Rising star Keith Thurman is ready to do the business against former world champion Julio Diaz this weekend before going after IBF champion Shawn Porter.
The highly touted Thurman, who has been making serious waves in the welterweight division, goes up against the experienced Diaz, who ran Amir Khan extremely close 12 months ago, this Saturday night at the StubHub Center in California, live on BoxNation.
Florida native Thurman’s reputation continues to grow with many in the sport predicating that he will be the man to rule over the 147 pound weight class in the near future, but first one of boxing’s biggest punchers must show the hype is for real as he faces his sternest test yet.
“What excites me most is being in the main event. They could have put me on other cards as a co-feature, but this shows me respect and I want to thank Golden Boy for that,” said Thurman, who has amassed a record of 20 knockouts in his 22 wins.
“Every fighter has to take it one fight at a time, and I’m going in on Saturday to do my job. Winning on Saturday is obviously very important. Others in my division are already name-fighters, but I’m just starting to build mine.
“I’m still coming up in the world of boxing. So this is a chance for me to show that I’m not like all others,” he said.
The unbeaten 25-year-old has proven to have a crowd pleasing style, which he refuses to change, and will continue with that against the respected Diaz.
“I expect Diaz to fight his heart out,” said Thurman. “He says he plans to knock me out. I don’t know if that’s fight hype or his strategy, but I’ll be ready. I want guys who come to fight. I want to make and be in the best fights. On my record I have an ‘O’ but I’m not afraid to let it go.
“I work very hard and count my blessings that I’m where I’m at. I love the support the fans give me. We’re going to give them a real fight on Saturday,” he said.
A potential fight which has been mooted for later this year is a clash with the current IBF welterweight world champion Porter.
The all-action Porter, who recently blasted his way past Paulie Malignaggi in a highly impressive knockout win, has gone from strength-to-strength since he faced Diaz in two closely contested bouts, prior to capturing his world title against Devon Alexander last year.
Thurman is aware of how closely Diaz ran Porter but is eyeing up the possibility of facing the Ohio man should he prevail in his next fight.
“Diaz had some great performances against Shawn Porter and he gave Amir Khan a great fight. Diaz is a former world champion. They say he’s a veteran with a lot of experience. But I’m 25 and have been at this for 18 years, so I’m a veteran, too,” he said.
“I’ve known Shawn Porter and his Dad for years. I know they’re calling me out. When the time is right, we’ll fight. I expect to fight for maybe another 10 years,” Thurman added.
34-year-old Diaz, however, believes he is no one to overlook having been counted out on many occasions before springing a surprise.
The two-time world champion believes he can do much of the same when he faces off against one of boxing’s most touted prospects.
“They said I was an old man three years ago and said it was time for me to retire. Actually, I’ve been hearing the same thing for 15 years. They said it when I lost my title. They said it when I got knocked out. But I’m still here,” said Diaz.
“I’ve always felt like a world champion, which is a reason that I’m able to come back and win fights no one thinks I can. The biggest mistake I made, I think, was staying at lightweight too long. I think I fought at 135 for 12-13 years,” he explained.
“Going against Thurman is a very dangerous opportunity for me, but one I have to take. I have to take a big risk in any fight that comes my way to get the big reward.
“Keith Thurman is for real. He’s getting all the attention. But that’s the way it always is before my fights. Let’s see what they’re saying after our fight on Saturday,” said Diaz.
Saturday night’s card is stacked with some of the biggest hitting stars around, with Argentine ace Lucas Matthysse making his ring return following his thriller against Danny Garcia last September when he steps in against another puncher in John Molina.
World title action on the night sees the heavy handed Omar Figueroa defend his WBC lightweight belt against fellow Texan Jerry Belmontes.
Also, this Sunday from 7pm, BoxNation viewers will be able to see the premiere of episode two ‘All Access: Mayweather v Maidana’ as we delve into their respective camps ahead of the mega showdown next Saturday night.
Thurman vs. Diaz is live on BoxNation (Sky 437/490HD & Virgin 546) this Saturday night. Visit www.boxnation.com to subscribe.