Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman will be returning to the ring next Saturday for his comeback fight against Mario Barrios. Many boxing fans will be intrigued to see what the former WBA/WBC will be welterweight champion has left.
Thurman has only had two fights in the last five years, and that’s not nearly enough for him to keep sharp. His power is likely still there, but everything else will be gone.
Even Thurman’s voice sounds different from what it was five years ago. He’s physically changed. Whether that’s for the better remains to be sent, but it’s hard to imagine that Thurman has improved unless he’s aging backward.
To look at him, he looks like a person in their mid-30s, so he’s definitely aging the way normal people do.
The 33-year-old Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) has been out of the ring for 30 months [2 1/2 years], and he’s finally returning to try and recapture his throne as the #1 welterweight on the planet. That’s what his goal is for 2022.
The first step of the journey for Thurman is against former WBA ‘regular’ 147-lb champion Mario Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs) in their headliner on FOX Sports pay-per-view at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Barrios, 26, is coming off an 11th round TKO loss to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis last summer on June 26th on Showtime PPV in Atlanta, Georgia.
That was a fight in which Barrios gave Tank Davis so many problems that his promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr. felt the need to climb up on the ring apron after the seventh round to give Gervonta a motivational ‘Win one for the old Gipper’ type of speech.
Luckily for Tank Davis, he responded and took over the fight to drop Barrios twice and score a knockout in the eleventh round.
Porter expects to see vintage Thurman
“I’m excited to see his hunger, I’m excited to see his skill, and I’m very excited to see his power,” said Shawn Porter to Premier Boxing Champions about Keith Thurman.
“The dude has God-given power, and if we’re able to see that in this fight against Mario Barrios, it’s safe to say that Keith Thurman is back.
“Keith has a way of playing it safe. I’m not mad at him for that. It got him undefeated until he fought Manny Pacquiao. He’s a very smart fighter, and I’m definitely expecting to see that.
“What I want to see is power, though. I want to see that tenacity, and I want to see that vicious spirit that we had all the way back when we were 10-year-olds in the amateurs. That’s what I want to see.
“What I expect to see is a very smart Keith, a Keith that will win this fight and the Keith that has the boxing ability,” said Porter.
“Ever since we fought in 2016, he’s only had three fights since 2016, which is borderline crazy,” said Porter of Thurman. “I had him on by Podcast the other day, and he really does look rejuvenated.
“I think a lot of times fighters have learned what to say and what to do to get the media on their side. I know Keith knows how to do that, but I know Keith really well.
“I could just see his energy is really special, and it’s a vintage Keith that we used to see in 2015, 2013 when he was going for it all,” said Porter of Thurman.
Back in 2016, when Thurman fought Porter in a war, that was ‘One Time’ at his very best. Porter took the best out of Thurman, and he’s been nowhere near as good since that fight.
If that version of Thurman were to step foot inside the ring this Saturday, Barrios wouldn’t stand a chance. Again, it’s unlikely we’ll see the vintage Thurman of old when he returns to the ring because he’s not stayed active enough to be the guy he once was.
Can Thurman still take a punch?
“You know it’s been a long layoff. We fought five years ago,” said Danny Garcia about his fight with Thurman in July 2017. “That’s crazy. I can’t believe it’s already been five years, and I think he’s only had two fights since then. Can you still take a punch?
“Can you still motivate yourself to be great? But as far as his talent and skill, he was #1 at welterweight at one time. We fought for a unification fight for the WBA, WBC, for all the marbles, you know?” said Danny Garcia about his huge fight five years ago against ‘One Time’ Thurman in July 2017.
“It was a close fight that I thought I won, but we’re talking about a guy that was #1 in the division. Listen, man; we got a rivalry, Garcia vs. Thurman 2; that’s something the fans want to see.
“I would like to get back in the ring at the top of this year. You know, we’re in talks right now. Thurman gets his win, and Danny gets his win. Then let’s do it again. I think that’s one of the biggest fights that can be made in boxing this year,” said Garcia in starting to campaign for a Thurman rematch.
We’ll see if Thurman can still take a good shot this Saturday night when the 26-year-old Barrios tests his chin. With Barrios moving up in weight, his power and stamina will likely have been improved to what it was when he was draining down to fight at 140.
If Barrios’ power has gotten significantly better, Thurman may be in deep, deep trouble.
Yordenis Ugas glad to see Thurman back
“I think this is going to be a good fight,” said WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas about the Thurman vs. Barrios fight. “Thurman has lots of talent and lots to prove after more than two and a half years away.
“Barrios is on his way up and has shown that he’s a strong fighter,” Ugas continued. “We will definitely see a good fight. The Thurman that we saw against [Manny] Pacquiao was a good one.
“He fought hard that night, even though it wasn’t enough. Then again, two and a half years have gone by, and I don’t expect him to be as sharp as he was back then.
“I’m happy to see you fight once again. Glad to see one of the best welterweights in the world back in action. A former unified champion, no less.
“I’m happy to see him back, and boxing as a whole should be happy to see him return to the sport,” said Ugas of Thurman.
Ugas sounds like he doubts whether Thurman will be the fighter of old when he gets back in the ring. The problem Thurman has is he was already out of the ring for two years, from 2017 to 2019.
He didn’t look like the same fighter he’d been previously when he came back for two fights in 2019 against Josesito Lopez and 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao.
The 2017 version of Thurman would have beaten Pacquiao in 2019, but not the ring-rusty one that we saw.
Now, after nearly three years out of the ring, Thurman will be jumping in with a young Mario Barrios in the main event on Saturday. This could be trouble for Thurman.
I know he wants the money and that’s why he’s fighting a quality guy in his first fight back, but it’s foolish and very risky what he’s doing.