By Jack Tiernan: Keith Thurman has made a BIG mistake, says Mario Barrios, in choosing him as his tune-up opponent next Saturday, February 5th, for their main event fight on FOX Sports pay-per-view at the Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada. The selling price for Thurman’s comeback is $74.95 on PPV.
(Photo credit: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)
There’s an excellent chance that the young 26-year-old ‘El Azteca’ Barrios will send Thurman into retirement with a knockout victory.
Former four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz will be making his comeback against an obscure second-tier fighter named Keenan Carbajal in the co-feature.
It’s unclear whether they found Carbajal, but he’s not a contender, which is understandable given that Santa Cruz (37-2-19 KOs) is coming off a long 16-month layoff and a brutal sixth round knockout loss to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis.
It would be criminal for Santa Cruz to be fighting a quality opponent after getting knocked out the way he did against Tank Davis.
Keith stuck in the past
For a brief time, Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) was at the top of the welterweight division as the #1 fighter, but due to injuries, two lengthy periods of inactivity, he lost his perch as the best.
The 33-year-old Thurman is having difficulty dealing with his aging and failing to come to terms with him not being the fighter he was once. He foolishly thinks he can be the fighter he was many years ago, but it’s not possible.
Now after almost three years out of the ring, former WBA/WBC welterweight champion Thurman is making a SECOND comeback against former WBA ‘regular’ light welterweight champion Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs), who is still in his prime at 26-years-old and ready to send the old lion into retirement.
This isn’t even the first comeback for Thurman, which is the troubling part about it. The Florida native Thurman already had two years of inactivity from 2017 to 2019, and when he came, he looked like a shell of his former self.
He struggled to beat gatekeeper Josesito Lopez in January 2019 and then lost to then 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao in July of that year.
Fast forward to 2022, Thurman is still having a difficult time trying to sense of what happened to him. He talks endlessly of what he could and should have done in the Pacquiao fight, and it’s clear that Thurman isn’t living in the “NOW’ that he speaks about.
Like an older person, Thurman is living in the past on a daily basis, replaying the stale images of Pacquiao fight in his mind like a grainy black & white movie, thinking about how things could have been different if only.
Two other undercard fights:
- Abel Ramos vs. Lucas Santamaria
- Luis Nery vs. Carlos Castro
Thurman making a mistake
“I’m getting older; I spent time out of the ring,” said Thurman to PBC on FOX. “Keith Thurman has accomplished about everything he wanted out of the sport of boxing.
“I’ve achieved so much. If I was done today, I’ve got so much to be proud of. It’s not about the fight. It’s not about Mario Barrios. It’s really about being the best fighter I can be,” said Thurman.
“I’m excited for this opportunity,” said Barrios. “I’m excited about showcasing my abilities against a very good opponent who has been in with a lot of great fighters.
“I think he’s making a mistake if he’s thinking of me as a tune-up fight,” said Barrios of Thurman. “I’m a dangerous fighter fighting at a much more comfortable weight .
“I think I can definitely hurt anyone I step in there with. Keith Thurman, he’s no different,” said Barrios. “Physically, mentally, spiritually, I’m ready for this fight.”
Barrios is right about Thurman making a mistake in selecting him as a tune-up opponent instead of a lower-level fighter. But in Thurman’s case, he had little choice because due to the money that he gets paid, his fight had to be on pay-per-view.
The only way Thurman can sell on PPV is by fighting a live body, and it could prove to be a major mistake on his part.
Marios on being underestimated
“Come February 5th, he’s going to be in there with Mario Barrios. He hasn’t fought anybody like me,” said Barrios.
“There are no doubts going into this fight. I’m trying to solidify my mark in the welterweight division, “Barrios continued.
“Boxing has given me plenty of opportunities to change my life around and impact my family. I’m excited about this opportunity to go out there and showcase my skills and abilities against a very tough opponent, someone who has been in there with a lot of great fighters.
“If he is underestimating me and looking at this as a tune-up fight. I’m a dangerous fighter. It won’t be his night. I’ll be ready for anything he brings on fight night,” said Barrios.
I doubt that Thurman is underestimating Barrios. He’s just in a tough spot because of his purse demands.
They couldn’t stick a journeyman in there with Thurman and expect the boxing public to happily pay $75 to watch the mismatch on FOX Sports PPV.
If Thurman didn’t care about being paid good money, they could have brought him back slowly against a journeyman fighter, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.
So if Thurman loses to Barrios on Saturday, he only has himself to blame. If he was willing to take less money by NOT fighting on PPV, he could have fought a lesser fighter fitting for an aging 33-year-old coming off a three-year layoff.
‘One Time’ says he’ll dominate 147-lb division
“Thurman is back 100%, back to dominate the welterweight division like I once did,” said Thurman. “They know this is the Thurman they first fell in love with. This is the Thurman that gets them excited to watch boxing.
“Every day of my life, I think boxing, and I do like this state of mind. I like my focus; I like my drive and determination. Now I’m back on the chase, back on the grind.
“I don’t worry about people’s opinions, whether they see this fight as a 50-50, whether they see Thurman as being washed up. Let the people say what they’re going to say, and let me do what I was born to do.
“My name is ‘One Time’ for a reason. I lost one time. We’re not losing anymore. Due to that calmness, we can make those sharp decisions in a split second,” said Thurman about how his Yoga affects his boxing.
“If you can control your breath, you can most likely control the fight. For me, I feel like we’ve opened up a new chapter in the book of my life.
I hate to say it but Thurman sounds utterly delusional with his talk of dominating the welterweight division as he did many moons ago.
In any sport, if you sit on your backside, getting fat like Thurman, you’re not going to come back to be the athlete that you once were.
Even Muhammad Ali wasn’t the same after he sat out of the ring for two years due to his draft issues. When Ali came back, he was slower and not the fighter he’d been.
Thurman warns Mario
“This chapter of being one of the most exciting welterweights in the welterweight division,” said Thurman. “Striving to get back on top. Because of what I’ve gone through, I am who I am today.
“The welterweight division is a very different division, and Mario Barrios will discover that for himself. At 33-years-old, I like where I’m at today.
“I’ve got my team that has never left my side, and I’ve got all that I need to do what needs to be done. February 5th, it’s up to me, and I’m ready,” said Thurman.
I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that Barrios is going to be a major player in moving up to welterweight. He’s just a decent former 140-lb paper champion that is being brought in with the hopes that he’ll help sell the PPV, and won’t beat Thurman.
I think he might, which will obviously make Premier Boxing Champions unhappy.
It’s painfully obvious that Thurman’s days are numbered with his career. ‘One Time’ Thurman is like an old car, spitting out blue smoke from its gas pipe, engine completely shot, and totally unreliable as transportation.