By Dan Ambrose: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman says he wants to challenge both IBF/WBC Errol Spence Jr. and WBO welterweight champions Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford after he faces Mario Barrios in his get-back fight on February 5th.
Keith states that he has no preference for which champion he faces between the unbeaten Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) and Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs).
Ultimately, it’ll be determined by his adviser Al Haymon, who will draw up a contract and send it to one or both of those champions next year for former WBA/WBC 147-lb champion Thurman to fight.
‘One Time’ must beat Barrios
First things first, Thurman, 33, must win his comeback fight against former WBA 140-lb champion Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs) on February 5th on FOX PPV at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
With Thurman coming back from a long 31-month layoff, it’s impossible to predict what kind of performance he’ll put in.
Thurman is likely assuming that his body has been in suspended animation since his loss to Manny Pacquiao in July 2019 and that he’ll be able just to pick up where he left off in that fight.
Frankly, Thurman looked like he was only 70% of what he once was in that fight against a 40-year-old Pacquiao after fighting just once against Josesito Lopez after coming back from a 22-month layoff.
You can only imagine how much Thurman has lost from his game from his latest 31 month time off from boxing.
It won’t surprise this writer if Thurman is only 50% of the fighter he was in his prime, which might not be enough to defeat Barrios.
If Thurman loses to Barrios, he’d be an excellent example of what other young fighters shouldn’t do after they get a taste of money.
You don’t go and sit on your backside for three years, eating and enjoying the money. You’ll have time enough to sit on his backside, smelling the daisies after you retire.
Thurman could fight three times in 2022
“If I get back to work for real this year, we’re going to get check-1, check-2, and check-3,” said Keith Thurman to DAZN on his comeback. “I’m ready, it’s been a long time coming, and I want to go to work.
“I’m not done,” Thurman continued. “There’s only one beautiful thing about not being in the ring. Come on now, I ain’t been beat up, and I’m not taken blows to the head. So, I got work to be done.
“There’s plenty of work to be had. The welterweight division is stacked. I may not be a current champion, but you best believe that Thurman against all these current champions is a tremendous fight, and I’m a tremendous challenge.
“They can underdog me and whatever they want to do about me, and that’s why we’re getting back in the ring and reminding people about what Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman does in the sport of boxing. I bring the action, I bring the entertainment, and I bring great fights,” said Thurman.
Given Thurman’s poor track record for staying active, it’s unreasonable to assume that he’ll fight three times in 2022. If anything, fighting once will be the best boxing fans can expect from him.
Thurman will likely suffer some injury in the Barrios fight and then wind up milking the injury and not returning for 18 to 24 months.
Thurman is so predictable when it comes to him taking extended breaks after his fights, and you could figure that he’ll continue to do what he’s done in the past.
Keith wants Spence & Crawford title shots
Errol Spence Jr. already said he’ll never fight Thurman, and you have to believe that he was serious. Spence will only give Thurman a chance to capture his two titles if Al Haymon talks him into it.
“Spence and Crawford are both on the table,” said Thurman when asked to pick between one that he would prefer to face for a world title. “Look, I want the biggest fight. First off, come on, you know boxing. We don’t forecast the season.
“This is not basketball, this is not football, and out of respect for the sport of boxing for what it truly is, I do not forecast a season. I do not have a contract that says, ‘After Barrios, there will be Terence Crawford.’
“There is no real schedule. We have plans. To be honest, I don’t have a real preference. I think they’re both good fights, and I want both of them,” said Thurman about wanting to fight Crawford and Spence.
“Can I have both of them? I want both of them. The only problem with wanting two things at one time is you can only do one thing at a time. We’re just going to have to see which one is presented, and like I tell everybody when I see a contract, I negotiate, and then I sign; it’s that simple.
One Time hoping for a title shot
Considering now needy Crawford is in terms of wanting a big fight, that’s a match that will be there for Thurman if he doesn’t disappear into domestic life and enjoy himself at home without fighting for another two years.
If Thurman does come back for the second fight in 2022, and that’s a big IF, the Crawford title shot will be there for him.
The 34-year-old Crawford needs the fight with Thurman more than the other way around because he’s got the young lions Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis and Vergil Ortiz Jr. breathing down his neck.
“The problem with Bob [Arum] is, they never even sent me a contract,” said Thurman. “They were just talking words, giving me low numbers. I said, ‘stop this drama. Call Al [Haymon] and write up a contract.’ That never happened, so the fight never happened.
“It’s really as simple as that. Not only am I a world-class fighter, but there’s some back-end business. We don’t get too in-depth about it, but the real fighters understand how it goes.
“So after this fight [Barrios], I’m looking forward to a contract. That contract will have Terence Crawford or Errol Spence. I think the bigger fight is Spence because he’s the unified champion. There are rumors about him and Yordenis Ugas, which would bring three belts together.
“I do think that would be the bigger of the two, but we also heard, ‘Spence don’t even want to talk to Thurman. Spence don’t even want to negotiate with Thurman.’
“We’ve heard these things, but to me, it doesn’t matter until the real talk and the real negotiations, and until Al Haymon lets him know, ‘Yo, this is a big fight. I don’t need a rematch clause. Just come and see your body, One Time. That’s all,” said Thurman.