Thurman vs. Barrios: Mario wants to wreck Keith’s comeback
By Dan Ambrose: Mario Barrios will be looking to make former WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman regret choosing him as his comeback opponent on February 5th.
If Barrios defeats Thurman, it could end the former champion’s comeback bid, sending him back home to Florida in defeat.
To improve his chances of victory, Thurman has chosen a light welterweight in the 5’10” Barrios to face on FOX PPV at the Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas.
This could be another blunder on Thurman’s part, as he’s facing a fighter at the top of his game and who gave Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis all he could handle last Summer.
Unlike Thurman, former WBA 140-lb champion Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs) has been fighting regularly, and he was right back in the gym almost immediately after his loss to Gervonta Davis last June.
After two and a half years out of the ring, Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) has decided to come back and try and capture one or more world titles. We still know if that’s the reality for the 33-year-old Thurman or not.
If this is a money-driven move on ‘One Time’ Thurman’s part, just getting a title shot against IBF/WBC champion Errol Spence Jr. or WBO champion Terence Crawford will be enough for him to pocket millions regardless of the outcome.
Can Thurman get back in the mix at 147?
“Keith Thurman, who hasn’t fought since losing his title, along with the only pro fight he’s ever lost by a split decision in a war against Manny Pacquiao,” said Max Kellerman on Max on Boxing.
“That was 2 1/2 years ago at this point is facing Mario Barrios, who was recently knocked out by Tank Davis, a smaller guy. It’s a comeback fight for Thurman, but what else is interesting about it?”
Barrios gave Tank one of the most brutal fights of his career last Summer and may have taken something out of him.
Tank didn’t look nearly as good as he used to in his fight last December against Isaac Cruz, and that was his first fight after his win over Barrios.
“I love this fight because Keith Thurman was once the top welterweight in the world, even when the division was stacked,” said Mike Coppinger.
“A 31-month layoff, so is ring-rust going to be an issue? We don’t know but what we do know is Mario Barrios is a perfectly suited opponent coming off a long layoff.
“Yes, a smaller guy. He was killing himself to make 140. I want to see if Keith Thurman can get right back in the mix against guys like Errol Spence Jr. or Terence Crawford.
“I think he fits right in there,” said Coppinger of Keith Thurman.
“He does; he’s an excellent fighter,” said Kellerman about Thurman. “Thurman, it seems to me, Mike, if you look at these next-level fighters, and there’s a reason why people put their eyeballs on Crawford and Spence and say, ‘Those are the two guys.'”
It might be undoable for Thurman to try and fit back in the mix with the current 147-lb division.
Yeah, there’s no doubt that Thurman will be given opportunities for an important fight if he beats Barrios, but his chances of beating Spence, Crawford, or Yordenis Ugas are meager.
Thurman-Barrios = firefight
“Even before Thurman lost to Pacquiao, Crawford and Spence had separated themselves at least by the eyeball tests, right?” said Kellerman. “They looked a little different, and Keith Thurman, part of the appeal is that he’s not just good, but he makes great fights.”
Thurman was already showing signs of losing something from his game in his fight before his loss to Manny Pacquiao in July 2019. In Thurman’s fight with Josesito Lopez in January 2019, he was hurt and barely escaped.
“He makes great action-packed fights. What kind of fight do you expect here?” said Kellerman about Thurman.
“I fully expect a firefight, and it’s going to be a great action scrap,” said Coppinger of the Thurman vs. Barrios fight. “Thurman doesn’t always come forward, but he’s always willing to exchange in there, and he’s a great personality too.
“We were talking about a guy that plays the recorder. He’s a great personality, and he’s a welcome former edition, now back again in the welterweight mix. Who knows when we’re going to get Spence and Crawford?”
“I agree; he’s an interesting guy,” said Kellerman of Thurman. “By the way, that fight two and a half years ago, that fight with Pacquiao was so good.
“The knockdown with Pacquiao knocking him down, that was the difference in the fight, really. It was a war. It’ll be good to get Thurman back in the ring,” said Kellerman.
A firefight would be risky for Thurman because he’s not a big welterweight at 5’7″, and his stamina might not be good enough for him to fight hard for more than four to six rounds without gassing.
Mario Barrios jumped on this fight
“As soon as it was brought up to me, I told my manager, ‘Let’s get it. That’s a fight that I would love,'” said Mario Barrios to PBC Podcast on his fight with Thurman.
Beating Thurman would be great for Barrios’ career opening the door for either a rematch with him or a title shot against Spence or Crawford.
“I know Keith is coming off a good layoff and coming with a point to prove,” said Barrios. “I’m not looking at, or he’s been slacking or none of that. I’m thinking he’s in there hungry, strong, and in the best shape of his life.
“I’m expecting a great fight come February 5th,” said Barrios of his match against Keith Thurman on FOX PPV. “I took a couple of weeks off, and then I was right back in the gym.
“I’m always staying busy, and there’s never too long of a time that I’m away from the boxing gym.
“I felt I was boxing beautifully, and it was a very competitive fight,” said Barrios about his title match last June against WBA secondary lightweight champion Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis.
“I felt we were bringing the best out of each other, and towards the end of the fight, he caught me with some good shots. Even when the fight was called off, I felt like we could have definitely continued, but that’s me being the fighter that I am.
“I understand that the referee is in there to make decisions based on the fighter’s wellbeing and the referee made a case that he felt was necessary.
“There’s nothing I could say about that, but I was very happy, even though I lost. I had a lot of people checking up on me after the fight, and I really appreciated it,” said Barrios.
Thurman will put in an excellent effort for as long as his stamina holds out, but it’s not probable that he’ll be able to fight hard for a complete 12 rounds.
Mario wants to showcase his talent
“That fight motivated me so much more than putting me down. It was getting pretty difficult,” said Barrios when asked if it had become difficult for him to make 140. It was a decision that was going to be made pretty soon, even before we agreed to the Tank fight.
“Even in that fight, I made weight and did everything the best way possible. I felt like I was still strong in that fight, and there were no excuses.
“The move to welterweight was a long time coming, and now that we are making this move, everything is going smooth with the weight and everything. It’s a lot more natural with me and a lot more comfortable.
“The stamina, power, the speed, everything. I feel great right now,”
said Barrios about his move up to 147. “I’ve been sparring super welterweights, the natural 154s.
“I’ve been looking pretty great in there, and I’m really looking forward to showcase my talents and abilities in the welterweight division,” said Barrios.
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- Keith Thurman: “I don’t want to leave it to the judges”