LOS ANGELES-Looking like a 21st century “Superfly” with his ponytail dangling and hop to the skip walk, Keith “One Time” Thurman arrived in the Golden State a day earlier and took a look around L.A. for the first time.
If any of the crew from the 70s blaxploitation film happened to run into Thurman they might have mistaken him for the late Ron O’Neal who starred in the 1972 film. Thurman really resembles him.
Thurman is making his California debut and meets Julio Diaz on Saturday April 26, at the StubHub Center in Carson. The two welterweights were joined by Lucas Matthysse, John Molina, Antonio Orozco and others at the Westside Boxing Gym in West L.A on Wednesday.
No true world titles will be rewarded unless you count interim titles. But the Richter scale will be tested when the fight card commences with this group of prizefighters. Each one knows what to expect and they like it.
“You better bring your big boy pants to this kind of fight,” said Molina, who loves that he’s fighting Argentina’s Matthysse. “There’s no hesitation from me for this kind of fight. You know my defense is my offense.”
Molina likes that Matthysse is a hitter and not a runner. He expects to find the Argentine slugger right in front.
“Real fighters don’t pick and choose. It’s a matter of who we are and I’m comfortable with myself,” Molina said.
Meanwhile, Thurman was in the boxing ring shadow boxing for the photographers and bored with just miming punches.
“I don’t know what he’s (Diaz) been doing for eight weeks. But he didn’t prepare for this,” said Thurman as he fired five quick right hand punches in the air. “I don’t think he’ll get up from that…please don’t get popcorn, you might miss the fight.”
After finishing up his shadow boxing, Thurman spoke about what to expect from Coachella’s Diaz.
“I expect to get a boxer who is more intelligent,” said Thurman. “I believe my youth, and athleticism will be too much for him to handle.”
Diaz had been standing in a far corner with some reporters and taking photos. A few years ago many observers felt the former lightweight world champion had seen better days and was far past his prime. Then he moved up to welterweight and suddenly found added strength, power and stamina.
“I stayed too long at lightweight,” said Diaz, who fought for more than a decade at 135 pounds. “I was getting wobbled by amateurs in sparring. I was too weak.”
The move up in weight seemed to increase his strength. He fought current IBF welterweight titlist Shawn Porter to a draw and then lost a decision. Diaz also battled Amir Khan and floored the speedy champion and lost a close match that many felt he won.
“Look at what Shawn Porter is doing, he’s knocking people out,” Diaz said. “He didn’t knock me out.”
Diaz expects to find a fighter who is in love with his own power. He doesn’t mind that he’s been fighting the best welterweights.
“Go big or go home” says Diaz. “I have veteran experience. I haven’t been beaten up. I’m still performing at this high level.”
The whole entire card will be at a high level.
On the other side of the gym Thurman talked to photographers and said he didn’t know where Hollywood was located. No matter, he’s there for business.
“I’m a box smart. I’m a look for openings and I’m a take them and see what Julio brings to the fight,” Thurman said. “Don’t blink.”
Showtime will televise the Golden Boy Promotions fight card.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV