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Keith Thurman Can Bomb In the Ring, and Land Power Shots Outside, Too

BY Michael Woods ON April 23, 2014
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Much of the air in the room of the sport has been sucked up by the megastars Manny Pacquiao (who gloved up and beat Tim Bradley on April 12) and Floyd Mayweather (who takes on Marcos Maidana May 3 in Vegas) in the last six weeks or so. To the point that, other cards and other fighters who likely deserve more attention, and more media buzz, have suffered.

One such soul is Keith "One Time" Thurman, a 25-year-old Florida resident stepping into the ring, and looking to defend his WBA interim welterweight crown, on Saturday night in California.

First we all went ga-ga over Manny, and this week we've been starting to perk antennae to near max efficiency as we count down to Mayweather's first tangle of the year.

I wanted to rectify that, just a bit, and chat with the young gun who in the last year has started to have people talk about him as a pound for pound top 10 candidate. I wondered if he felt the same, that his Saturday scrap, topping a Golden Boy card, and a triple-header on Showtime, was under radar somewhat.

"My true opinion is," he said, pausing for effect, "I don't know and I don't care. My job is to step in that ring, and perform, and I will put on a great performance."

The buzz factor has also been limited by the choice of opposition; Julio Diaz is 40-9-1, 34-years-old, and coming off a draw, and two losses. He is excessively fortunate to be given this opportunity against two-fisted banger Thurman. "I was hoping for a bigger challenge," Thurman admitted. "But they gave me this test. It's a stay busy fight for me." He said that he is pleased in knowing the true die-hard fans will watch the tussle, which he termed "high risk, little reward." He noted that Diaz is likely to be fueled by the understanding that he NEEDS to win, or his window will close with a crash. "No, I don't believe he is in my league, and I believe I will outclass him."

Only a fool looks past the task in front of him; but it's not unwise to at least ponder the roads that might be taken further along the journey. Thurman told me he can easily say a road leading to Shawn Porter (24-0 with 15 KOs), the 26-year-old Ohio resident who defended his WBC welter title against Brooklyn's Paul Malignaggi on April 19, notching a TKO4. Thurman didn't go out of his way to shower Porter with praise, however. He told TSS that he thought Malignaggi turned in "one of the worst performances of his career. It was a bad boxing performance, for a guy who knows a lot about fighting. I think it has to do with ego, I think he underestimated Porter. He never had his hands up, for four rounds! He could've blocked those jumping left hooks." I thought Porter was simply too strong for Malignaggi and that the startegy might have been immaterial, because of the power edge, and told Thurman that concept. He continued, noting that Malignaggi was susceptible to power brokers when he fought at 140 pounds, and should really have used a different gameplan, should have run some more to lessen the number of shots he was eating. (Note: I reached out to Malignaggi, to get a response, and heard back. "It's fine, all fighters are allowed to have their opinion," Malignaggi told me. "Thurman is a young man, on some things he is ignorant, but he's got that youthful 'jump the gun' mentality, we all have it and we all go through it. I have my own opinions and I feel strongly about what happened on Saturday night, there's no need for the back and forth from me, however. I will leave it at Porter fought a good fight and was VERY well prepared to fight.")

"I know me and Porter are going to fight," Thurman continued. In fact, he knew that before anyone else brought up the idea, he said. Both are part of the class of 2008, Thurman said, and he's sparred with Porter previously. He said that the styles will work in his favor when he does tangle with Porter, because he has a higher caliber of firepower to draw on.

"I do respect his power," he said, "but I seem to find a way to land big punches" while Porter more so grinds you down. "At any given point, in any given round, I have the ability to put you down," Thurman stated. "And I would love to fight Shawn Porter. When we meet up, there will be only one remaining young, undefeated welterweight. It would be a terrific, fan friendly fight, and we'd see who is the cream of the crop. And the winner would deserve a shot at Mayweather. It could be 2015, or whenever. The longer Floyd stays in it, he will have to answer to one of these young dogs coming up."

I love the idea of a Thurman-Porter clash taking place, as an eliminator, with the winner to get a shot at the Mayweather lotto ticket. Thurman is down with that, he said. He expects to handle Porter when and if that pairing is made. And yes, he'd adore a shot at Floyd. He'd take it ASAP, or later.

"I'm ready now," he said. "I'll be more ready later. The older he gets, the more gray hairs he gets, and wrinkles on his forehead....I'm coming to my prime, he will be fading out of his. He can postpone it till his last hurrah if he wants."

Thurman noted, as have many on message boards, that Floyd has chosen, in his last five fights, a fighter of Puerto Rican extraction, a Puerto Rican, a Mexican-American, a Mexican, and now a Latino, Marcos Maidana of Argentina. "With all due respect, I love the sport," he said, "and I'm mixed, African-American and Caucasian, my mom is white, my father is black, whoever says that on a message board knows their Mayweather history. He's fought more Latinos than Africans or African-Americans." Thurman said Floyd is canny to attach his fights to Latino holidays, which helps insure good PPV numbers, from a marketing perspective, because Latinos tend to regard boxing higher on the sports food chain than most other racial/ethnic classes. Thurman noted that African-Americans, like Shane Mosley, and Zab Judah, and Chop Chop Corley, had more luck finding Mayweather than his recent opponents did, for whatever that's worth.

"Again, with all due respect, boxing is one of the most racial sports," he said. "It's almost always a Mexican vs. an American, a Puerto Rican versus a Mexican, a black versus a white, etc. Fighters are always representing their heritage. Basically, I'd like to see diversity in Mayweathers' choices," Thurman said, in wrapping up.

My take: Thurman is coming into his own in the ring, and finding his place outside, as a talker, as a fight seller, as a self-marketer. Or, more appropriately perhaps, WE are simply finding out in Thurman what has been there in front of us for a spell. Those megastars, and our perhaps excessive attention paid to them, maybe do a small disservice to the sport as a whole, because it means we don't spread the wealth of coverage and attention around like we should.

Readers, talk to me...how do you see Thurman's near-term arc playing out? What would Thurman-Porter look like? And is Thurman a stellar candidate to face Floyd, and would he have a decent chance to beat Mayweather?

Follow Woods on Twitter.

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Comment on this article

amayseng says:

This card looks better than the PPV card that follows it the next weekend.

Action and competitive wise that is.


I mean really, Broner vs Molina???

deepwater2 says:

This card looks better than the PPV card that follows it the next weekend.

Action and competitive wise that is.


I mean really, Broner vs Molina???


I agree for the most part. Collazo vs khan might be the most competitive.Lets check the bookies.
Thurman 16-1 fav.
Lucas 15-1 fav.
jeez
Mayweather 12-1 fav
Boner 30-1 fav.
Khan 3-1 fav.
The moral of the story is all these fights are non competitive except the Khan even though 3-1 isnt even.
At least with Thurman and Lucas they will probably put their opponents unconscious.
Showtime boxing, the home of house fighters having an advantage.

Skibbz says:

I agree for the most part. Collazo vs khan might be the most competitive.Lets check the bookies.
Thurman 16-1 fav.
Lucas 15-1 fav.
jeez
Mayweather 12-1 fav
Boner 30-1 fav.
Khan 3-1 fav.
The moral of the story is all these fights are non competitive except the Khan even though 3-1 isnt even.
At least with Thurman and Lucas they will probably put their opponents unconscious.
Showtime boxing, the home of house fighters having an advantage.


We must thank Al Haymon.

Still I'm glad to see Thurman and Lucas they'll make it a good night for sure even with the opponents their facing.

Thurman at 147 beats almost anyone in the division, and I think he gives Floyd his toughest fight out of anyone. I want to see that fight the most, because he can punch, he's fast, he's got good intuition, has good foot work. He's not the full cookie, but he's still young and hasn't reached his prime yet. I think Floyd will sidestep and stay clear of Thurman, as he does with any real challenger.

Radam G says:

We must thank Al Haymon.

Still I'm glad to see Thurman and Lucas they'll make it a good night for sure even with the opponents their facing.

Thurman at 147 beats almost anyone in the division, and I think he gives Floyd his toughest fight out of anyone. I want to see that fight the most, because he can punch, he's fast, he's got good intuition, has good foot work. He's not the full cookie, but he's still young and hasn't reached his prime yet. I think Floyd will sidestep and stay clear of Thurman, as he does with any real challenger.


There is no demand or money in fighting Thurman. I believe Money May easily destroy him. We are definitely on a different page about him. Holla!

amayseng says:

I think Porter will be Floyds toughest fight, from the GB stable that is.

Porter is like a tougher more violent JLC and at this age Floyd would be in a run for his money for 12 rounds.


However, Floyd wont take that challenge of course.

brownsugar says:

I like Thurman, He speaks with so much confidence, I wouldn't be surprised if he single handedly made the lisp something to be envied, like the way it became stylish to be overweight in the late 80's. (sadly I was forced to attend speech class in elementary to get rid of my own

Thurman is capable of moving, punching, or a combination of both for 3 minutes of every round until the final bell, Like Porter he has vision and goals, but unlike any other contenders with the exception of perhaps GGG, Kovalev, and the few I may have overlooked, Thurman calls out every single fighter in the division, None of that " I gotta check with my promoter " stuff. Thurman calls your name loud and with conviction on television and he means it.

Al Hay has the best welterweight stable in boxing. I only wish Bradley could get some of those challenges (Paq like Floyd will be matched with the older proven ICONs whenever possible until they retire shortly) Nonetheless, 147 has become interesting again.

oubobcat says:

I like Thurman, He speaks with so much confidence, I wouldn't be surprised if he single handedly made the lisp something to be envied, like the way it became stylish to be overweight in the late 80's. (sadly I was forced to attend speech class in elementary to get rid of my own

Thurman is capable of moving, punching, or a combination of both for 3 minutes of every round until the final bell, Like Porter he has vision and goals, but unlike any other contenders with the exception of perhaps GGG, Kovalev, and the few I may have overlooked, Thurman calls out every single fighter in the division, None of that " I gotta check with my promoter " stuff. Thurman calls your name loud and with conviction on television and he means it.

Al Hay has the best welterweight stable in boxing. I only wish Bradley could get some of those challenges (Paq like Floyd will be matched with the older proven ICONs whenever possible until they retire shortly) Nonetheless, 147 has become interesting again.


I agree, I like Thurman a lot. He is exciting and takes risks in the ring. He is also not afraid to call anyone out.

He is still a young fighter and as such I do wish he'd fight more often. He still has some developing to do inside the ring and needs to hone his skills. I am not really a fan of the Diaz fight in that I don't think Thurman is going to take a lot away from it. If he were fighting five or six times this year and this was a true stay busy fight, I'd have no issue. But he is not and I'd rather see him face someone who may push him a little and someone he can take something away from other than a quick blow out which is what I think will happen here.

deepwater2 says:

I have to respect Thurman. He deserves it from his work in the ring. He has grown on me. He doesn't look special but he has good basics, good power and heart. He will do what he is supposed to do in this fight and get the KO. I will DVR this fight. I think Floyd out skills him pretty easy though. Thurman vs R Guerrero ?

brownsugar says:

Would love that fight... Guerrero is skilled and determined...and stubborn. Hayman has no choice but to match his own fighters ...there is no other place to go.

oubobcat says:

I would love that fight as well. Guerrero is a very skilled fighter and would pose a unique challenge to Thurman. It would also be the right step at this point in Thurman's career. If he really wants to fight Floyd, lets see how he can fare against one of Floyd's recent challengers.

jzzy says:

Would love that fight... Guerrero is skilled and determined...and stubborn. Hayman has no choice but to match his own fighters ...there is no other place to go.


Keith Thurman is generating a lot of buzz and he has an opportunity this Saturday to make some more noise
and possibly join the Mayweather sweepstakes. Everybody loves a puncher.

Skibbz says:

Keith Thurman is generating a lot of buzz and he has an opportunity this Saturday to make some more noise
and possibly join the Mayweather sweepstakes. Everybody loves a puncher.


The thing with Thurman is that he was a puncher. Now he knows how to box. He's sparred a lot of everybody, been the full 12 and has serious power in both hands. Now he's learning how to pace out the 12 rounds instead of bursting 100 punches a round. He has great footwork and ring generalship. He fights as if it's a dark alley the entire ring but he does with unorthodox boxing. It's great to watch and he's constantly improving. If he goes the distance with Floyd I don't think there's anyone who could beat him at 147.

brownsugar says:

The thing with Thurman is that he was a puncher. Now he knows how to box. He's sparred a lot of everybody, been the full 12 and has serious power in both hands. Now he's learning how to pace out the 12 rounds instead of bursting 100 punches a round. He has great footwork and ring generalship. He fights as if it's a dark alley the entire ring but he does with unorthodox boxing. It's great to watch and he's constantly improving. If he goes the distance with Floyd I don't think there's anyone who could beat him at 147.


Couldn't have said it better... Looking forward to this weekend.

amayseng says:

Great weekend of boxing.

Thurman is improving in all areas and he does have the mentality that he cant be beat.

I think Porter is also on his way up as a top WW.

Both would push Floyd pretty well, Porter probably more so than Thurman due to his resilient mentality.

King Beef says:

Ever since that Diego Chavez fight, I think Thurman will be a major player @ 147. He made some nice adjustments in that fight when Chavez didn't go anywhere after some hard shots, and gave as good as he took. Gotta love how he seems willing to fight whoever.

oubobcat says:

I agree with Skibbz that Thurman was once just a puncher but has really developed his overall boxing skills. He is improving a lot with each fight and I have been enjoying watching his development.

Interesting about Thurman is that he had a fight with Maidana scheduled in July 2012 on the undercard of Broner-Escobedo. Thurman was still very raw at that point and that fight ended up falling apart. Thurman then ended up fighting Orlando Lora on the undercard and took care of business relatively easily.

What if the Maidana fight had gone through? Personally, I feel at that time Thurman would not have been ready and his career may be in an entirely different place than it is today. Its something interesting to think about as we watch his career develop.

Skibbz says:

Couldn't have said it better... Looking forward to this weekend.


Cheers Suges, who you got picked for tonight?


@oubob Thurman was a serious prospect in 2012, but the most important thing for his boxing career in 2014 is learning to pace out the full 12.

It's good to knock out the cabbies and window cleaners because you're not going to learn a great deal from them. But if you go through your first 25-30 by blitzing ko's before 2-3 then the first time you get taken the full distance you'll be deep in where you're not used. He's gone the full 12 now, but once isn't enough.

Diaz has gone the distance with some really good boxers lately and although I don't see him having a real chance, he has solid experience and can win rounds if you're not ready to hustle. The thing I want to see from Thurman tonight is working his way toward a late round stoppage. It'll be really nice to see him set up a peach over a few rounds. I don't think we'll see an early stoppage because Diaz is too experienced and I don't think Thurman will be looking for it so soon, why should he? His ring generalship, footwork and tasty combos can open up the spots for him to exploit as the rounds progress.

Thurman Broner is one I really want to see.. Good way for Broner to prove he's serious about 147..

Carmine Cas says:

You guys make great points, but I agree with RG on this one; Floyd would knock him out or beat him badly. I believe the hype of "One Time" to a certain degree, he's a work in progress.

If you notice in the Soto Karass fight he gets away with a lot of mistakes:

At many times he would push his jab instead of stepping in with it with his body weight behind it.

He also drops his right hand at times when jabbing, inviting left hooks

When Karass threw wild punches, including the looping right hand Keith would drop his hands and lean his torso back without actually moving backwards; leaving himself off balance and open to more punches (he was lucky Karass placed himself out of punching position after he winged the wild right overhand right or left hook)

When he was punching with Karass up close he was throwing the left and right hook from his hip and chest leaving himself open to counters

Furthermore after he throw the preceding punches he was a sitting duck with his hands down and chin exposed.

I think those were most of the mistakes he needs to work on. Don't get me wrong Thurman can fight and box but he got away with a lot those mistakes because of combination of his natural talent and also Karass lack of it. If he fights a Mayweather, his flaws will be taken advantage.

The good news is Thurman is a work in progress and seems to better each time he steps in the ring. I enjoy watching him and I hope develops into an elite fighter.

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