Six years, Dan Birmingham has been with Keith Thurman. He took the reins soon after Thurman’s trainer/mentor Ben Getty died, and Dan’s bother MIke, their cutman, also passed away.
He’s been doing this, teaching, overseeing, being side by side top grade boxers as they ascend, for a long spell, since the early 70s.
Birmingham has chops, being that he was responsible for passing on much of the knowledge ace pugilist Winky Wright exhibited.
So, Dan Birmingham, I wonder…is Thurman all that? Is he going to be, when all is said and done, seen as a great?
“He’s a different animal, a really unique guy,” the Youngstown, Ohio native, who lives in Florida, told me. “He’s very creative, a very hard worker. He’s got a creative mind. The camp is never the same. He’ll hear about a move, think about it, and bring it to me. Like, he thought of a use for an up jab, he’d feint, move left, throw the up jab…”
So, I’m hearing that Thurman, who will seek to stop ultra vet Luis Collazo on Saturday night, on the first PBC on ESPN card Saturday night, is a cerebral sort….
“And he’s powerful, he can punch. All know that…and just ask my shoulders,” he continued.
OK, but he’s been thrown into the Mayweather mix last six months…how good is this kid?
“His potential is limitless,” the trainer said. “He’s only 26. He’s still discovering himself. But he’s a thinking fighter.”
I do wonder, sometimes, can’t that be a detriment?
“It can, probably, when you over-think in there…but I’ve never had that luxury with a boxer,” he said, chuckling.
We can all see it, the kid is being pushed. The idea of a Mayweather vs. Thurman fight was brought to the attention of Mayweather aide Leonard Ellerbe, who shot it down, a couple days ago. He said Thurman is good, but he doesn’t think he could beat Errol Spence, let alone “TBE.” Thurman “doesn’t understand how the game goes,” he said, presumably speaking about waiting your turn. Me, I’d think that it would make sense to see how Thurman looks Saturday, because if he blasts out Collazo, looks stellar, a buzz would be there to see this young gun test ole Floyd. But who am I to say…
Birmingham would love to see his kid get in with Money, he said. He loves the push Thurman is getting from Al Haymon, he said, is “the best guy in the business.”
“Keith has the goods to give Floyd Mayweather his toughest fight,” Birmingham told me. “But time drags on and that favors Keith. Floyd is getting older. But you got to give it to Floyd, he’s the best.”
Mayweather, he said, knows how to interrupt a boxers’ rhythm, is a gifted athlete, is master of timing and distance. So does Keith Thurman.”
As for Collazo, no, he’s not being looked past. “He’s a tough, strong guy, a determined veteran, he comes to fight,” Birmingham said. “He’s not going in there to get a paycheck. We can box him him, pick our spots and show power.
If the smart money is right, and Thurman beats the Brooklyner, what would Birmingham like next?
Names that make sense at the top of the list, he said, are Amir Khan and Kell Brook.
Thurman is dialed in, he said, healthy, on weight, he was 150 on Monday: “He’s just right!”
And who knows…if he performs magnificently, maybe a groundswell eruption forces Floyd to take a harder look at him for Sept. 12. Stranger things have happened…