Keith Thurman: Spence is going to have to see me at 147 or leave the division
By Sean Jones: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman says he’s interested in a fight against Errol Spence Jr, and he doesn’t see him being able to avoid facing him.
IBF/WBC welterweight champion Spence Jr (26-0, 21 KOs) had gone on record to say that he won’t give former WBA/WBC 147-pound champion Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) a title shot because he never gave him the opportunity fight for a belt when he was the champion.
Thurman, 31, doesn’t take Spence’s comments seriously, and he thinks he would be forced to fight him unless he wants to leave the 147-pound division. That’s something that Spence said he wants to do after he defeats these guys:
- Terence Crawford
- Danny Garcia
- Shawn Porter
- Manny Pacquiao
Thurman welcomes Spence, Porter, Mikey or Danny fights
“I’m ready to get back in with all this competition,” said Keith Thurman to PepTalkUK. “My mind mentally would love a rematch [with Manny Pacquiao]. I think it’s a worthy rematch and a deserved rematch. It’s an epic fight.
“It’s whatever doors will open. If I have to fight a Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia. I’d be surprised if Errol Spence hops on the table right away, but there are so many opportunities.
“It’s hard for someone to show me an opportunity and watch me say no. I could maybe take a tune-up. But I like great fights and significant challenges. Whoever, I fight, I know there’s going to be a following. I want to make it worth my while.
“Those training camps are not easy. I want my opponent to be worthy of all the pain and suffering that is involved in the whole event for it to be really worthwhile.
“I’ve never enjoyed easy fights. I started my career with first-round knockouts. That’ what an easy fight to be looks like,” said Thurman.
Keith doesn’t have an opponent picked out yet for his first fight back after the lockdown, but he has a good chance of getting Porter.
Spence has everyone gunning for him at 147
“I highly doubt that statement,” said Thurman when told that Errol Spence says he’s not going to give him an opportunity. “I’ve heard several different comments.
“Everyone is gunning for him, and if he wants to stay champion, he’s going to have to answer to everybody or follow after his predecessor and dodge everybody and pick who he chooses.
“He’s faced some of my competition, but he’s never faced me. I did that with Errol when he fought Shawn Porter. I got a lot of people that think the way I beat Porter was better,” said Keith.
Spence is in the position where he can fight whoever he wants for the next year or two. When Spence does need to make a mandatory defense sooner or later, he’ll need to face Porter and Kudratillo Abduqaxorov.
Porter is Spence’s #1 ranked contender with the WBC, whereas Kudratillo is #1 with the IBF. Those are both fights that Spence will have no problems winning.
Although Spence struggled to beat Porter last year, the reason for that is he slugged with him at close range. In the rematch, Spence will box Porter from the outside and not let him get inside.
Spence could leave the 147-pound division sooner than people think if he can get the Pacquiao and Crawford fight in 2021. If Spence beats those two, he’ll likely forget about Porter and move up to 154. No one will care if Spence leaves the division without facing Porter again if he defeats Pacquiao and Crawford.
Thurman: Spence will need to leave the division
“He fought [Leonard] Bundu and knocked him out. I fought Bundu and dropped him in the first round, and let him survive,” said Thurman. “All of a sudden, we got to a 12 round decision.
“But did he really out-perform me, or did he not? Bundu had statements where he said, ‘Keith Thurman is still going to be a problem for Errol Spence.’ If he [Spence] wants to discredit me, that’s all okay. I know he’s crediting me at the same time.
“He’s going to have to give me my respect one way or another. If he doesn’t want to see me at 147, he’s going to have to leave the division. I think he didn’t want to look bad against a lightweight,” said Thurman in talking about why Spence didn’t knockout Mikey.
“Going 12 rounds, he didn’t look bad, but also he didn’t make it look good. It was kind of a very neutral, dull performance, especially with such an amped-up, highly anticipated fight.
“There really wasn’t that much of an exciting fight. They both tip-toed around each other. And they both had their seatbelts on. They were well-protected in that fight.
“It was a winning performance, he stayed undefeated, and sometimes you do that in the game. It wasn’t a great performance, but I do think he shut Mikey up and discredited everything Mikey said,” Thurman added.
The only way Thurman can force Spence to fight him is if he becomes his mandatory challenger, and that’s not going to happen overnight. Thurman isn’t ranked high with the IBF and WBC, and it could take him more than two years to get a #1 ranking. By then, Spence will have moved up to 154.
Keith took too much weight off for Manny clash
“The #1 thing I blame is my weight control,” Thurman said. “As far as self-discipline, I failed on that. I think I can take the weight off more slowly and not rapidly. Pacquiao doesn’t have to make weight at 147.
“I had to put a lot of strain on my body that he didn’t have to put on his body, but I did it to myself. There’s no one else to blame. It was a great learning experience,” said Thurman.
Keith said he lost over 30 pounds in training camp in getting ready for his match against Pacquiao last year in July. As fat as Thurman looked, he may have lost even more than 30 pounds.
What hurt Thurman’s performance against Manny is he lost all that weight in a hurry during camp. Thurman’s training camp was mostly a fat farm during the first half, and he still needed to lose weight even at the end.
Thurman says he’s not going to let himself get overweight any longer between fights because he learned from his loss to Pacquiao that he can’t do that. Thus far, Thurman is looking good, and he’s not swelled up like he’d been doing in his last couple of fights.
In Thurman’s case, it’s not just his weight that has hindered him. He’s been dealing with a left-hand problem, and he hasn’t been able to put a lot of power in his shots. Thurman recently had hand surgery, and he’s feeling confident that he can use it now.
Thurman wishes he’d fought harder against Pacquiao
“There’s no one going to beat me by one point ever again,” One Time said. “It’s going to be hard or a lot of people. The fight [against Pacquiao] wasn’t lost in the first round. It was lost somewhere around the tenth.
“There was a moment where I saw the fight pretty much as a draw. It was in that moment where I accepted a draw with two rounds to go where I lost the fight. I believe if I had pushed and convinced myself that I need a knockdown, even if I fell short of it, maybe the performance of that would have led to the draw.
“I wonder if I didn’t stay so call whether that would have affected the fight. It’s been a long time since I dominated, destroyed, and got rid of my opponent. The way Pacquiao springs forward, he’s putting 100 percent effort.
“You can tell when you block a punch; he’s putting a lot of force. He’s not setting things up as much as when it’s go, it’s go. It’s like he’s sprinting at all times. I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to evolving and putting all that back into the world of boxing.
“Upsets happen, but the real champions come right back, and that’s what I plan on doing,” said Keith ‘One Time.’
Thurman still had a chance to beat Pacquiao up until the 10th round, but he blew it when he was hurt by a body shot.
That round ruined it for Thurman, but he had made a mistake earlier when he was dropped in the first. Thurman relaxed for a moment in round one, and Pacquiao went after him dropped him.
One Time open to Kell Brook fight
“Send me the pounds, mate. Send me the pounds,” said Thurman when asked if he’d like to fight Kell Brook. “I’m all about contracts and all about opportunities. I would love to fight overseas or maybe even do an overseas tour before my career is done.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to fight overseas like a lot of greats like Ali and a lot of greats throughout history. Kell Brook is a great rival, and he’s done a lot of great things in the welterweight division.
“He’s not that active right now. I don’t know where his name stands now. But personally, there was a time and a place where I would have loved to take that fight. If there’s a real opportunity, show it to me, baby,” said Thurman.
A fight against Kell Brook likely won’t happen for Thurman, as he’s got better options. The 33-year-old Brook is viewed by a lot of boxing fans as just looking for a cash-out fight. Brook hasn’t fought a serious opponent in several years since his loss to Spence.
Thurman gains nothing from fighting Brook now, and he was mainly responding to a question asked of him by the British interviewers at PepTalkUK when he spoke of Kell.
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