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Kellerman talks Keith Thurman vs. Errol Spence

Errol Spence Jr Keith Thurman Max Kellerman


By Dan Ambrose: Max Kellerman of ESPN says he sees WBA Super World welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) as B+ fighter, and a notch below the likes of IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs), but he’s still not certain whether he would lose that fight. Like a lot of boxing fans, Kellerman wants to see those two face each other in order to find out who the better fighter is.

Kellerman’s high rating of Thurman looks shaky, however, given his recent poor performance in struggling to defeat 34-year-old journeyman Josesito ‘The Riverside Rocky’ Lopez (36-8, 19 KOs) in their fight last month on January 26 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Thurman looked like he was run over by a truck after the fight, as his face was badly bruised and lumped up. Thurman didn’t look like the winner of the fight in his appearance. Thurman was out on his feet in the 7th round after getting clipped by a huge left hook from Lopez. Thurman took a massive amount of hard shots while he was retreating on weak legs. The referee Steve Willis made a decision to let Thurman take the shots without stepping in to stop the fight. It’s questionable whether the same referee would have let a less popular fighter stay in the fight if he was hurt in the same way. Many referees would have stopped the fight.

“Thurman is a popular fighter. He connects. He has star power,” Kellerman said to Fighthype. “Secondly, Thurman is a very tough guy. Tim Bradley was like this, although he wasn’t the same type of fighter as Thurman. Tim Bradley was a B+ fighter, that was more than a B+ fighter, because he had something extra in him. Keith Thurman is that kind of guy. He’s a B+ guy, but he’s more than that, because he’s got something in him. Just like Kell Brook was the next thing before the top pound-for-pound fighters. How good could Kell Brook be? We saw. Thurman, to me, is that kind of guy. Can the whole of Thurman be more than the sum of his parts? If I asked you guys, who do you think wins, Thurman or Spence? Everyone thinks Spence. I think Spence too. Are we sure? Because Thurman is that kind of guy. Okay, we think Spence beats him, but I’d like to see it. When I talk Crawford, Spence and these kinds of guys, yes, I see and believe the same things that you guys do. But we also know that there have been examples in boxing history, where you take a guy for granted, and it turns out, no you can’t. It’s not just enough to say, ‘Thurman should fight one of these top guys, but we think he’s going to lose.’ I’m not sure. It’s like we really don’t know,” Kellerman said.

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It goes without saying that the boxing world doesn’t know what would happen to Thurman if he fought Spence. Until those two guys face each other, the only things the fans and the media can do is speculate, and go off of how they’ve looked in their recent fights. What we do know from watching Thurman fight the likes of Danny Garcia, Josesito Lopez, Shawn Porter, Luis Collazo, Robert Guerrero, Diego Chaves and Jesus Soto Karass is he didn’t look good in those fights. Lopez, Collazo, Chaves and Karass all had Thurman hurt. Guerrero was putting hands on Thurman when tried to stand in front of him in the first four rounds of their fight in 2016. Thurman had promised ahead of time that he would stand in the pocket against Guerrero for the first six rounds to prove that he could do it, but he changed his mind when he started getting the worst of it, and wound up with a big goose egg swelling on his forehead from a clash of heads. Thurman then went back to his hit and run style of fighting, and won a 12 round decision. Guerrero would likely be destroyed against Spence with the two of them fighting in the pocket. It wouldn’t be competitive. Thurman also had problems against Leonard Bundu in beating him by a 12 round decision in 2014. Spence fought Bundu two years later and knocked him out in the sixth round in 2016. That Bundu’s last fight.

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“I felt the same thing about Brook as I did Thurman for different reasons,” Kellerman said. “He’s more skillful than Thurman, but wasn’t as physically imposing as Thurman. To me, Brook is the next thing before you get to the special fighters, the athletically different fighters, and I think the same thing about Thurman. Brook proved me right. He was the next thing to the special fighters, but Thurman could prove me wrong,” Kellerman lectured.

Brook, 5’9″, is more physically imposing as the 5’7″ Thurman. It appears that Kellerman might not remember seeing Brook fight, or perhaps his vision of him is based on his fights with Spence and Gennady Golovkin. Brook is clearly more imposing as Thurman. Brook is capable of staying in the pocket without running from his opponents the way Thurman does. Brook has a couple of losses on his resume to GGG and Spence, but those are very good fighters. If Thurman had fought Spence and Golovkin, he likely would have been knocked out by them too. The fact that Thurman still hasn’t faced Spence after 12 years as a pro tells you a little something about ‘One Time.’ Spence has been trying to get Thurman to fight him since 2016, but he’s not been able to get him to agree to the fight. Thurman is now saying that the Spence fight could happen in 2020. But there’s no guarantee that Thurman will actually do that, as he could suffer another injury or get beaten. Thurman’s fight against Lopez arguably should have ended in the 7th round after he was hurt and out on his feet.

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“But did he get knocked out?” Kellerman said in defending Thurman’s poor performance against journeyman fighter Josesito Lopez last month on January 26. “He’s had some tough, close fights, but who was the winner in those fights? So, yes, I like Spence against Thurman. I’d like to see it,” Kellerman said.

No, Thurman didn’t get knocked out by Lopez, but he likely would have if he wasn’t as popular as he is. Kellerman isn’t addressing this, but it’s not a good thing that Thurman is getting badly hurt by a journeyman fighter like Lopez. It makes you question his entire premise of Thurman being capable potentially of beating Spence. It doesn’t seem realistic. The boxing public still wants to see Thurman and Spence fight each other, but if “One Time’ continues to fight the way he did against Lopez, the interest in a Spence-Thurman fight is going to start dying off.

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