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Thurman says he won’t be controlled by the fans telling him who to fight

Errol Spence Jr Keith Thurman Shawn Porter

By Allan Fox: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman says he doesn’t know when he’s going to fight IBF welterweight champion Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence Jr. in a unification match. He says he’s not going to be controlled by the spectators telling him who he should or shouldn’t fight.

In Thurman’s view, the unification fight with Spence should be a lot bigger before he eventually takes the fight. Thurman says he knows it’ll be a lot bigger in the future once Spence gets more title defenses under his belt. Thurman states that Spence just one his IBF title and he’s made only 1 title defense. What Thurman, 28, doesn’t say is he’s only made 3 defenses of his WBA title, and he’s had 1 unification fight against Danny Garcia. Thurman is not that far head of Spence when it comes to title defenses.

“I know I’m going to hold this division down,” Thurman told the media on Saturday. “I’m getting a lot of heat from everybody, from the media, from the fighters, and from the challengers. Like I said, I’m here for a reason, not a short season. I beat him 1 time. I can beat him 2 times,” Thurman said about Shawn Porter. “I can beat him in different forms and different fashions.”

If Thurman doesn’t want to receive flak from the boxing fans, then he can always isolate himself or tell the media that he will not ever give interviews. If Thurman closes himself off from being asked questions, then he doesn’t need to hear all the questions from the media about why he’s ducking Errol Spence.

Thurman is getting a lot of heat from boxing and fighters is because he’s only been fighting only 1 time per year for the past 2 years, and the sanctioning bodies have allowed him to do this. Thurman fought 1 time in 2016 and 1 time in 2017. Thurman has been out of the ring for the last 11 months and he doesn’t have a fight scheduled until May 19th, which means he’ll have been out of the ring for 14 months when he does fight.

Thurman says he wants his first fight back to be a tune-up fight. He recently said he wanted both of his fights in 2018 to be against contenders ranked 5 to beyond 10, which means Thurman wants 2 tune-ups, not just 1, because the fighters ranked from 5 and downwards aren’t great fighters. Naturally, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia aren’t happy about it. Porter is more upset than Garcia, who picked up a nice $1.2 million pay check to fight over-the-hill Brandon Rios last Saturday night. If Garcia can keep getting paydays fighting shot fighters like Rios, then there’s no rush for him to fight Thurman again.

“Just A,” Thurman said in saying he wants just 1 tune-up in 2018, not 2 tune-ups. “I don’t have a Floyd Mayweather. I don’t have a Manny Pacquiao. I have Bud Crawford, and I got Errol Spence. Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia unified the titles. That was a big mega-fight. When I fight Errol Spence, this will be a unification fight with 3 titles on the line. It needs to be fully recognized. He just got his first title. He just got his first title defense,” Thurman said.

Thurman doesn’t quite understand that he’s still not won enough fights against quality opposition yet for a fight between him and Spence to build into a bigger match like the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao mega-fight in 2015. Mayweather and Pacquiao had been fighting top guys for years before they eventually fought each other. They weren’t sidestepping their opposition the way Thurman is doing now with Porter and Spence.

Thurman doesn’t understand that to get to where Mayweather and Pacquiao were in their careers, he needs to be fighting top fighters now. Later on once Thurman becomes a big star, then it makes sense for him to let a fight against another star marinate. Thurman isn’t at that level. He hasn’t put in the time in grade yet. He’s fighting only once a year, and he’s barely beating guys like Porter and Danny Garcia. Mayweather were dominating their opposition during their best years. To build a huge fan base, Thurman needs to fight Spence, Porter, Danny Garcia, Terence Crawford, Jeff Horn and fighters from other weight classes. Thurman can’t be let important fights marinate that would help his career if he took them now. Look at it like this. If Thurman fights Spence and defeats him, then they can face each other 2 more times and become big stars. That’s how you do it.

Mayweather didn’t start fighting once a year until he became a big star after he fought Ricky Hatton. Thurman isn’t at that level, so he needs to be fighting all the time and against the best fighters each time around. That means no tune-ups against bottom feeders like the one Thurman intends on fighting on May 19th and it means no more soft fights. Thurman thinks he can let the fight with Spence marinate over years, and that’s not a wise move, because he needs that fight to become a star. If Thurman beats Spence, he’ll increase his popularity and start heading towards PPV status, but that’s never going to happen if he keeps talking of wanting to let the fight marinate. It can’t marinate if Thurman is using 2018 as a “get back year” in which he takes on weaker opposition because he’s coming off of a shoulder injury.

”Boxing is a different sport,” Thurman said. ”Champions don’t just normally fight the champions. You can want to do a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. There will be other unification bouts. I don’t know when. People are mad at me for not knowing my future. It’s awkward when people calling you out and you know you’re on the bench. You ain’t in action right now. I am the champion. Boxing is not controlled by the spectators,” Thurman said.

Champions do fight champions in boxing. Thurman is wrong. Look at the heavyweight division. Anthony Joshua is unifying the division. We’re seeing the same thing going on at super middleweight. Terence Crawford unified the 140 lb. weight class last year. When you do have a situation where a champion isn’t unifying a division, it’s often when you have a weak champion that lacks the confidence or his promoters lack the confidence that he’s good enough to fight the other champions. That might be the case with Thurman.

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