The main brass behind a certain sports network giant somewhere in Connecticut seems to really care about a fight set to take place in Tampa, Florida. They’ve done it right this time as well. All precautions have been made to ensure that the live telecast goes off with neither hitch nor delay.
For more times than us boxing faithful would care to count, our weekly dose of “Friday Night Fights” was oftentimes put on a temporary hold as a college softball game found its way to get even painstakingly slower and slower. Such a setback won’t occur tonight however, as the network will precede the “Premier Boxing Champions” telecast with an hourlong replay of what is not a sport by any stretch of the imaginative, poker.
Unbeaten Keith “One Time” Thurman (25-0, 21 KO’s) will test his mettle as part of a homecoming affair in his home state of Florida against the rugged and well traveled Luis Collazo (36-6, 19 KO’s). Thurman has been at the forefront of a handful of live telecasts over the past few years and a brief moment of bad press of his own doing may have gained him a few admirers along the way. In June 2013, Keith had just dispatched of Diego Chaves in ten rounds for the interim WBA Welterweight crown at the AT&T Center in San Antonio when he mistakenly gave his audible thanks to the city of San Diego in error. It happens and any of us who have been hit in the face a few times have probably had our own unique “Hello, Cleveland” moment.
To be sure, ESPN has pulled out all the stops for this one as evidenced on Friday by its live coverage of the weigh in as well as the consistent details about the two combatants on its ever moving ticker across the bottom of our TV screens. It has certainly tossed at the sport the biggest of proverbial crumbs, thanks in great part to the experiment in progress set forth by Al Haymon not too long ago. Thurman has all the makings of a great champion and is one to consider at the forefront of boxing’s future as well as present. In addition to the aforementioned Chaves, “One Time” scored a very impressive, one sided win over Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero last March and holds knockout victories over such names as Jesus Soto Karass, Carlos Quintana and Julio Diaz.
He’s also made no secret of his burning itch to fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Chances are Floyd will announce his opponent of choice sometime over the next few days, and thereby eliminate Thurman from the possible running for his bout on September 12. Should Keith absolutely maul through Collazo in Tampa, then the probability is very high that the Clearwater native will take up from where he left off a few days ago. In a recent interview with Michael Woods, Thurman openly ripped Mayweather and stated that the sport’s top fighter (not to mention the highest paid athlete on the planet) cares more about the number of zeroes on his fight night paycheck than the legacy he will leave whenever he does indeed retire for good.
Talk is just that and it’s still cheap. Collazo is no slouch. The hardened fighter from New York has been in the ring with such names as Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Andre Berto, Victor Ortiz and most recently, Amir Khan. Many will argue that the fact that he didn’t knock out Ricky Hatton in May of 2006 was the only reason he was on the losing end of a very close contest. Hatton was slowly being introduced in the first of an eventual four fight run in the United States which ended in December of the following year. Hatton was put in his place via a tenth round TKO loss against Mayweather to the utter shock of a boisterous, loud and drunk MGM arena packed with Hatton’s faithful from across the pond.
Luis gave Andre Berto all he could handle in a close decision defeat in January of 2009. He handed a surprising second round knockout to Victor Ortiz early last year. Collazo is no one’s moving target, however the pressure to perform is squarely on Keith Thurman. The bout is going head to head against a huge pay per view UFC fight card in Las Vegas, although that in and of itself may be a dead argument. Presentation wise, Premier Boxing Champions delivers a great product in a manner which could appeal to the non boxing crowds. Should Thurman triumph via an impressive knockout win versus a man who’s only been knocked out once (over a dozen years ago) or even do so in a very impressive wash, then why not, at least feasibly pencil him in for Mexican Independence Day weekend in Las Vegas?
A bout with Mayweather could be a meaningful one for the boxing game, especially if the smoke and mirrors apparition of Floyd fighting on free TV is made a reality. At least one of these ideas could happen in two months. Keith would be clamoring at the chance to tarnish “Money’s” perfect record of forty eight wins against no losses.
Chances are however slim that he gets the chance so soon or that he’d do enough to conquer the king of boxing in his farewell outing. One day at a time is what is needed here. “One Time” may get his one day, so when and if he indeed gets the chance, more eyes will be upon him. Be careful what you wish for, young Thurman and assure yourself of one sure thing: your hopes for “out with the old and in with the new” could easily be more a case of “out with the new and still in with the old, nothing is new.” We’ll know a little bit more tonight in the city named after its constant lightning storms by the region’s original inhabitants.
Here’s to hoping he does not disappoint.