Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman wants to put in a good performance against Mario Barrios on February 5th and then use the victory as a launching pad to get him a title shot against Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr., or Yordenis Ugas in the summer.
Thurman says he’s not afraid of Crawford, and he thought it was amusing to listen to the ESPN commentators making Terence out to be some scary talent during his fight with Shawn Porter last November.
WBO welterweight champion Crawford is likely the easiest of the three for former WBA/WBC 147-lb champion Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) to face next summer. Spence says he doesn’t want to fight Thurman, but perhaps he’ll change his mind.
Crawford wants the fight, and he may even sit idle and wait to face Thurman in the summer. If you’re Crawford, that might be the wisest thing for him to do because if he fights someone, he might lose.
Top Rank wants to match Crawford against Josh Taylor in 2022, which will be a hard fight.
Thurman not afraid of Crawford
“Crawford looked like he was just trying to land counters,” said Keith Thurman to Fight Hub TV on the recent Crawford vs. Shawn Porter fight last November.
“They said every welterweight is moving up to 154,” said Thurman in making it clear that he wasn’t in awe of Crawford’s performance or afraid after watching him beat the gatekeeper Porter.
“It wasn’t scary; it wasn’t a rated R movie. I wasn’t frightened [of Crawford]. If anything, I still believe I present more than what Shawn did. Of course, we know that Crawford is a talented individual.
“We know there’s an uncrowned king in the welterweight division, and that’s why it’s uncrowned. Don’t go crowning anybody yet. Let’s make these fights happen,” said Thurman.
“So, I obviously can’t stop other people from putting fights together. But if Thurman could have it Thurman’s way, what it comes down to is getting back in the ring, getting an exciting fight, putting on an exciting performance.
“Showing people what it looks like to watch Keith Thurman in the ring after so many years to remind people who Keith Thurman is and what I bring to the welterweight division.
“From there, it’s Ugas, Spence and Crawford. That’s all the champions. I don’t have a belt right now. I want a belt back.
“So all three of those guys are legitimate; I think you would agree are legitimate for a fight this up and coming summer. If I fight in the first quarter of 2022, I can take a fight by July,” said Thurman.
Crawford fought better when he slowed down
“He was whiffing quick check hooks and missing them, and whipping uppercuts and missing them,” said Thurman. “As the rounds wore on, I saw both fighters slow down, and when Crawford actually slowed down, he was doing better because he was actually able to hit the target now.
“When he was being flinchy and reactive, he wasn’t as accurate. When he settled down a little bit when they both settled down because five rounds went by, and you’re naturally going to slow down to a degree.
“His [Crawford] timing got activated, and he wasn’t flinching. He was placing, and I started to see that shift around the fifth round, sixth round. I thought to myself, ‘Crawford is going to take the second half of this fight,'” said Thurman.
The 34-year-old Crawford looked very beatable and slower than he used to be in his win over Porter. The way Crawford fought, he was fortunate that he wasn’t sharing the ring with Errol Spence Jr, Vergil Ortiz, or Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis.
Crawford would have been beaten for sure by Ennis and likely by Spence if he was in the form that he showed against Porter.
Vergil would be a tough fight for Crawford because he would get hit a lot by harder shots than he’s accustomed to.
Crawford would likely run around the ring, and that wouldn’t help his popularity to be seen doing that against a younger fighter.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum had a hard enough time selling Crawford’s fights on PPV. Now that he’s a free agent, Crawford can’t afford to be boring.
Porter wasn’t the same fighter
Thurman says he noticed that the 33-year-old Porter had deteriorated from the performances he’d put in two and half years ago against Errol Spence in 2019 and five years ago when he fought him in 2016.
It wasn’t surprising that Porter had slipped because he’s been all that active since his fight with Spence.
After that fight, Porter was out of the ring for eleven months before returning against fringe contender Sebastian Formella in August 2020.
That was a low-level opponent and not nearly good enough to keep Porter sharp. After that fight, Porter was out of the ring for fifteen months before facing Crawford last November.
With all the inactivity in the last two and a half years, it was expected that Porter would look like the shell of his former self when he took on Crawford.
In hindsight, Porter shouldn’t have fought Crawford after those two layoffs because he wouldn’t be ready. What Porter needed was three or four fights in a short period to get prepared for Crawford. He didn’t do, though, and his fight was Terence had cash-out written all of it.
“I thought Shawn was capable of it, and we saw what Shawn did to Danny [Garcia],” said Thurman on Porter failing to perform as he had in the past. “We saw what he did to [Yordenis] Ugas, and we know that sometimes, he doesn’t put it all out there.
“He did against Spence, and I thought that was one of the best performances of his career, even though he fell short of victory in that fight. I pre-predicted that if Crawford was going to get him, it was going to be a step back left uppercut.
“That was based off of styles and how Shawn is constantly leaning in, and it really played out like that. I was a little surprised, and then I wasn’t surprised because I already predicted.
“Shawn was doing consistently what he was doing without many any changes and adjustments, and for Crawford, it allowed him to settle in and capitalize, especially in the later rounds when Shawn’s legs were not as sharp as they were in the opening four or five rounds.
“It was a great performance from both fighters. Crawford definitely had to battle it out. He had to endure. That’s the thing about a Porter fight. You’re not going to get to the end.
“You’re not going to get that victory if you cannot endure what Shawn Porter dishes out. We saw Kell Brook endure. We saw me endure, and we saw Errol Spence endure.
“So the beauty is he [Crawford] did make a statement by being the first person to stop Shawn Porter, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t terrifying to all the commentators from ESPN.
“Shawn didn’t seem like he was in the best shape. You ask the commentators from ESPN, and they’ll say, ‘That was the greatest performance in Shawn Porter’s career,’ and I beg to differ.
“Not just because I fought Shawn Porter, but I just believe that his performances against Thurman, his performances against Errol Spence, especially the Spence fight.
“I was right after the Pacquiao fight, which was a tremendous fight in 2019 in the summer. I thought it was going to be a hard fight to follow up when it comes to entertainment,” said Thurman.
Thurman may look old and past it when he faces Mario Barrios on February 5th in Las Vegas.
Thurman has been out of the ring for almost three years, and he’s not going to be ready for a grueling fight that Barrios will bring to him.
Unless Barrios has lost something from his recent eleventh round knockout loss to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis last June, he could give Thurman a tough fight and might beat him.