By Sean Jones: Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) is stuck waiting on a unification fight against WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) that hasn’t happened due to the reluctance of ‘One Time’ to face him.
Spence, 27, is considered the best fighter in the 147lb division today by a lot of boxing fans. Spence’s management hasn’t put in a unification fight yet, which is probably the only reason he’s not a 2-belt champion like Thurman is.
Spence will be defending his IBF welterweight belt this month against Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) on January 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. After that fight is done with, it’s up to Spence’s adviser Al Haymon which direction to take him in. Amir Khan would be an option. He mentioned this week that he’d be up for a fight against Spence.
Spence says Thurman is his “dream fight” and that he’s wanted to fight him since he was 15-0. Thurman has been dragging his feet for the last several years, fighting guys like Luis Collazo, Danny Garcia, Robert Guerrero, Leonard Bundu and Shawn Porter. The 28-year-old Thurman is expected to face former 2 division world champion Jessie Vargas on April 16 on Premier Boxing champions on Showtime.
Thurman has 2 other fights in 2018 that he wants to take care of after that against his WBC mandatory Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Thurman says at the earliest, a fight against Spence will take place in 2019. However, there’s no guarantees being given by Thurman. Spence could wind up waiting even longer for Thurman to finally agree to fight him. Unification fights come first. Thurman could fight Spence anytime he wants in 2018. The rematches against Porter and Danny Garcia don’t need to happen right away. They can wait until after Thurman faces Spence. Of course, if Thurman doesn’t want to fight Spence, then that’s a different story.
“Right now I’m trying to get a fight in before Keith Thurman,” said Spence to skysports.com. ”I’m not going to wait that long. Even when I was 15 and 0, I was asking for that fight. It’s a fight I’ve wanted for a long time and that’s my dream fight right now,” said Spence.
Thurman has been making excuses for the last 3 years why a fight between him and Spence can’t take place. It’s very likely by the time Thurman is ready to fight Spence, he’ll no longer be a world champion and will need him to give him a title shot. Thurman is breaking physically and starting to show signs of wear and tear from the sport. There are some fighters that can handle the grueling aspects of boxing, but then there are others that start to tear down as they near their 30s.
Thurman just turned 29 on November 9, and he’s not the young guy that he was before. 29 for some guys is like 40. Personally speaking, I come from a track background. I was a sprinter in college. I remember seeing some guys that started to age when they were in their 20s, and suffer injuries left and right the way Thurman is doing now. If Thurman is going to keep suffering injuries, it’s only a matter of time when one of those injuries occurs during a fight, and he’ll end up losing.
The best thing Spence can do is put Thurman out of his mind, as that fight is not going to happen in 2018, and it might not happen in 2019 either. Thurman has already been making excuses for 3 years for why he can’t fight Spence. Coming events cast their shadows before. Spence should assume that Thurman will stay on message and continue to make excuses why he doesn’t need to fight Spence. One of these days, Thurman will decide it’s time to take the fight with Spence. All we can hope for is that he finally does it while he’s still unbeaten and a world champion. It would be sad news if Thurman is a broken down fighter in need of an opportunity from Spence by the time he decides that he really wants to fight him. Spence would then be in the position to decide whether he wants to throw a bone to Thurman or not. Thurman didn’t give Spence a world title shot when he was asking for one, so I don’t see why he would do him a good turn if he’s needy after coming off a loss or two. Thurman is not aging well.
Thurman thinks Peterson has a real chance of beating Spence on January 20. You have to wonder whether that’s wishful thinking on Thurman’s part or whether he really believes the 33-year-old Peterson has a chance.
”Some people say [Leonard] Bundu landed some shots,” said Thurman to Fighthub. ”I think Lamont should be able to take some of his skills and land. It’s just going to come down to who’s the smart boxer, and who really wants.”
The way Thurman talks, he seems to see the Spence-Peterson fight as a toss-up rather than it being a stay busy fight for Spence. Peterson’s losses to Lucas Matthysse and Danny Garcia suggest that he’s not going to do well against Spence on January 20th unless he gets lucky and lands the perfect shot.