a dream come true for me. I’ve been through so much and there were days where I thought my dream was over. I’ve chased this since I was eight-years-old and I’m thankful for this chance to go after a dream that others thought I couldn’t reach.
“The beauty of this sport is that it’s only me and Caleb in there. Everyone else can only talk. I’ve been in the ring through adversity and stuck it out, because that’s the kind of person I am. I know that if I come on July 20 as the best Mike Lee possible, that I can win.
“I’ve been in the gym working every day. Doctors told me at one point that I wouldn’t fight again, but I’m still standing right here. I pushed through my pain to get here.
“I’m excited to be here in Los Angles, where we hold training camp. I’m bringing the belt back to Chicago, but Los Angeles is a second home to me.
“Today is the culmination of years of sacrifice, hard work and discipline. I’m undefeated for a reason but I feel people underestimate me and I like that. I’ve been underestimated my whole career. I’ve thrived off people say I couldn’t do it.
“I respect Caleb Plant. He’s the champion for a reason and I respect any fighter who can step into that ring. You have to be a different kind of animal to do that in front of all those people, and I am that animal.
“I’m coming with power, strength, speed and I’m going to give it everything I have. I’m going to become the new IBF Super Middleweight World Champion.”
RICHARD STURM, President of Las Vegas Live Entertainment & Sports
“I’d like to welcome back Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman, two of the world’s best fighters, back to Las Vegas and MGM Grand. Manny returns to the ring at MGM Grand following his convincing win in January while Keith will fight in Las Vegas for the first time in four years, looking to remain undefeated.
“We’re truly excited to be hosting this sensational event at MGM Grand and we look forward to seeing everybody in July.”
BILL WANGER, Executive Vice President of Programming, Research & Content Strategy for FOX Sports
“Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman is a living legend, versus a legend in the making. We’re excited to deliver an unprecedented night of boxing on July 20 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“Manny is one of boxing’s biggest stars. Keith Thurman is an undefeated world champion and a huge ratings draw. We’re excited to bring viewers inside the ropes and up close to the action on fight night, and produce extensive behind the scenes preview programming that will air across the FOX networks.
“FOX Sports is thrilled to have a battle on July 20 with such a compelling storyline to kick off a great night of championship boxing with the IBF champion Caleb Plant against the undefeated Mike Lee.
“In January, Caleb Plant headlined the most-watched boxing event ever on FS1. Now he’s fighting on the FOX network for the first time as the main event. At FOX Sports, big events that capture America’s attention are in our DNA. This fight certainly fits that bill.
“Our goal with the PBC deal is to build these fighters into household names, and we’re well on our way. We expect a great show on July 20 in Las Vegas.”
Both Pacquiao And Thurman Exude Confidence At NYC Press Conference
By: Sean Crose
“I’ve never been scared of a challenge,” Manny Pacquiao said during a New York press conference on Tuesday to promote his July 20th WBA welterweight title bout against Keith Thurman. “I’m so excited for this fight against an undefeated champion. He’s the kind of fighter that you can’t underestimate. His record and success gives me more motivation to work hard.”
Pacquiao, the aging great, is now in his forties – in many ways a remnant from a bygone era. Thurman, on the other hand, is in his prime, poised to be a pay per view star (the Pacquiao-Thurman match will be aired live on Pay Per View from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas). Yet Pacquiao made it clear that he doesn’t intend to be on the receiving end of a passing of the torch ceremony.
“I will make sure that I’m 100 percent and ready for this fight,” the 61-7-2 ring legend claimed. “We’ll find out what happens on July 20, but it’s going to be exciting. I like being the underdog for this fight because that gives me more focus in training.” Pacquiao also made it clear that he’s taking the fight with Thurman with the utmost seriousness.
“I’ve been careless and over confident in some fights,” he admitted, “but this time around it’s different. Keith Thurman is a good fighter and we’re going to make sure the fans are happy on July 20.”
As for the 29-0 Thurman, the enigmatic fighter exuded both confidence and respect. “Pacquiao wants a challenge and I’m very grateful to be sharing a ring with a legend,” he said. “If you understand boxing history, you know that times change. I believe boxing is in a new era. Come July 20, Pacquiao will disappear. He’ll always be remembered in the sport, but I’m doing to Manny Pacquiao, what he did to Oscar De La Hoya.”
The Florida native indicated that he intends to be the man to take Pacquiao out of the fight game. “”I’m excited to be the guy who shows Manny Pacquiao where the exit is,” said Thurman. “He’s a legend who’s done great things. But I’ve never lost to a fighter who’s lost seven times. I have no intention of losing this fight and I don’t see him winning in any shape or form.”
“Speed, power and overall ring IQ will be the difference,” Thurman continued. “I’m one of the smartest fighters in the sport. I always find a way to win. I know Pacquiao comes in shape, but he’s going to fall short of that finish line.”
Pacquiao, of course, would beg to differ.
“I chose Keith Thurman because he’s undefeated and I want to prove that at age 40 I can still beat a great fighter like Keith,” he said. “”My time is not yet over. My journey is continuing. I’m going to prove that and more on July 20 against Keith Thurman.”
Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman Ready to Prove Their Dominance
By: Hans Themistode
Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) kicked off their media tour press conference at the Gotham Hall in New York City. The contest is slated to take place on Saturday July 20th, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thurman, who ended a 22 month lay off when he took on Josesito Lopez on January 26th at the Barclay Center, is looking to add a big name to always impressive resume. To be frank, Thurman didn’t look as sharp as he normally does in his contest against Lopez. It was clear that the long layoff had took a toll on him. Coming into this contest against Pacquiao, many have questioned which version of Thurman we are going to see come fight night. Thurman reassured everyone that he will be back to his normal self come fight night.
“I came off that 22 month layoff against Lopez and there was definitely some rust but I was able to knock it off in that fight. For my fight against Pacquiao you will be see a much better Keith Thurman. I am still an elite level boxer.”
It has been four years since Manny Pacquiao has entered a contest as the betting underdog. His 2015 fight against Floyd Mayweather. The eight division world champion is keen to this stat and admitted that it has lit a fire inside of him. One that he hasn’t felt in quite some time.
“I am very motivated. I haven’t felt this way since the Oscar De La Hoya fight. I am very motivated.” Said Pacquiao.
At age 30, Thurman will enjoy a 10 year age advantage over his foe come fight night. Not only does the undefeated Thurman believe that he will defeat Pacquiao but he also believes that it will be in devastating fashion.
“He’s a great fighter, there’s no doubt about that, he has done a lot in the sport of boxing but he’s too small. After I give him this beating he won’t want to fight anymore. If I was all of you guys I would tune in because this is going to be his last fight.”
Could this be a passing of the guard? Or will Pacquiao prove that he still has plenty left in the tank? As both men faced off one last time before a packed house in New York City, it became clear that this fight is actually taking place. Both men talked a good game, but come July 20th they will get the opportunity to stake their claim as the best in the world.
Pacquiao-Thurman Announced For July 20
By: Sean Crose
Premiere Boxing Champions took Saturday’s Jarrett Hurd-Julian Williams televised card from Fairfax, Virginia to announce a major battle between the iconic Manny Pacquiao and the undefeated WBA welterweight titlist Keith Thurman. Pacquiao (61-7-2) was last seen besting Adrien Broner in a pay per view bout last January. Thurman (22-0) was also last seen fighting last January, when he bested Josesito Lopez in a tougher than expected bout. Pacquiao will be facing Thurman on Fox Pay Per View. No location was presented to fans Saturday evening, although the city of Las Vegas will most likely host the fight.
Al Haymon’s PBC finds itself in a fortunate position in that many, if not most, of the top welterweights in boxing now fight under it’s banner. Aside from Pacqiuao and Thurman, Errol Spence, Danny Garcia, and Shawn Porter are also PBC fighters. With IBF (and WBC “Diamond”) champion Spence reportedly being set to face Porter next, it appears pieces may be getting set into place to decide just who dominates the division (though it would be hard to declare a welterweight king without WBO champ Terence Crawford getting into the mix).
IBF super middleweight titlist Caleb Plant (18-0) will also appear on the Pacquiao-Thurman card, as it was announced that he would defend his belt against the 21-0 Mike Lee that same evening.
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?
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.
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.”
Sporting News asked Keith Thurman if he feels like he has to have a fight with Terence Crawford or Errol Spence in 2019 to prove he’s still the man at welterweight.
This was his answer:
(Part 1/2) pic.twitter.com/kuhecRWKJP
— Sporting News Fights (@sn_fights) December 23, 2018
Sporting News asked Keith Thurman if he feels like he has to have a fight with Terence Crawford or Errol Spence in 2019 to prove he’s still the man at welterweight.
This was his answer:
(Part 2/2) pic.twitter.com/eVjwwJa8o9
— Sporting News Fights (@sn_fights) December 23, 2018
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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]