Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman insists that he’s not a washed-up fighter, and he still has a lot to give the sport as he heads towards yet another comeback fight on February 5th against Mario Barrios on FOX PPV at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
Many boxing fans believe the 33-year-old Thurman is over-the-hill and just coming back for two paydays against the 26-year-old ‘El Azteca’ Barrios and then WBO welterweight champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford in the summer before disappearing once again for another 2 to 3 years of couch time.
Thurman says he still loves boxing, but it’s hard to take him at face value, considering he’s had two VERY long stretches of inactivity during the last four years.
If Thurman loves boxing, he sure has a funny way of showing it by staying inactive. Thurman believes that all he needs to do is whip himself back into shape, and he’ll regain his throne as the #1 fighter at 147.
That’s unlikely to happen. He’s older now, and he’s missed too much time for him to regain the lost years.
The former WBA/WBC welterweight champion Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) wants to make up for 31 continuous months of inactivity when he faces former WBA ‘regular’ light welterweight champion Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs) in the main event.
Thurman is not worried about change
In reacting to a question on whether he’s still the same fighter he was years ago, 33-year-old Thurman went into a mini-lecture about how all people change physically daily.
Considering how much Thurman has changed from his fight with Danny Garcia in 2017, there’s cause for concern that he could be biting off more than he can chew in his next fight against Barrios.
If you look at Thurman’s last three fights, he started going downhill from the second half of the fight with Danny Garcia.
Thurman took some big left hooks to the head in the sixth round from Garcia, and he spent the second half of the fight reeling from the pressure that Danny was putting on him.
In Thurman’s two fights since then against Josesito Lopez and Manny Pacquiao, he looked nothing like the guy he’d been in the past.
The Garcia fight and the near two-year layoff took a lot out of Thurman, leaving him looking nowhere near the fighter he’d been.
“The great philosophy of Buddha, all is impermanent,” said Keith Thurman to Fight Hub TV when asked if he’s still the same fighter he was five years ago.
“Who you are today is not who you were yesterday,” Thurman continued. “So we have to evolve, we have to accept change. You’re going to get hungry, you’re going to eat, and your hunger is going to subside, and we know this.
“But more than the hunger of who Keith Thurman was in his early 20s to who I am today, I love boxing. I fight with a passion. Every time I’m in the ring, I’m living my dream, and that’s what I remind myself.
“I chose this path; nobody chose it for me. I continue to walk this path. This is my favorite thing in life is to participate in this beautiful sport called boxing.
“So, I don’t worry about outside perspective on who Keith Thurman is,” said Thurman reacts to the question of whether he’s the same fighter he was five years ago.
“A lot of people don’t come to the St. Pete Boxing gym, and a lot of people don’t see the sweat and the drip-drip and the weight draining and dieting and everything that I sacrifice for my career.
Keith plans to stay active
Thurman says he’s going to stay active from his career from this point on until he hangs up his gloves, but we’ve heard it all before.
Keith was supposed to stay active when he made his comeback in 2019, but after getting a big payday in his loss to Pacquiao in July 2019, Thurman disappeared once again, this time for close to three years.
At this point, it’s useless for Thurman to talk about what he’s going to do with his career.
Assuming Thurman makes it through training camp to get to his February 5th fight with Barrios, there’s a possibility he’ll suffer some joint-related injury to his elbows or knuckles.
Depending on whether Thurman needs surgery again, we could see him out of the ring for another extended period, perhaps stretching into 2023.
If you’re Terence Crawford, he shouldn’t count on Thurman being available to fight him in the summer.
It’s believed that Crawford will sit and wait for Thurman, hoping he can defend against ‘One Time’ in the summer in a PPV fight. Crawford may end up wasting his time because Thurman could suffer another injury and end up being out of the ring for ages.
“I’m not over; it’s not over. I believe all the performances I’ve had up to this date, including the indication against Danny Garcia, I still don’t believe I presented the best Keith Thurman that there is.
“Before my career is over, I feel obligated to myself to do that. So as I’ve always said, win, lose or draw, I’m going to hold my head up high, right? Because it’s about me living my dream and me putting my best foot forward.
“Me challenging all the best fighters in the welterweight division, and these fighters also challenging me and at the end of the day let the best man win.
“At this point, we really just have to be active to the end,” said Thurman when asked what’s driving him now in terms of his career. “We missed a lot of time, and we acknowledge that.
“Everything that’s happened to me as a professional athlete is not ideal for any athlete. It was not blueprinted in my plan book,” said Thurman.
“Where we are today is where we are today. We can only work from here to get to tomorrow, and I’m truly dedicated and truly obligated to strive for greatness.
Thurman focused on providing excitement
As long as Thurman focuses on providing entertainment, it won’t be a defeat for him if he gets beaten by Barrios on February 5th. The way that Thurman fights, there’s always drama.
“I know there are champions in the welterweight division that are still undefeated champions, and I believe everybody can be defeated,” said Thurman. “I want to put my best foot forward and challenge all these great fighters.
“I still believe it’s Thurman vs. everybody, and I believe I have the potential to make the most exciting fights in the welterweight division, and that’s what I want to do.
“I want to do it for myself, I want to do it for the current champions, and I want to do it for the fans. I want to do it for the sport and the network, you know?
“I want to do it for my legacy and for my child that is seven months. But the story of Keith Thurman is not over. For those who think it’s over, it’s not over. It hasn’t begun, it’s always been in the works, but we’re shifting gears.
“I’m 33 now, and I step into the ring with a little more wisdom, a little bit more knowledge. I’ve experienced many things. Being hurt to the body, being hurt to the head.
“I’ve been through my first career loss. The only thing that’s not happened to me is Keith Thurman has not been knocked out. I have the desire to go through this brutal sport of boxing, and I want to push myself to the end.
Inactivity has saved Thurman from taking punishment
“It really hit home to get [33-year-old] Shawn Porter’s [retirement] announcement. It really hit home. Salute to Shawn. You had a tremendous career; you did many great things. You were a great rival.
“You’ve been my #1 rival for many years in and outside of the ring, suit game, and everything, baby. It really hit home for me because, at the age of 33, I remind myself daily that I’m closer to retirement today than I’ve ever been in my professional.
“I started boxing at the age of seven, and I started competing at the age of nine when at the age of 13, Ben Getty said, ‘You can be world champion, boy. One day, you’re going to be on TV, boy. You’re going to be a million-dollar fighter. It’s all around the corner.’
“That corner done past. We’ve been on TV, we’ve been champion, we’ve been a unified champion, we’ve been a seven-figure fighter, we’ve been on pay-per-view, but my story is not over.
“The upside to the downside of inactivity is, I haven’t beaten my body up, and that’s why I have more for those who question if I have more. Thurman didn’t beat his body up. I have more.
“I’m 33-years-old, and I have more to give. My body is in better shape now than it’s been in the past when it comes to overall health. I look forward to presenting that in this upcoming year in 2022,” said Thurman.
It’s good that Thurman hasn’t had to take wear & tear during the last three years with him sitting inactive at home in Florida.
But at the same time, his body has still aged regardless, and it’s never a good thing for a professional athlete to sit idle for three years in any sport.
He sounds a little deluded for Thurman, saying it’s a positive that he hasn’t fought since 2019.
It’s not a good thing that he hasn’t competed, and he’ll be lucky if he’s even 60% of what he was in his last fight against Manny Pacquiao. If Thurman has left if 50% of what he once was, Barrios will probably beat him.
Thurman was almost knocked out by Josesito Lopez in 2019, and the much smaller then 40-year-old Pacquiao beat him. Now almost three years later, Thurman is asking for trouble facing a quality fighter like Barrios in his first fight back.