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Thurman: I’ll fight Spence when the time is right

By Sean Jones: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman says he’s not ready to fight a unification fight against IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence in 2018, because he’s coming from an injury and he’ll likely be ordered by the WBC to defend against his mandatory challenger Shawn Porter.

Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) says it won’t hurt Spence (22-0, 19 KOs) to get a few title defenses under his before the two of them face each other soon.

Thurman, 28, isn’t giving a date for when he will be ready to fight Spence in a unification match. He says he wants to fight Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia in rematches first. Thurman is also expected to take a tune-up fight against Jessie Vargas on April 14 in his next title defense. So, we’re looking at Thurman’s next 3 fights being against Vargas, Porter and Garcia. It’s unclear who Thurman will fight after those 3. It could be Spence or it could be someone else depending on how much longer he wants to let the fight marinate. It will also depend on Thurman’s injury status.

“Shawn Porter, I have a feeling he’s going to be mandated because he’s holding onto that mandated position,” said Thurman to Fighthub in explaining why he can’t fight Spence in 2018. “Because of my injury, the WBC, they’ve yet to mandate it. They might try and pressure me and mandate it,” said Thurman in continuing to give excuses why he can’t fight Spence.

Thurman’s excuse about the World Boxing Council potentially mandating that he fight Porter is a rather weak one for why he can’t fight Errol Spence. It’s common knowledge that unification fights are given preferential treatment to title defenses. If Thurman lets the WBC know that he wants to make a unification fight against a popular champion like Spence, it’s likely WBC will bend over backwards to allow that fight to happen. Spence would be the perfect fighter to hold the WBC belt, and you can bet the sanctioning body would like to have him as their new champion.

Unlike Thurman, Spence doesn’t suffer injuries left and right. Thurman has become a one-time per year fighter due to his injury problems in the last 2 years. If Spence gets a hold of the WBC title, the sanctioning body could count on him defending the belt at least 2 to 3 times per year, although his management has dropped the ball big time in 2017 by having him fight just 1 time against Kell Brook. In the past, Spence had always been kept busy. It was only this year that his management only scheduled one fight for him.

“He’s a tremendous fighter,” said Thurman about Spence. “It’ll happen, and we’ll definitely fight. I didn’t get here overnight. People can say what they want to say. I’m going to fight Shawn Porter. I’m going to rematch Danny Garcia. I won’t fight any of those guys right now. If I do have a mandatory right about the corner, it’s going to push everything back. I know boxing. I know how the business works. As much as I respect Errol Spence, he’s still a young, fresh champion. It’s not going to hurt him by having a few title defenses and me getting back in the ring, doing what I have to do before we see each other. If he’s that dude, he’s going to keep his ‘O’, and I’m going to keep my ‘O’, and we’re going to see each other sooner or later. We’re going to see each other eventually down the line,” said Thurman.

With the way Thurman is barely winning his fights nowadays, the chances of him and Spence meeting up with both of them unbeaten is slim. Spence will likely be unbeaten, but I can’t say the same thing about Thurman. He’s not going to be undefeated at this rate. He didn’t look good against Porter and Danny Garcia in winning close decisions, and he’s getting fat in between fights.

Fighting only once a year, it’s given Thurman a lot of time to sit around and eat. He’s gotten big in between fights. He’s not like Spence, who trains all the time and doesn’t let himself get fat in between fights. Thurman lets himself go physically and gets quite big. That kind of stuff catches up with a fighter eventually. Thurman can’t let himself go the way Ricky Hatton used to, and expect that it won’t hurt him at some point down the line.

I know Errol Spence has never fought a fighter like me. I’m unique and I’m versatile in the ring,” said Thurman.

Spence has fought someone like Thurman. He fought Russian Andrey Zamkovoy in the 2012 Olympics, and he had a similar style as Thurman. Spence fought Serik Sapiyev from Kazakhstan in 2011 and 2012 while in the amateur ranks. He had a similar style as Thurman. Those guys were fighting all the time, and obviously weren’t letting themselves get fat in between fights the way Thurman does. They weren’t injury prone either the way Thurman has become as he’s nearing 30. Thurman is starting to fall apart physically as he’s getting older.

“Of course, how can it not be bigger,” said Thurman when asked if the Spence fight will get bigger if they wait and let it marinate. “If his name is bigger and my name is bigger, and we negotiate a contract, it’s automatically bigger. There’s no Keith Thurman-Mayweather. There’s no Keith Thurman-Pacquiao. So, if EJ [Errol Spence] is going to be my big fight, then it’s going to be my big fight. It’ll happen at a good time. It’ll most likely happen on my time. I’m coming off an injury. I’m going to become more popular. This is going to be a big fight, but it’s going to happen at the right time, not this time, because this time is not right,” said Thurman.

If Thurman was healthy, staying in shape, fighting 2 to 3 times per year, I’d say it’s a good thing that he wants to let the Spence fight marinate and grow into a huge mega-fight. But in Thurman’s case, he’s weight problems and he’s breaking down physically. It’s only a matter of time before he gets beaten by the likes of Porter, Garcia or even Vargas.

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