Mario Barrios: Keith Thurman struggles against combination punchers

Mario Barrios says he and his team have studied the flaws in former welterweight champion Keith Thurman’s game and pinpointed two areas they believe they can exploit on Saturday night.

Thurman will be making his comeback after a long layoff against former WBA light welterweight champion Barrios on FOX Sports PPV at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas. After nearly three years, Thurman has decided that the time is right for him to return to the ring to regain his #1 spot at 147.

Many boxing fans believe that Thurman is too late to recapture his top spot, as he’s been 4 out of the last five years due to injuries and a lack of motivation to return. At best, Thurman will get a big payday fight against Errol Spence Jr. or Terence Crawford.

The 33-year-old former WBA/WBC 147-lb champion Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) struggles against fighters that throw sustained combinations, according to Barrios.

While Thurman is good at eluding the first one or two shots thrown at him, he gets nailed by the third and fourth, and he’s highly vulnerable. That’s one of the reasons 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao had such incredible success against ‘One Time’ Thurman in their fight in 2019.

The other flaw Barrios noted in Thurman’s game is his vulnerability when he backs away when being attacked. That’s a style that Thurman has used his entire career, and it’s primarily worked because he’d never fought any elite-level fighters until his match against an aging Pacquiao.

Before that, the best guys that Thurman fought in his career were Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, neither of which were elite welterweights.

Thurman uses the pull-back style that many fighters employ, but it makes him predictable and wide open for shots.

Barrios highlights One Time’s flaws

“I d0n’t make too much of the face-offs. All that matters to me is we’re fighting,” said Mario Barrios to Fight Hub TV when asked what was he thinking during his face-off with Thurman.

Mario Barrios: Keith Thurman struggles against combination punchers

“I’ve been around him before, but I don’t think he took too much notice of me. I knew how big he was as far as stature, but I usually have the height and reach advantage,” said Barrios.

“I just think it’s different tactics that fighters use,” said Barrios when asked about Thurman trying to stare him down during their face-off.

“They don’t excite me or get me motivated because the only thing that gets me motivated is knowing I’m going to be in the ring with him on Saturday.

“He was trying to bring that intensity, but for me, it’s just a staredown. I hope so because any victory over a Keith Thurman less than 100%, it’s not good enough for me,” said Barrios when asked if he believes that Thurman will be less than the fighter he was 2.5  years ago when he last fought in 2019.

“In that fight, he showed that he struggles with combination punchers.  That’s how Pacquiao was landing his punches,” Barrios said when asked what he learned from watching Thurman’s loss to Manny Pacquiao in July 2019.

“It wasn’t the first two that were landing. It was the last two of the combinations, and it showed that Thurman is a great fighter, but Thurman does have vulnerabilities. I’m looking to exploit those on Saturday.

“Yeah, we did our studies throughout camp. We picked up on the habits that we needed to, and I’m going into this camp confident, knowing that we did everything right with our game plan. I’m going to try and execute it as best as I can, really,” said Barrios.

Not only is Thurman vulnerable against combination punchers, but also fighters that push a fast pace and don’t let him rest. When Thurman is forced to fight for a full three minutes of each round, he gets ragged and starts getting hit.

If Barrios puts a lot of pressure on the aging, inactive Thurman, something will give.

When a fighter has been sitting around at home for four out of the last five years as Thurman has, their stamina is not going to be what it once was.

If Thurman were younger in his mid-20s like Barrios, his four years of inactivity wouldn’t be so bad, but he’s 33 and looks closer to 38.

Thurman has aged since his last fight against Pacquiao in 2019, and Barrios will likely take advantage of that on Saturday.

Thurman gasses out in fights 

“I’m expecting a hard 12 rounds, really,” Barrios said. “We know he has a chin, we know he can take a punch, but he’s also shown in a lot of his fights that he starts to gas out. He becomes more vulnerable as the rounds go on.

“I’m just looking to exploit all the things that we’ve picked up on and utilizing our game plan as best as I can.

“This moment means everything. It’s huge for me. Just walking around and seeing my name on these signs on the MGM and everywhere. It’s something that fighters dream of since we were kids.

“This opportunity is here once again headlining pay-per-view, and I’m just looking to take full advantage of it.

“I’m jumping full-in. I’m at 147, and I can’t go back down to 140 anymore,” said Barrios when asked if he’ll be returning to the light welterweight division after his fight with Thurman on Saturday.

In Thurman’s last three fights, he faded in the second half of each of them and struggled with the pressure that was being put on him. Pacquiao took control over the fight with Thurman and dominated the second half.

Danny Garcia did the same thing but wasn’t given the decision in their fight in 2017. To this day, Danny still feels that he did enough to deserve the victory.

In Thurman’s fight against Josesito Lopez, he was staggered in the second half and almost knocked out.  If Thurman gasses out against Barrios, he might get knocked out.

We saw how Barrios had Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis looking desperate after seven rounds. If not for Floyd Mayweather Jr’s pep talk after the seventh, Tank might have lost that fight.

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