He’s back: Keith Thurman talks Porter, Pacquiao, Spence

“All the best fights in the welterweight division have Keith Thurman in it. Errol Spence is only doing what I’ve already done,” the Champ says

2021 is in the sights of Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs). The former unified world champion craves rematches against former titleholders Shawn Porter or Manny Pacquiao in early 2021 before challenging the winner of the December fight of Errol Spence (26-0, 21 KOs), the IBF/WBC titleholder, and former two-division champion Danny Garcia.

Thurman, the former unified Welterweight World Boxing Champion, eyes an early 2021 return. He looks for an impressive fight, after his first loss in July 2019 to eight-division champion Pacquiao and the September 2019 surgery that fused the metacarpal bones on his left hand. A full year into recovery, he is looking to the first quarter of 2021 to re-enter the boxing ring with “Porter, Pacquiao, Spence” on his mind.

“Spence has fought Porter, and now Garcia – guys I already handled a long time ago – so he’s fighting in my shadow,” said Thurman. “Porter has aggression. Garcia has the counters. But Keith Thurman can be aggressive, counter and show movement and power, so I’m someone he’s never been in the ring with.”

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Thurman appeared on the “PBC Podcast” this week and discussed how he was ready to get to work and get back in the ring. Having recovered from his hand surgery, he’s shifted focus to getting back into fighting shape, starting with his birthday diet (November 23) challenge on his Instagram (@keiththurmanjr) feed. “The biggest mistake I made in 2019 was weight management. But this month is my birthday, so I’m challenging myself to get down to 160 in advance of my training camp for the first time since I was maybe 22.”

Known for his frank interviews, Thurman indulges listeners on the PBC Podcast show with a reflective and honest update.

“The bone fusion is 100% successful,” said Thurman on the PBC podcast. “I was (in the gym) sparring with the amateurs and hitting the heavy bag – it feels good.

“I thought 2019 was going to be my best year,” he said. “Coming off a loss, you have a little bit of a fire underneath you – that you can get up and go do more. Like Ali said, ‘I’m going to show you how great I am.’ There’s a lot for me to accomplish. I still feel like I am, and in the running to be, one of the most devasting welterweights in the welterweight division today.”

Spence dismissed a potential bout with Thurman during a recent obscenity-laced interview on an episode of “The Last Stand Podcast, With Brian Custer,” citing his extreme dislike for the Clearwater, Florida, native.

“That’s a lot of talk for someone who is handling my past work,” said Thurman, stopping short of saying Spence is ducking him.

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“As an amateur, people would circle my name so they could avoid a Keith Thurman fight. Maybe Errol’s doing the same thing; I don’t know. But I know I can challenge Errol Spence in a way that he’s never been challenged.”

Thurman had gone 8-0 with four knockouts in title defenses before falling to the left-handed Pacquiao, including unanimous- and split-decisions over Porter (June 2016) and Garcia (March 2017) before injuries sidelined him for nearly two years. Thurman eschewed the operation on his left hand before his last two fights in 2019. He ended a 22-month ring absence with a 12-round majority decision victory over third-time title challenger Josesito Lopez in January 2019 before being dethroned as WBA titleholder by Pacquiao in a 12-round split-decision loss.

Now his focus is on 2021 and getting back on track after having had the year off due to the pandemic closures and shifts in boxing schedules.

“I’ve had my eyes on Porter because he was able to beat Danny Garcia, had a great fight with Errol Spence, and we have a great rivalry. Manny Pacquiao hasn’t announced his next fight, so, of course, I’d like that rematch. There were so many times where I caught and hurt Shawn Porter, so my whole agenda would be to be the first man to stop him, separating the gap between him and me. I believe that I have the boxing skills to beat Manny Pacquiao, but with a healthy left hand, I can hurt Manny Pacquiao or any man in the ring,” said Thurman.

“My intention was to fight Pacquiao and then Errol Spence, but I wasn’t going to fight Errol Spence with one hand. I don’t care who you are, Errol Spence or anyone else — all roads in the welterweight division go through Keith Thurman. And when Keith Thurman doesn’t have a strap, and he’s going after a world title, I don’t care if you’re Errol Spence or anyone else, it’s gonna bring out the dog in me. So if Errol Spence tries to exclude me from his resume, then so be it, but don’t be surprised if I get a little loud in 2021.”