Keith Thurman vs. Jessie Vargas on April 14
By Tim Royner: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) will be back from his elbow injury on April 14 to defend his titles against former 2 division world champion Jessie ‘Ruthless’ Vargas (28-2, 10 KOs) at a still to be determined venue. Vargas and Thurman are both managed by Al Haymon, so this fight is an easy one to make.
#4 WBC Vargas will be a voluntary defense for Thurman, who is coming off a tough 12 round split decision victory over former WBC 147 lb. champion Danny Garcia earlier this year on March 4. Thurman, 28, had been dealing with an elbow problem before that fight, but Garcia’s led to more damage. Not long after the fight, Thurman had right elbow surgery to repair the injury. He’s been out ever since.
The only fight for Thurman in 2017 was the Danny Garcia fight. Thurman also only fought once in 2016 in a close win over Shawn Porter. Thurman was involved in a car accident last year, and that kept out of action for a while as well. Thurman has been suffering injuries off and on since 2014. He had a bad shoulder injury that kept him out of the ring for a spell.
Thurman isn’t going to call his fight against Vargas a tune-up fight, but that’s pretty much what it is. Vargas, 28, was out of the ring for 13 months until making a comeback this month in beating journeyman Aaron Herrera by a 10 round unanimous decision.
Vargas did not look that good in that fight. Vargas beat Herrera without any problems, but he looked slow of hand and not particularly powerful. Vargas would be a big step down for Thurman from his last fight against Danny Garcia. But that’s probably the only reason Thurman is taking the fight. He’s not looking for a tough challenge in his first fight back.
Thurman says he wants to fight Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia in rematches. Both of those fights could take place in 2018 if Thurman doesn’t break down again. Thurman says he thinks he can fight 3 times in 2018, but with his history of injury problems, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to fight that many times next year. The boxing fans are already making a joke of Thurman’s nickname ‘One Time’ by renaming him ‘One Time per year’. Moreover, Thurman also isn’t knocking guys out like he used to now that he’s fighting better opposition and dealing with injury problems. In the last 5 fights, Thurman has had only 1 knockout. Thurman’s nickname ‘One Time’ is going to have to change to ‘Sometimes.’
Vargas is a better fighter at 140 than he is at 147. He was briefly the WBO welterweight champion after beating Sadam Ali to win the belt last year, but he didn’t fight the quality welterweights for that title. Now that all the welterweight belts are held by good fighters, it’s hard to imagine Vargas ever winning another world title at 147. He’d be better off going back down to 140 if he can still make the weight.
If Thurman’s right elbow is 100 percent, he’s going to make easy work of Vargas. An over-the-hill Manny Pacquiao beat Vargas with ease last year. Tim Bradley did the same thing in beating Vargas easily in 2015. Bradley got careless and was slipped by a big right hand from Vargas in the 12th, but he survived the round and won an easy fight.