Keith Thurman just telling it like it is
By Gav Duthie: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman 28-0 (22) is getting quite a tough time from all angles right now. Errol Spence is calling him out on his reluctance to fight him with the fans and media buying into the same theory. Thurman has pretty much ruled out fighting Spence in 2018. Understandably the fans always want the big fights yesterday, but this isn’t always possible.
Thurman has made plenty of excuses which will be explained but my opinion is that ‘One Time’ is just telling it like it is. He doesn’t make up the politics in boxing. He is letting the fans know exactly why it won’t happen right now and I find it refreshing. Usually post fight the winner always calls out the biggest, baddest guy in the division and its the job of people like me to tell you why that won’t happen. Thurman is doing that job for me and it is great to see a boxer telling the fans the truth. Will Thurman and Spence fight, yes, but all in good time.
The excuses = the truth
Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence is clearly improving his brand by calling out Thurman. The fight is quite far away. Thurman pointed out in recent interviews about the mandatory situations. Thurman has two titles (WBC/WBA) and Spence (IBF). The more titles there are at stake the harder it is generally to unify. Thurman is only recently the WBC champion (0 defenses) and Spence has made 1 voluntary defense of his IBF title. Thurman pointed out that Spence hadn’t yet faced a mandatory. Former champion made 4 defenses. Jo Jo Dan, Frankie Gavin, Kevin Bizier and Spence with 3 of them being mandatories including his exception to fight Golovkin. The IBF are the strictest organization for fighting mandatories. Thurman was proved right as only 3 days after Spence dominated Lamont Peterson the IBF ordered a fight between Spence and new mandatory little-known Carlos Ocampo 22-0 (13). Ocampo was expecting to fight a final eliminator against Konstantin Ponomarev 32-0 (13). He said it would have been a valuable learning experience so even he probably thinks he isn’t ready for Spence. Ponomarev had some team issues so pulled out but the IBF didn’t bother looking for a new opponent, they have just elevated Ocampo from #3 to mandatory just like that. That fight could take place in June so that is half the year gone already.
Keith Thurman has his own agenda for 2018 but he hasn’t necessarily set it. He has been out injured for quite some time now so obviously he doesn’t want to come back to another unification bout after Danny Garcia. Shawn Porter has been made mandatory challenger with the WBC since his wins over Andre Berto and Adrian Granados. This would mean a possible rematch later in the year between Thurman and Porter. Thurman is looking to get back in May with his opponent rumored to be former two weight world champion Jessie Vargas. That for me is quite a good fight after more than a year out. So, in 2018 if Thurman was to fight Vargas and Porter would that really be that bad a year?
Then there is the WBA. Lucas Matthysse 38-4 (35) and Tewa Kiram 38-0 (28) fight for the vacant WBA regular title tonight. The WBA regular title is basically another name for mandatory challenger to the Super champion. This means likely Thurman could be mandated to fight Matthysse assuming he wins. The WBA have made it clear that they wish to limit their number of champions, so I think in time they will abandon the regular championship. In short Thurman is likely to fight Vargas, Porter and Matthysse before he can consider Spence.
In summary I am sure we will see Thurman/Spence at some point. These fights take time to build and the longer we wait the more we want it. It’s good that a fighter like Thurman is telling us what the situation really is in the sport but I’m glad it still takes keyboard warriors like myself to help defend his position.