He auditioned for his big fight opportunity this past Saturday night and his flawed showing was perfect if his goal is to be Floyd Mayweather’s next opponent this coming fall.
Yes, I’m talking about WBA welterweight title holder Keith Thurman 26-0 (22). Thurman before the fight lobbied in the media that he has the best credentials and deserves the next shot at Floyd.
However, we know Mayweather doesn’t roll like that. With Floyd it always hinges on, who can the best story be built around and who looks good on paper….who really has no chance to win, but at the same time is credentialed enough to warrant a big purse.
And based on Thurman’s seventh round stoppage of Luis Collazo 36-7 (19), he just may have pulled it off. For five of the seven rounds the fight went before Collazo said he couldn’t see due to a right eye cut, Thurman got the better of it. He showed he could fight in retreat and with his back to the ropes, and also possessed the legs to carry him away from Collazo’s two or three offensive spurts.
Thurman fought as a counter-puncher for a majority of the bout. His quicker hands and better balance enabled him to pot shot Collazo, who was attempting to force the fight. Luis was getting peppered pretty good from time to time, but aside from the cut was never terribly hurt or in trouble. Granted, Collazo is a pretty good catcher – but I expected Thurman to hurt him a little more than he did, especially since Collazo was moving straight in and getting hit clean. Yes, Thurman can boast that he’s just the second fighter to stop Collazo. However, I doubt anyone is looking at Thurman as possibly being the new Thomas Hearns when it comes to welterweight punching power….and if anyone thinks so, they’re wrong.
It’s a pretty safe bet to assume Thurman is overrated as a puncher, but he’s still a relatively big fish in a small pond, in spite of the fact that many good fighters campaign today in between 140-147. His showing against Collazo certainly didn’t raise his stock – but he’s still probably viewed as one of the most dangerous fighters in the welterweight division.
That said, there’s two reasons as to why he would be Mayweather’s perfect opponent this fall……
For starters, he has a big knockout record and he’s undefeated. But in truth, he’s not nearly as dangerous in regards to punching power as one might glean from his record. Also, it’s doubtful that Thurman would touch base often enough with Floyd’s chin to swing the fight in his favor. Mayweather has a dependable chin and is hard to hit clean, and Thurman’s accuracy and delivery system are not special by any means.
In addition to all that, the style matchup is perfect for Mayweather and a nightmare for Thurman. Floyd, if confronted by Thurman, would force Keith to push the action and fight as the attacker. Which in turn would have Mayweather assume his role fighting as a counter-puncher, which is Floyd at his best. He would see every bomb that Thurman tried to send his way. He would not only evade an overwhelming majority of them, but he’d counter Thurman and score when he was most vulnerable and control the fight from start to finish and win it going away.
It was said in this space before the bout that Thurman and Gennady Golovkin are the most feared fighters in their respective divisions. Thurman hasn’t proved that he’s better pound for pound than GGG, but he is more versatile and both benefit fighting in a soft era, in spite of the fact that the welterweight division is a tougher block than today’s middleweight division. It was also said here that in order for the fans to put the pressure on Mayweather to fight Thurman, Keith had to shine and look spectacular against Collazo. Well he didn’t, and today nobody is calling for Mayweather to fight Thurman in his next bout.
And that’s exactly why in hindsight Thurman’s showing against Collazo may have been perfect in terms of him securing a fight with Mayweather. Thurman still holds a world title and is ranked near the top of the welterweight division. He’s still undefeated and has an over 80% knockout ratio. Thurman is young, 26 years old, and approaching his prime. And best of all, the fight is sell-able and Mayweather knows Thurman doesn’t have the style, power or experience to beat him.
In hindsight, Thurman did just what he needed to in order to join in the mix of ‘who will Mayweather fight next?’ Floyd doesn’t care about the fans or what they want. He only cares about whether or not he can con them into parting with some of their disposable income enough to buy his next PPV workout. Thurman may not stand a chance, but Mayweather will be able to sell and hype the fight, if that is his desire.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com