Ray Flores – Thank you so much to the media calling in. We are just over a week and a half away from an amazing night of boxing on Saturday, July 20 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
It is PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View all starting at 9 ET/ 6 PT with the main event of the evening featuring eight division world champion Senator Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao taking on the WBA Welterweight World Champion, Keith “One Time” Thurman in the main event. This is the biggest event of the summer for boxing. It is can’t miss. Tickets for this event are available and the event is promoted by MP Promotions, Mayweather Promotions, TGB Promotions.
They’re on sale now going very fast. You can get them online at axs.com, charge by phone at 866-740-7711 or in person at any MGM Resorts International box office. Make sure you get your tickets now or order it on Fox Sports Pay-Per-View.
We want to go ahead and we want to welcome a man who is a dear friend of mine. Talk about promoting events all over the world, he has been so instrumental in being a catalyst for boxing especially when it comes to Premier Boxing Champions. Please welcome the President of TGB Promotions, Tom Brown.
Well thank you, Ray, and thanks everyone for joining us for this conference call for what should be an amazing Pay-Per-View boxing card presented by Premier Boxing Champions at the beautiful MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 20.
Now I look at everything as a matchmaker and this is a sensational fight, an incredible matchup of styles and one of the best fights you can make in the welterweight division. Obviously this showdown presents huge implications in the weight division, which has historically always been boxing’s premier division.
Neither of these fighters really require any type of introduction. This is absolutely the best fighting the best and it’s about as good as it gets. So thank you for being on the call and now I’ll throw it back over to Ray.
Thank you very much, Tom, greatly appreciate it. Another one of the promoters for next Saturday, July 20 is a man who’s been a part of some record-breaking events, please welcome the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Leonard Ellerbe.
Thank you, Ray. I can’t wait until next Saturday night. This is a terrific fight between two great fighters. Both guys I know for a fact are extremely motivated to give the fans a great fight and I think this fight will be an all-action fight from the opening bell. In Keith’s case, the one thing I know about the buildup to this fight in which I’ve been very, very impressed with him, is that he understands how to promote his fights. He’s extremely confident coming into this fight because he knows what beating a guy like Manny Pacquiao does for his career.
It not only adds a Hall of Fame name to his career, and Keith already has the best resume out of all the welterweights that are out there now, but this puts him on a whole another level. And based on everything that I’m hearing from Keith and what he’s been saying the whole promotion, he’s ready to bring it to Manny Pacquiao on a whole other level that has never been done.
Thank you very much, Leonard. When it comes to prize fighting, you need a great team around you and Keith Thurman, who’s undefeated, has a world-class team that is with him and has been a part of his career from its inception. It’s a great honor and pleasure to welcome his elite trainer, a man who’s been in the corner of Winky Wright, Jeff Lacy and also has been so instrumental in the career of Keith Thurman, a man who I think doesn’t get enough credit when it comes to being a world class elite trainer, it gives me great honor and a pleasure to introduce Dan Birmingham.
Thank you, everybody for having me. Let’s get it on.
Thank you very much, Dan. Short and sweet and to the point. Well now we turn our attention to the WBA Welterweight World Champion, the former unified welterweight world champion, joining us from Clearwater, Florida. Talk about being a part of some big moments.
This young man has fought at such an elite level for such a long time, with notable victories over current WBC Champion Shawn Porter and two-division champion, Danny Garcia. And now he’s front and center next Saturday night, July 20. Please welcome the reigning and defending WBA Welterweight Champion of the World with an undefeated record 29 wins, no losses, 22 big wins coming by way of knockouts, please welcome Keith “One Time” Thurman.
This camp has been a great camp. I’m really just happy to be back in the beautiful sport of boxing, happy to be back in the limelight, happy to have the biggest fight of my career. This fight, in my opinion, has always been in the making. I always do my best when I’m an active fighter to bring you guys some of the most exciting fights of the year. This is definitely one of those kind of fights.
I’m just happy to be sharing the ring with a legend, Manny Pacquiao, and have this beautiful opportunity to be performing once again at MGM Grand and showcasing my skills and my talent to the world and just creating my own legacy and leaving my own mark in this beautiful sport of boxing.
From your perspective was that Josesito Lopez fight the kind of tough 12 round fight that you needed to get the rust off after the long layoff with the injuries?
It was good. I dropped him in the second round. I could have possibly had it finished in that round. They would have said, oh, Keith Thurman is back, he’s devastating, but, I wouldn’t have had a tough fight. I know what kind of champion I am and it just takes certain fights and certain challenges for me to prove how I can fight out of rough situations.
In the seventh round I showed once again that Keith Thurman is not a punk. If you want to fight me, fight me. You want to hurt me, hurt me. If you drop me, you drop me, but you better stop me. As long as you don’t stop me, I’m coming out the champion like I always do because that’s what I do; I box hard, I box smart and I’m always looking for the win. I’m always prepared to challenge myself. I was brought up in this sport, I’m a real fighter, I’m a real boxer, I’m educated and Manny Pacquiao is going to get a piece of it one on one.
The Pacquiao people might have looked at that your last fight and said, we’ll fight Keith Thurman because we don’t think he’s all that. So maybe your performance, maybe not your greatest, but actually helped you land this huge fight?
That’s been the talk of the town ever since they talked about the fight. At the end of the day, who cares? This still is the most exciting fight of the year. Errol Spence versus Mikey Garcia and that didn’t hold up to the hype. When Keith Thurman fights, it’s a great fight. I think Keith Thurman makes all the great welterweight fights from here on out. It doesn’t matter who it is, when Keith Thurman fought Shawn Porter it was nominated for the Fight of the Year. When Keith Thurman fought Danny Garcia, the fans had a tremendous show.
When Keith Thurman fights Manny Pacquiao, if Keith Thurman fights Errol Spence Jr., if Keith Thurman fights Terrence Crawford, I think Keith Thurman is the new Manny Pacquiao. I think I am the most exciting fighter in the welterweight division today. I might show some weakness that might give them a little bit of confidence, but outside of that, like Ellerbe mentioned, Keith Thurman has the best resume at 147. Two years out of the game and I still hold the best resume at 147.
You can’t really take much away from me. You can throw some criticism and some shots if you want but, I believe that like I said, I bring entertainment to the welterweight division, always have, always will. If I win, I’m your entertainment, if I lose, I’m your entertainment. Keith Thurman is one of the greatest fighters in the welterweight division today hands down.
Talk more about your decision to drop out of high school and pursue professional boxing full time at around age 15 .
Yes, at the end of the day, Keith Thurman is just not a 9-5 kind of guy. Know thyself. I’ve always known what I wanted for myself. I was 10 years old when I said nobody is going to be the boss of me. And I shocked a lot of people with that statement. I can barely listen to my own mother, how am I going to have a boss?
At the end of the day I was rebellious, I was a dreamer and I didn’t know it at a young age, but I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I was going to pursue boxing and hope that boxing opens up doors that allows me to live out my life as an entrepreneur. Luckily for me I’ve had great success and I believe that I will have a life after boxing as well.
At the end of the day, I’m a dreamer and you can tell your kids, you need this and you need that and I looked at every adult and said I need to dream. I need to live my dream and if I fail, I’ll listen to every little bit of advice that you have from here on out.
My dream comes first, and I’ll put my best foot forward and I’ll go back to school at 35 years old. I will pick up a book and I’ll be back on a college campus. At least if today I go to college, I can afford the tuition.
I don’t have to rely on my mother. I don’t have to rely on the government. So I’m just a different kind of breed and I was very passionate. To this day I’m still very passionate. I live off of passion. It’s a blessing to at a young age to understand your passions.
There’s many children who don’t have a sense of direction who don’t know what they want to do, don’t know what they want to be, and maybe they have a skill set. But, maybe that’s not what they want to inspire in life. So I’m a very fortunate individual and I’m very blessed to live the life that I live.
Do you think you’ll ever try to go back and get that diploma or is it not really worth it at this point?
You ask me, I’m a doctor already. Educated in boxing.
What was in your mind Dan, when they told you about Keith Thurman’s focus and desire that at that age he would drop out of high school and go pursue professional boxing?
Well, I actually was around him. I was his assistant coach. Ben was his lead coach until his death, but I was his assistant coach for a long time. If you know Keith well, he’s self-educated. He knows a lot of things that you can’t pick up out of books. He learns it. He lives it. So, in that regard, education really wasn’t in his plans.
Do you feel that too much has been made about the difficulty you had in the seventh round against Josesito Lopez or do you understand why people are pointing to that from your last fight?
I remember talking to Max Kellerman backstage after my first fight on HBO and I said, Max what did you think about the performance? He said, well, yes, you did good Keith. But what happens the day you get hit?
I always thought to myself, Max do you want to hit me and find out? You know what I’m saying? Because you don’t know Keith Thurman. You don’t know what I did at the age of 15. You don’t know the road that I’ve been on. But I said okay, respect.
There was a dude named Victor Ortiz at the time and he got beat up and he almost cried on national TV, but Keith Thurman isn’t a punk and I’ll show you one day. So, now, you’re asking the same question, what do you think about Keith Thurman, he isn’t going to say well Keith Thurman can’t take a punch because they’ve seen me take a punch.
You’ve got to talk about what you see. If you see somebody look weak, they look weak. If you see somebody look flawed, they look flawed. If you see somebody look unconditioned, they’re unconditioned. You have to report what you see, and I got caught. I got caught. I was in danger. I remember after I got caught and then I got caught again.
And then after I got caught again, I then got caught again. I got hit with three big shots that round. I said you better put your hands up. You better move your feet because only you know you’re okay right now. The whole world thinks you’re going to be knocked out. The whole world thinks you’re about to be knocked out. But just get out of this round and let’s show them what kind of champion you really are.
So, it isn’t about too much talk, it is what it is. It probably was one of my most vulnerable rounds of my career to date. A lot of fighters would not be able to get out of the round in the way that I did. And to me it’s just evidence of how great I truly am. They have a little saying in boxing, it’s not about when you get knocked down, it’s about what you do when you get back up.
I don’t even let them put me down. It’s just boxing. It’s just another black eye. It’s just a sport. I have an ‘0’ and I’m not afraid to let it go. If you can beat me, beat me. Josesito Lopez had it right there in front of his eyes. He couldn’t close the deal. He couldn’t close it.
Keith was that the most trouble you’ve ever been in, even in sparring or anything in that round?
I was scared sparring Jeff Lacy when I was 16-years-old. Eventually he had to tell me, “We can’t spar anymore because you hit too hard and I’m a grown man. I want to knock you out and you’re 16 years old. I don’t want to have that on my conscious. So, you can no longer be my sparring partner because you do too much and I want to knock you out and you’re a kid. I don’t want to knock a kid out.”
So, we had to stop sparring. I knew he could knock me out. I wouldn’t let him, but if he actually connected, you don’t let people knock you out. So, at the end of the day I really respected Jeff Lacy for sitting me down and having that conversation and explaining to me why we will never share the ring ever again.
How will you be better in this fight?
I try to explain to you guys from the beginning of the year when the Josesito Lopez fight happened. All of 2019 is just Keith Thurman getting back. This is still a get back year. At least I’m staying busy and I’m taking the momentum from one training camp into the next training camp.
I hired two strength and conditioning coaches and I’m really dedicated and I’m taking this seriously because being great requires great effort. We all know that Floyd Mayweather wasn’t one of the best ever because he was able to eat McDonald’s and make weight. It’s because he was running a lot of miles. He was doing standing sit ups. He was boxing his butt off and eating McDonald’s as well as making weight.
That’s what Floyd was doing. So, to be great it takes great effort. I’m applying myself in a better fashion and I believe that it should show in the fight. I should have a better performance.
I think with Keith showing some vulnerability in that last fight I think that this is definitely going to help him in this fight because anytime that you show something like that then the whole mindset of people changes, because he might have been in most people eyes as the boogey man in the division.
When he showed that he got caught and he was able to come back the way he did, it showed great heart, the heart of a champion. The same thing happened when Floyd got caught with Shane Mosley, not that those are similar situations, but it just shows. We saw a different kind of Keith. And I think he’ll use that as momentum coming into the Manny fight and have a lot more confidence as well. Similarly, to what he had said, he needed to be more alert, to be more aware.
It’s the little things that that help you grow as a fighter and make you a better fighter. That’s one of the things that I had a discussion with Floyd about when he got caught with the big shot from Shane. It’s showing how you are going to respond back. He came back and he fought like a dog. He walked him down. Keith has that same kind of mentality.
How much better shape do you feel that you’re in for this fight than you were for the Lopez fight?
I feel much better. People think I’m playing. I really train myself at night at L.A Fitness on a spin bike. That was my conditioning for the Josesito Lopez fight. No disrespect to Josesito Lopez, but I can’t recall the last time a flat-footed fighter, Latino fighter beat Keith Thurman.
The last two amateurs that beat me were Charles Hatley and Demetrius Andrade. They were not flat-footed, Latino fighters. Styles makes fights and I knew I could rely on my boxing IQ to be victorious in the fight. In the seventh round, I realized it was a little bit of a gamble. We got out of it and if I want to look better than that, I should train harder. That’s what we’re doing.
Does it feel good being back in the groove preparing for fights, being in this type of environment instead of having long rehabs for injuries and surgeries that you’ve had for the last couple of years?
Definitely man. I’m living out my dream. This is my passion. I didn’t do a lot of interviews. I didn’t do a lot of talk in my inactivity because I like to talk positive. I like to talk action. Being an inactive fighter, to me, there’s not a lot to talk about. What am I going to talk about, my struggle or am I going to talk about my depression, my sadness? What am I going to talk about?
At the end of the day, I’m really, really happy to be back in the sport. It’s a beautiful opportunity. It’s a dream come true. And I’m just back living my dream. I love the sport of boxing. I want to have fun. This is my job. When you go to work you should enjoy yourself. If you don’t enjoy your job you should get a new job. I love my job and this is my entertainment.
Do you view this fight as the one that does show who the best welterweight in the world is or do you feel like that’s something that needs to be decided with more fights among that elite group of fighters down the road?
Don’t know. Don’t care. It’s not my job. It’s your job to report opinionated things. At the end of the day, I’m living a dream. I’m happy. We’re making money, we’re making history in a sport that I’ve always wanted to make history in.
All I want to do is leave my mark so that when I walk out from here, I can hold my head up high. All I want is for one day 20 years from now, when people talk boxing, they’ll argue this, they’ll argue that, but there’s going to be one dude who said you know who I really like, man I like that kid Keith “One Time” Thurman. That is my ultimate goal. I want be amongst the great names. I want to be amongst the names so that there’s some fan who will never forget what I’ve done.
With Pacquiao’s last three fights, is one more important than the other or have you looked beyond those last three fights?
At the end of the day, he’s come back strong after a loss. Maybe he underestimated Jeff Horn, maybe he really did fall ill overseas – they said that he was kind of sick the week of the fight and obviously no fighter is going to pull out of a fight.
Styles make fights. Pacquiao could have underestimated Horn, he could have not trained the same way. He looked terrific against Lucas Matthysse and he dominated Adrien Broner. Obviously he doesn’t think he’s done. He doesn’t like to talk about retirement. He’s going to come to dominate Keith Thurman, which is something no one’s ever done.
He is also inspired to win a world title, something he’s never won throughout his whole career because the last time he fought for the super WBA title was against Floyd Mayweather, upon which he suffered a loss. This is his second opportunity to acquire something that he’s never acquired before throughout his whole career.
Pacquiao’s got a lot going for him. He wants to prove his greatness, prove his legacy is one that will never be forgotten even though it cannot be forgotten win, loss, draw – it cannot be forgotten because he’s accomplished so much in this sport of boxing. But he still is reaching for greatness at the age of 40 and it’s admirable.
I’m young. I definitely want to do more and on the 20th, I’m going to show you more.
Can you envision yourself fighting at 40 years old?
No. My grandfather never liked that I was going to be boxer. My grandfather on my father’s side never liked that I was going to be a boxer. My family’s all from Ohio outside of Cleveland. My grandfather said, “If you’re going to do it boy, get in and get out.”
He meant it in a two-fold way. He meant if you can stop them, stop them and get out of the ring early and make your money and get out of boxing while you’ve got sense and you can talk straight. Because the big thing about fighters back in the day is the punch drunk syndrome which even Ben Getty used to talk to me about it.
I’m going to do my best to not take too many shots come July 20th. A few more of these paychecks and we won’t be here when we’re 40 years old. I don’t need $100 million in life. I just need a little bit of moolah.
You are 30 years old. You are a decade younger than Pacquiao, you’ve had fewer than half the fights he’s had. There’s some conventional wisdom that you’re not going to take it easy in the early rounds, but maybe you save a little something, something for the championship rounds and see if a 40 year old man can take your best heat in 9, 10, 11 and 12.
So I’m curious to hear from you and your trainer if that’s been part of your thinking.
I’m going to do to him what I did to Danny Garcia. I’m going to hit him as soon as I can hit him.
Freddie Roach is the only one that talks trash and that reminds me of the Danny Garcia fight. For him it was his daddy and his trainer. Pacquiao knows that it’s the hands that do all the talking. Ben Getty said, “Go out there and show them your power, boy.” He said, “I don’t care who it is.” He said, “when you hit them, they’re going to do a pretty little dance.”
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to destroy a legend and to create my own legacy. How can I not go for it?
If Manny Pacquiao is the man that beats me, he’s the man that beats me and I’m going to shake his hand after the fight and congratulate him. But when Keith Thurman steps into the ring, you’re dealing with Keith Thurman and he’s a bad man.
One thing you said in response to a previous question was that you weren’t so inclined to talk when you were out of boxing. You didn’t want to talk about your depression, you didn’t want to talk about your sadness. You made it sound like it cut a little bit deeper than just the sort of general frustration of having to overcome an injury. Is that a fair assessment? Was this something that really got into your head and left you wondering about how this all might go?
I’m a very passionate individual. I’m a dreamer. It’s human nature that not every day is going to be our best day and for me my thought process started to get a little morbid. I started having to ask myself the question are you ever going to fight again. Is your career over at the age of 28, 29 years old? Are you done?
Is that all that you will ever accomplish in your career? It was sad but I could still be proud about being a two-time world champion unifying the WBA with the WBC when I defeated the undefeated world champion Danny Garcia at the time.
I’m still in my prime so it was quite depressing to start thinking like that and obviously I got myself out of that chain of thought and getting into the gym also helps because as you’re not training, you’re not feeling good either.
As you train and you lose weight, you know everybody feels better about themselves and training is a natural way to increase endorphins in the brain. Not everything can be your best day and I had some depressing moments and some negative thought patterns at that time.
But luckily for me, my doctors kept encouraging that you will be back and I could have gotten back at the end of 2018, but I talked to my team, I talked to my wife and I was encouraged that nothing good was coming out of 2018. So let’s just wait for 2019. Let’s start fresh. Let’s hit it in January and patience can be a virtue sometimes and I believe we’re having a tremendous year and I’m obviously a lot happier to be back in the sport.
Some people seem to be unhappy about the testing for this fight. Can you share your thoughts on that?
I’ve always been a clean fighter. I’ve been tested throughout my boxing career at all times. At the end of the day, there has been testing and it was done through the promoters.
It’s not my job to create testing. I fight clean at all times ever since I was an amateur striving to be an Olympian. I’m prideful that even my boxing style is pretty clean. You don’t see Keith Thurman being warned for low blows constantly.
You don’t see me being warned for head butts or anything like that. I have always been a clean fighter. I always will be a clean fighter and it’s one of the least of my concerns. Manny Pacquiao, we’ve watched him. He doesn’t look 10 years younger. Pacquiao is a natural athlete who’s been active for the past year. He’s been very active and he stays in shape. He doesn’t look anything out of the norm. Whatever the promoters request, we do. There will be testing just like every fight at the world championship fight before and after the fight.
How have you been incorporating yoga in your training for this camp?
I have not. I’m definitely a fan of yoga. There’s a lot of athletes who are fans of yoga in today’s generation. Yoga has tremendous health benefits especially in combination with meditation. Meditation also has health benefits. It helps with your stretching. It helps with your centering. It helps with your focus. Yoga can help with your breathing, so I’m aware of a lot of the different ways it can be utilized by athletes.
But in this specific training camp I did not utilize yoga that much. I have a massage therapist who also stretches me and he opens me up and keeps my muscles moving well, keeps my body moving well. I stuck with those basics and a lot of hard training. It’s hard to train twice a day and find time to stretch for an hour.
So was it specifically something you decided to not do this camp conscientiously because it didn’t work for you previously or what was the thought process in not going with the alternative and spiritual training programs that you usually go with?
I never do it. I don’t think you’ve ever seen me do it on film in a training camp in the past. For the Shawn Porter fight, Shawn Porter did more yoga than I did. I like yoga. I’ll participate in yoga but I’ll do it more in my off-season than when I’m in season. I like to focus on my boxing, my strategy and my technique to win each and every fight. I have a stretching guy who will stretch me and keep my body open and moving properly. It’s really hard for me to fit yoga into the overall regimen because I’m focused on training hard, strength and conditioning and losing weight.
Pacquiao is known for his stamina, his energy, his speed. How have you been preparing to kind of face an opponent that probably you haven’t faced before from a stamina standpoint?
Watching the tape and just knowing Pacquiao, he is a guy who will produce numbers as long as you let him. Movement can always make it difficult for a fighter like Pacquiao to put out the output that they might want to put out or an output that they’re used to putting out.
But movement can also neglect the activity of an overall fight. I just know how boxing works. If I ever feel like he’s getting off a little too much maybe I will increase some of my movement. At the same time, his conditioning is always great. But when I look back at films there’s not a lot of people that go to Manny Pacquiao’s body. I don’t know if that’s because of his small, short size. I don’t know if it’s difficult.
I remember Ellerbe making a statement that Manny is an awkward fighter and that Keith might find himself in the ring having a little bit more difficulty than what he’s mentally prepared for. That can happen or it can work in my favor. We’ll find out real soon.
Were you a fan of Pacquiao during his prime?
No, I was not a boxing fan at a young age. I was not a boxing spectator fan. I’m not a big fan of almost any sport because I’m not a spectator.
I love participating in sports. I’m not one that sits down, watches games. I live too much of an active lifestyle. I want to be apart of the action. Put me in the game coach. Give me a piece of the action. I started watching more professional boxing when I knew I was going to turn pro. The first fight I really remember from Manny Pacquiao off the top of my head would happen to be Pacquiao-De La Hoya.
Does this feel like a new phase of your career, a new level of accomplishment to get to fight against an all-time great in Pacquiao?
I wanted this fight six years ago at the MGM Grand. I just always thought that it would be a beautiful fight. I would always love the opportunity and to have the opportunity right in front of me, we’re counting down the days. It’s just beauty man. It just shows that dreams do come true. With hard work and dedication you can make anything happen.
I fight in the ring wearing red, white and blue because when Thurman’s in the ring he’s living out his American dream. I do not change my colors because I have pride. I have passion and I’m just grateful to live this life. This is just an amazing, amazing opportunity.
Manny Pacquiao has almost 70 fights in his record. It’s as if I’m fighting Sugar Ray Robinson himself. It’s as if I’m fighting Roberto Duran. This is Manny Pacquiao. It’s just a tremendous, tremendous feeling and it’s going to feel even greater when my hand is raised at the end of the night.
At this time we really appreciate Keith taking out precious moments from his training camp. He is always very kind and friendly to the media around the world. Keith before we let you go if you have any final statement before you get set for your showdown next Saturday, July 20, against Manny Pacquiao, PBC on Fox Sports pay-per-view.
Thank you guys for being in support of this tremendous event. This is one of the biggest events of the year. I’m here today. I’ll be here tomorrow. I’m not afraid to let it my ‘0’ go. If he beats me, he beats me. But I’m going to be putting on a show July 20. Don’t miss it.