He’s 25-0 (21), and just 26 years old.
His KO percentage is within 10% of the supposed biggest emerging star in boxing, Gennady Golovkin’s, and he’s five years younger.
There’s also a case that he’s beaten better opposition at welterweight than Golovkin has at middleweight. But in fairness to Golovkin, the mean of fighters is a faster track at welterweight than it is at middleweight. Also, Keith Thurman is a more versatile boxer/puncher than Golovkin and has scored impressive knockouts fighting as the attacker or moving away and boxing/counter-punching. Whereas Golovkin has to push the fight to be effective, and that’s a great style for a physical force like Gennady, until he crosses paths with a fighter who is capable of hurting him on the way in – or who can force him back. Right now no such fighter exists at 160, at least that I know of.
As for Thurman, he’s been getting a lot of attention recently leading up to his bout with Luis Collazo 36-6 (19) for the WBA welterweight title at the Sundome in Tampa Florida tonight. Collazo is a good fighter but he’s not elite under any standards. His best win came against Victor Ortiz in January of 2014, and like Ortiz, he usually comes up short when he ventures up in class. The good news regarding Collazo is, he has only been stopped once and that occurred during his second year fighting as a pro back in 2002. He’s gone the full route with fighters the likes of Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Andre Berto and Amir Khan. It’s interesting how when you list the names of four of the six fighters who have defeated him, they all have something in common, and that is they’re all former title holders and were considered elite or border-line elite at some point during their careers.
Let’s be honest regarding the Thurman-Collazo title bout this evening. It’s not a contest to see who the better fighter is or to find the answer regarding who will win. Everyone that follows the great sport of professional boxing knows Thurman represents big money and tomorrow – whereas Collazo, 34, is yesterday’s news and his best days are in the rear-view mirror. The good thing for boxing fans is Collazo doesn’t believe that and is coming to win and take advantage of the great opportunity of fighting for Thurman’s title. Luis knows beating the undefeated Thurman is like hitting the lottery for his next fight. So he’ll bring what’s left of his A-game……but in all likelihood he will come up short.
The question going into the fight is – will Collazo be moderately competitive and go the distance or will Thurman completely overwhelm him and win by an impressive stoppage? Keith knows the pot of gold for him is to somehow fight Floyd Mayweather 48-0 (26) before he retires. He must see Floyd at 38 as being beatable and vulnerable after his symbolic win over Manny Pacquiao 57-6-2 (38) two months ago.
Thurman needs to be impressive beating Collazo and look great doing it tonight, two things he didn’t accomplish during his last outing against Robert Guerrero 33-3-1 (18) this past March. The hurdle Thurman faces against Collazo is, if he blows him away too quickly, it’ll be said after the fight that he beat a shopworn fighter who’s punch resistance is beginning to erode from the previous wars of a successful forty plus fight winning career. On the other hand, if he controls the fight like he did against Guerrero, but doesn’t really look impressive or special; his critics will openly state he’s not much of a threat to Mayweather. Yet Mayweather is praised for beating a one-armed fighter in his last bout, a fighter who was barely over .500 (3-2) in his previous five bouts going into the fight, and suffered one of the most brutal one-punch knockouts in his last defeat.
As of this writing, Keith Thurman is viewed by many boxing observers as being the most dangerous fighter and biggest threat to Mayweather in the welterweight division. It’s sort of like the position Lennox Lewis was in when he fought Vitali Klitschko. Lewis was coming off of beating his career rival in Mike Tyson in his last bout, but Vitali was perceived as Lennox’s biggest threat at the time. So in Lewis’s last fight, although he didn’t look great doing it, he left boxing beating the fighter most thought was the biggest threat to his title reign in his final bout. And they were right because Vitali never lost another bout after fighting Lewis. The same would apply to Mayweather if he beat the young, strong and hungry Thurman in his last bout. It would be the perfect ending to Mayweather’s stellar and Hall-of-Fame career.
Tonight, WBA welterweight title holder Keith Thurman must overwhelm and destroy Luis Collazo so maybe he can be the topic of conversation in all boxing circles tomorrow. Everyone knows Thurman could never out-box or out think Mayweather. Thurman’s record and body of work indicate that he’s strong and can really punch. It’s also been a while since Floyd, if ever, fought a legitimate welterweight who was young and strong that was approaching his prime and could also really punch. If Thurman were to defeat Mayweather, it would most definitely be due to his power and because he was able to force Floyd to fight and didn’t afford him the luxury of controlling the action with his brains and boxing ability.
If Thurman wants to join the “who will Mayweather’s next opponent be” sweepstakes, he must convince the boxing world that he not only has the power to knock Mayweather off of his game, but he also has the necessary means to deliver it and apply it with Mayweather in front of him. Yes, it’s a tough sell, but not an impossible one. Manny Pacquiao built up the demand for a Mayweather fight with one sensational knockout over Ricky Hatton, and it resonated for six years.
Thurman recently said, “As soon as that man nicknamed himself ‘Money’ it’s apparent what his interest is. It’s money. Not legacy, not anything else man. He’s all about the money. He wants to throw out a name like Karim Mayfield man? Like you know what I’m saying? Look at his record, look what he’s done. And you want to say Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman isn’t ready?”
If Thurman is convincing enough against Collazo, the public demand and the money may be there for him to get a shot at the fighter who calls himself “Money.” The pressure is on Thurman to get the public to put the pressure on Mayweather to fight him.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com