Oh, the eyeballs available on March 7. Keith Thurman gets it.
“One Time,” the 26-year-old Florida resident who has built himself into a player at 147, and someone who is seen as being on a short-ish list for ones to watch close in the near future, when the Mayweathers and Pacquiaos get touched by time in a way that an application of Just For Men can’t address, told me that he is quite cognizant of what can happen on March 7.
On that night, on NBC PROPER, no mere cable cousin, he will be fighting Robert Guerrero, certain to be a stern test, one that will measure his strength, and skills and probably his will. And he knows that merely winning, yeah, that’s great, but the way he wins will be arguably more important than on any other time he’s gloved up.
“This is the kickoff, and this year is extremely important, and I know the role I play in the kickoff will influence this series,” the 24-0 (21 KOs) hitter told me. “I’m waiting for this fight. It’s not on Showtime, not on HBO, you can click the first few channels. I’ve seen the billboards in Times Square, heard about the ads on the subways, in NY, in LA. It’s a BIG EVENT. You have Al Michaels, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marv Albert announcing. So I’m really looking forward to this fight, and this year. And I look forward to us having a conversation at this time next year, and talking about how far we’ve come.”
The March 7 event is the first primetime offering put together by the former music biz bigwig Al Haymon, who is applying some of his expertise in that realm and working to re-invigorate a sport which has not been savvy at tweaking its methods and operations and messaging the last few decades.
I did pose to the WBA “interim” welter champ Thurman, is there a possibility of over-reaching, of wanting to over-impress, with the comprehension that some 100 million eyeballs are up for grabs, and thus, that could find him wanting too hard to live up to the “One Time” tag. “There’s no danger of that,” answered the boxer who last fought Dec. 13 and won a UD12 over Leonard Bundu. “We do our job. I will do the best for me and that will be the worst for him. Now, in my last fight, my foe didn’t expect me to move.” Indeed, some fans expecting fireworks who saw a more subtle show of skills from the sniper Thurman took to Twitter to bemoan his MO against Bundu. “But if Guerrero is predicting I run, and if I find it easy to hit him, I may just lay flat-footed, and fire, and it could be an easy night. Easy and early night.”
And so we talked about the stakes. The eyeballs up for grabs. Newbies who don’t get Showtime or HBO. That’s understood. But there’s also the “F” word. Floyd. If Thurman gets an impressive win over Guerrero (32-2-1 with 18 KOs), who took Floyd twelve rounds when they tangled in May 2013, yes, that sends a message.
“I want to make a statement,” Thurman told me. “I want to speak to the channel clickers, get new fans intrigued. People know he went twelve with Floyd. If I get him out under twelve, that will make a statement. I’m ready for the Guerrero challenge, I’m not worried or thinking about Floyd. And how will I win? I might hurt the man, because I’ve hurt practically every man I’ve fought.”
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