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Keith Thurman wants Manny Pacquiao rematch in 2020

Image: Keith Thurman wants Manny Pacquiao rematch in 2020

By Dan Ambrose: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman revealed that he had surgery on his right hand following his loss to Manny Pacquiao last July, but he expected to begin training in March and he’s hoping for a BIG year in 2020. The former WBA/WBC welterweight champion Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) has a number of big fights in mind besides a rematch with Pacquiao.

Thurman says he wants to fight Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Errol Spence Jr. in the near future. Just how soon he’ll be ready for those fights is unclear right now. He’s likely to take a tune-up when he returns to the ring in the first half of 2020, although he says he’d be willing to make a quick return for a rematch with Pacquiao.

Thurman says he plans on making a call to get the Pacquiao rematch happening, but he wants to make sure his surgically repaired right hand is healthy before he does. Keith narrowly lost to Pacquiao last summer by the scores 115-112, 115-112 for Pacquiao, and 114-113 for Thurman.

Thurman to begin training in March

“I just had hand surgery, and pretty soon I’ll be back in the ring,” said Thurman to Premier Boxing Champions podcast. “And I look forward to having a great 2020. I had two doctors assure me this will prolong my career, because this is a bone fusion. When bone heals, it usually heals stronger. So I’m hoping to return to the original Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman.

“I might be able to start touching things as soon as March,” said Thurman. “I’ll wait for the green light. I think all I need to do is strengthen from here on out. The fusion looks complete. Throughout the year, it’ll keep evolving, but what the doctor wants to see has already happened.

“It’s solid. I’ve done so much in my life,” said Thurman. “I’m not doing it as soon as possible. For once in my life, I’m not trying to do it as soon as possible. I’m still at the top of the ladder, but I was knocked down, and when you get knocked down, you end up looking up. Now that I’m looking up, and wanting to climb that ladder, it brings out the competitor in me,” said Thurman.

At 31, ‘One Time’ Thurman is still one of the best fighters in the 147 pound division without question, but he needs to get healthy. Thurman’s career has been derailed with injury problems since 2017, and he rushed back in taking on a two tough foes in Josesito Lopez and Pacquiao in 2019. Keith had been out of the ring for 2 years from 2017 to 2019 when he returned for the Lopez bout. He didn’t ease his way back the way he should have, and he cut corners.

Pacquiao rematch on Thurman’s target list for 2020

“That’s the best competitor, the one that has nothing, and is going for the gold,” said Thurman about being him being hungry. “I look forward to that, and I definitely have the fire in me. That’s why I want to approach it more long term, because as long as my hand is back, and I got five more years in the sport, then I want to be the original problem that I was in the welterweight division.

“I need to make that phone call in the near future,” said Thurman about wanting the rematch with Pacquiao. “If I was to ever get in the ring as soon as possible, only a rematch would make me excited enough to do that. Otherwise, I have a more long term approach about how I want to go about this year, and my future endeavors. But yeah, I would love that rematch [with Pacquiao], and I would like the opportunity to get my belt back.

“It was a tremendous fight, and I know the fans would tune in another time, and we can get more people to watch it, because it was such a tremendous event and outcome,” said Thurman on a rematch with Pacquiao. “So we’ll see. There hasn’t been a whole lot of news on the Pacquiao banner about what he’s going to execute. So I am interested in looking at what his 2020 schedule is, so we can line something up this year,” said Thurman.

Pacquiao has other ideas in mind for fights in 2020, and he might not be open to a rematch with Thurman just yet. Mikey Garcia and Danny Garcia are two fighters that are possibilities for 41-year-old Pacquiao. Additionally, Pacquiao wants to fight Errol Spence Jr., and those two could mix it up.

Pacquiao was breaking down says Thurman

“The only thing I could have done, other than what I did, was to come up with a better fight strategy, and actual game plan, and utilizing my footwork,” said Thurman. “It’s almost like Sugar Ray Leonard in the way he fought Roberto Duran the first time. He fought Duran’s fight. For me, I just wanted to go toe-to-toe with Pacquiao. I believed that if I put it on him, I would be able to get him to break down.

“I saw signs of him breaking down going into the later rounds,” Thurman said about Pacquiao. “It was such a tug of war match. He kept his hands up well. My coach always said, ‘Smart fighters win, and dumb fighters lose.’ I think he fought a smart performance, and he held up to the shots. Ultimately, he landed the right punches at the right time, and he was able to finesse that victory,” said Thurman.

Pacquiao looked like the stronger fighter in the championship rounds than Thurman did, and he hurt him with a body shot. If Thurman hadn’t gassed out in the second half of the fight, he probably would have won. Nevertheless, it was the same situation that we saw in Thurman’s fight with Danny Garcia. Thurman fought well in the first half against Garcia, and then faded in the second part of the fight.

Thurman did have his moments against Pacquiao throughout the fight, but he wasn’t able to keep up with the fast pace. The Filipino star had the better engine and he took over the fight and left Thurman looking tired.

Weight problems the reason for Thurman’s downfall

“All last year, I had weight issues, that ultimately was my downfall in the Pacquiao fight,” said Thurman.”Obviously, I don’t have problems when I make weight. I am making weight, but how am I doing about making weight. I had 11 week training camps, and for the Josesito Lopez fight, I lost 35 pounds in January. Then I blew back up to 182 lbs, and I had to lose 35 lbs in 11 weeks for the Pacquiao fight.

“So one thing I’ve learned in 2020 is for Keith Thurman to be his best, he cannot be 35 lbs overweight, which I currently still am,” Thurman continued. “A lot of people saw my fat belly on TV the other day, but mission for the beginning of the year is weight management. Fat boy season no more. Get skinny in 2020. We’re getting older now at 31. The body is not the same, and we know what we’re doing inside the ring.

It’s pretty obvious that Thurman has been letting his weight get out of control in between fights by not training, and eating too much. In between fights, Thurman looks swollen and in bad health, and doesn’t resemble a world class athlete.

In last week’s PBC on FOX episode, Thurman looked like he was close to 200 lbs. He’s so heavy that his face has become rounded like a ball. Taking off all that weight that Thurman has put on is going to be a nightmare for him, and he’s likely going to be weakened afterwards. Thurman is too old to be letting his weight get out of control in between fights, and he’s shortening his career by doing so.

Thurman wants to keep his weight under control

“We just need to take a better approach, you know?” Thurman said. “We know Manny Pacquiao didn’t have problems making weight. We need to take that Bernard Hopkins approach.

“We’ve got to be ready at all times,” said Thurman about his weight. “I see 3 to 5 great years for myself here in the sport of boxing, and then cruise into the sunset. Then walk around with a suit and tie,” said Thurman about retiring in 3 to 5 years,” Thurman said.

It’s easier said than done for Thurman to begin controlling his weight better, because he’s not been controlling it in between fights throughout his career In many ways, Thurman is doing what Ricky Hatton did in letting his weight get out of control between fights. Hatton could have arguably had a lot longer career if he’d managed his weight better. In Thurman’s case, he’s doing the same thing, and turning his training camps into fat farms.

Keith targeting Porter, Danny Garcia and Spence

“We have Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and then we also have a possible fight with Errol Spence Jr.” said Thurman in talking about big fights out there for him. “I’ve competed at the top, and I’ve come back from injuries many times. I just don’t see too much of a tune-up fight, because we have a fan base. Win, lose or true, when Thurman is in the ring, that’s the kind of fight that fans want to see. There’s skills, and movement, and we’re trading in the pocket.

“There’s explosiveness, I’ve always had that explosiveness since I was a teenager,” Thurman said in boasting about his offensive ability. “All the fans that approached me after the Pacquiao fight, they let me know my worth in the sport of boxing. No fan can calmly approach me now.

“They’re all ‘KEITH THURMAN’.’ The energy I’m getting from the fans,” said Thurman about fans loving him. “It just lets me know how much of a hot commodity I am in this sport in the sport of boxing. I know I have everything it takes to redeem myself at the top of the sport, and that’s what great champions do. They fall down only to rise up to the top again,” said Thurman.

It would be a good idea for Thurman to wait until 2021 before he fights the likes of Spence, Garcia or Porter. But that also depends on how Thurman manages his weight in 2020. If he starts training camp for a fight against those guys at 200 lbs, he’s not going to do well.

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