Keith Thurman was once hot as any fighter on the planet.
Thurman fought seven times in 2008 and five times the following year. He was 20-0 when he met another rising prospect, Diego Chaves, in 2013. The bout was grueling for a bit until Thurman started tattooing Chaves. He floored Chaves in round nine and knocked him out moments later.
Thurman was fast and had power. He showed grit in the Chaves fight.
Nicknamed “onetime,” he was knocking other fighters routinely, staying active, and capturing the WBA welterweight belt in 2015.
Thurman defeated Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia back-to-back. The fights were close, but Thurman was better. The win over Gracia earned him the WBC strap. Thurman talked Floyd Mayweather.
Then it all stopped. Elbow and hand sidelined Thurman. Errol Spence called him out. He gave up his belts. He did some color commentary (quite well, actually)
He was back in 2019 to face Josesito López. The bout was a tune-up to everyone but Lopez, who, after being floored in round two and on his way out, rallied to stun Thurman later in the fight.
Thurman won the fight by majority decision, but his performance was hardly impressive. Thurman fought 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao six months later. Pacquiao had banked three fights in succession after losing (a stretch) a controversial decision to hometown hero Jeff Horn in Australia. Thurman channeled a villain to help sell tickets. The problem was Thurman’s bragging got under Pacquiao’s skin.
The fight went down in Las Vegas. In round two, Pacquiao knocked Thurman on his ass. He was up quickly, but the early rounds were all Pacquiao. Thurman rallied later in the fight, but a well-timed Pacquiao body shot cooled his momentum in round nine.
Pacquiao won the fight, handing Thurman his first professional loss. Thurman disappeared from the ring again for nineteen months. He returned to fight former WBA super welterweight champion Mario Barrios in 2022.
Thurman surprised many by pummeling Barrios for 12 rounds. He talked of returning to the ring within months.
Last week, the word spread that Thurman would fight WBO super middleweight champion Tim Tszyu, but not for Tszyu’s belt.
No matter, Thurman is excited.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said at last week’s press conference.
“I’m looking forward to continuing my legacy with this fight on March 30. Once again, I get to kick off a major event. This is what boxing is all about. Action. World Class.”
Tszyu,29, is looking forward to the fight.
“I know what Keith is, and I know what he’s done,” said Tszyu. “I’m not just planning to beat Keith Thurman; I’m planning to make this a spectacle.”
Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs) had an outstanding 2023. He stopped Tony Jarrison in nine heats, iced Carlos Ocampo in the opening round, and decisioned Brian Mendoza. Tszyu has improved steadily over the years.
“It’s a blessing to be here,” Tszyu said. It’s been a long time in the process for me. As soon as my fight finished against Brian Mendoza, I needed the next one.”
Thurman, 35, is confident of the outcome.
“He’s a slow-footed fighter with a Mexican style,” Thurman said. “I’ll meet him in the middle of the ring. He’s gonna go home crying.”
If you enjoy hearing from the legends of pro sports, then be sure to tune into “The Grueling Truth” sports shows, “Where the legends speak”
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