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Keith Thurman to Manny Pacquiao: GIVE me a rematch

Keith Thurman

By Chris Williams: Keith Thurman wants his WBA welterweight title back from Manny Pacquiao, and he’s counting on him giving him a rematch when boxing restarts. Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) narrowly beat Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) by a 12 round split decision last July in a fight that could have done either way.

Pacquiao hasn’t said who he plans on fighting next. We heard Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing say that Terence Crawford and Pacquiao is a possibility, but that’s not happening. If Pacquiao fights in the second half of 2020, it won’t be against Crawford.

Thurman wasn’t at his best for that fight because his left hand was injured, and he couldn’t throw it with full power. In the past, Thurman’s left hook was his bread and butter punch that he used to win his fights. But ever since he injured it a couple of years ago, he’s not been able to throw with full strength with that hand.

Thurman recently had surgery to fix the problem, and he’s still coming back from it. He should be 100% healthy by the time he steps foot back in the ring this year.

Thurman says he’s willing to fight behind closed doors, but obviously that wouldn’t be the situation if he faces Pacquiao in a rematch. It’s too big of a fight for it to be behind closed doors.

Keith Thurman

Injury problems plagued Keith in 2019

“If you look back at the Josesito Lopez fight, I didn’t drop a lot of power on him,” said Thurman to ESPN. “I was committed to just outboxing him and winning. I didn’t expect to knock him down when I check-hooked him. In the seventh round, he caught me, and I showed my grit the way I always do.

“I was putting a lot of jabs on the tip of his nose, and jabbing a lot more. I was throwing the one-two a lot more, and I wasn’t throwing the hook a lot. In the Pacquiao fight, when I reflected on it, I didn’t let the led took go.

“It was really hard for me, even though I loved the punch a lot, and I relied on it so much in my career. That was a punch throughout the training camp for the Josesito Lopez fight and the Pacquiao fight; I was hurting myself on my sparring partners when I would land a nice left hook.

“It’s not good knowing your best means you might hurt yourself trying to hurt this guy. It’s not easy to hold your hand over the fire. Most people can’t hold their hand over the fire, and that’s what I felt like 2019 was for me,” said Thurman.

In hindsight, Thurman should have waited before fighting Pacquiao, but he says he was afraid he wouldn’t get another opportunity if he said no to the fight.

What Thurman should have done is have hand surgery before he fought Josesito Lopez in January of last year. If Thurman had surgery early in 2019, he would have been ready to fight with full power by now.

Thurman with a lot of options

“I’m looking forward to being back in good health and dominating the welterweight division,” said Thurman. “I’m still arguably the best welterweight in the world. I’ll come out on top.

“If you put me in with any of the top welterweights in the world, and I still believe I’m in the running. Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is NOT done, that’s for sure.

“Give me a fight and give me the opportunity to be a challenger for any one of those titles,” said Thurman when asked about his thoughts on challenging the 147-pound champions Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. “I’m a two-time champion of the world, and I know what it’s like NOT to be champion of the world, and currently, I’m not that.

“Here we are. I’m just going to do what I was doing before, which is making myself relevant in the ring. Staying at the top, and once you’re staying at the top, and I’m feeling comfortable, I’ll be name-dropping. I’ll be, ‘Hey, where’s the contract? Can I get a fight? What title? Who really wants it?’

“To me, all the champions are great action. Thurman-Crawford, Thurman-Spence, Thurman-Pacquiao 2. That’s all tremendous action right there. Then I’ve got rematches with Danny Garcia, I’ve got rematches with Shawn Porter.

“You’ve got fighters like [Yordenis] Ugas out there that I’ve never been in the ring with, and you’ve got a Mikey Garcia.

People talk about an Adrien Broner. We got a jam-packed division, and I believe there’s always something out there that I can put together, not only for myself but for the people to love, enjoy, and respect,” said Thurman.

The options for Thurman’s next fight IF he doesn’t get the Pacquiao rematch:

  • Danny Garcia
  • Adrien Broner
  • Shawn Porter
  • Yordenis Ugas
  • Mikey Garcia

Keith Thurman

Manny barely won

“It was a close one,” said Thurman about his loss to Pacquiao last July. “It’s easier to beat yourself up over a close loss than a real loss. If you beat me, you beat me in my face, and it’s not an easy task to do.

“Still, by the small margin that Manny Pacquiao got it by, it was still no easy task. There will never be a day where defeating Keith Thurman will be an easy task. I know what it’s like to compete, and I know what it’s like to lose. And I lost in the amateurs.

“I still believe it’s a little premature. I wasn’t ready to lose. It doesn’t mean I wanted to let it go. There’s a difference in my mentality. It means I’m a man. If you beat me, then I take my hat off to you. I respect you, and I’ll give you those nice compliments that I gave Pacquiao after the fight.

“The fighters that I’ve defeated and the fighters that I’ve knocked out, if I’ve shared one minute in the ring with you, you’ve most likely gotten the respect of Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman.

Boxing is one of those types of sports where once they step inside the ring with you and they’ve signed that contract, they train for it. The fact that they even tried to, it’s honorable. It’s a tough sport of boxing,” said Thurman.

Pacquiao got lucky with him knocking Thurman down in round one and then hurting him with a body shot in the 10th. If you take those two instances away, Thurman probably wins the fight.

Thurman wants his belt back from Pacquiao

“I want my belt back, and then I want the Spence fight because ultimately, I saw a big clash between Spence and me leading into a year like 2020,” said Thurman when asked who does he want to fight next among the champions. “I always saw a big fight happening.

“We were both undefeated champions of the world, and I thought that’s how I was going to be introduced to Errol Spence as an undefeated welterweight champion. Him having tough titles, we would unify the welterweight division with our match-ups.

“So deep down, there’s still a part of me that wants to grab my belt back [against Pacquiao], and then try and manifest my innermost dreams and desires in the sport of boxing. But I’d have to go straight to Spence and grab two belts and go straight into a young rivalry. I’ve had other rivals, and I’m looking for new opposition all the time,” said Thurman.

‘One Time’ Thurman will need to start campaigning hard for the rematch with Pacquiao starting right now if he wants the rematch. Mikey Garcia is busy telling everyone that he speaks to that he wants the Pacquiao fight, and it’s possible he’ll talk his way into the fight rather than earning it.

You can argue that boxing fans would rather see Thurman fight Pacquiao again rather than see Mikey face the Filipino star and lose a one-sided decision. Mikey is too stingy with his punches for him to have a shot at beating Pacquiao, and it won’t be entertaining.

Keith Thurman

Fighting behind closed doors

“It’s going to affect the feeling of the performance, but I’ve been in so many events, and even though the people are there, they’re not in the ring,” said Thurman about his view of fighting behind closed doors. “Nobody is in the ring, and all the action is in the ring.

“All my focus is in the ring. There are only milliseconds of being drawn out of the ring while I’m in the ring. There’s too much happening in the ring, and I barely get pulled out of it with the crowd cheering and the booing. I’ve heard booing when I’m running around the ring.

“None of that matters. That’s my paycheck. You sent Keith Thurman to go get a paycheck. It’s going to look like every other time I went to go get a paycheck. I’m just really dedicated, and I’m prideful of my performances.

“I would still care to know that millions of people should be tuning in, and I would still really care. And I would be putting my best foot forward in my performance if that was the scenario if I was to be in a fight like that later on this year,” said Thurman.

If Thurman waits long enough before fighting again, he won’t have to worry about fighting behind closed doors. But obviously, if Thurman wants to fight in the summer, then he’s probably going to need to fight behind closed doors.

Shawn Porter said he’s willing to fight behind closed doors, so that’s one option for Thurman if he can’t get the Pacquiao fight.

Thurman: I’ve got four more years

“I’m just 26,” said Thurman when asked if he still has a lot left in the tank. “I’ve been through some things, but this racehorse ran around the track. I’ve had two different surgeries.

“I don’t see nine years on the books. I would love to keep doing what I’m doing and stay at the top and entertain for three to four solid more years, and then wear a suit and tie and talk sports.

“Maybe have a podcast in the future. You never know whats in the future for ‘One Time.’ I’m just trying to stay positive and do my best. I think the welterweight division is still not done.

“I don’t think the prime fighters have fought one another. Spence just finally got through a war. There’s still a lot more action and work to be done before I hang up the gloves.

“I’m just ready. This is my whole life. I’m closer now to retirement than I’ve ever been, but I’m still in love with the sport,” said Thurman.

It’s silly for Thurman to start speculating about how much time he has left in his career because we don’t know. It’ll depend on Thurman’s success. If Thurman is able to get back on the winning track and put together a long string of wins, he could keep fighting into his 40s like Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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