By Dan Ambrose: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman revealed on Tuesday that his fight against Mario Barrios on February 5th would be a WBC welterweight title eliminator to determine the mandatory for champion Errol ‘Spence Jr. This could be Thurman’s best year as a pro if things go right for him with him beating Barrios and Spence.
This is terrible news for WBO 147-lb champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford because instead of Thurman facing him next, as previously he would do, he’s going to be fighting for the WBC title against whoever holds the strap by the time he battles for it.
Needless to say, Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) is ecstatic about fighting in a WBC title eliminator because if he defeats Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs), he’ll have the opportunity to fight for three world titles against the Spence vs. Yordenis Ugas winner of their April fight.
Spence holds the IBF & WBC 147-lb belts, whereas Ugas is the WBA champion. So, the winner of that fight will have three titles, which puts Thurman in position to snatch three straps later this year.
Thurman and Barrios will be headlining on FOX Sports pay-per-view on February 5th at the Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas.
This is the first fight for the 33-year-old Thurman since losing his WBA 147-lb title to Manny Pacquiao in July 2019.
Thurman says Barrios fight = WBC title eliminator
“I would have to say he’s NOT on the list,” said Keith Thurman said to FOX Sports when asked if Terence Crawford was next for him. “I love the fight. I love fighting these undefeated welterweight champions.
“I want the belts, but the WBC approached me for a weigh-in check,” said Thurman. “I said, ‘Why is the WBC approaching me for a weigh-in check? I don’t hold a WBC title.’
“Mario Barrios doesn’t hold a WBC title. They have no right to check my weight UNLESS this fight on February 5th is a title eliminator, which I knew was a strong possibility of being on the books.
“So if it hasn’t been fully announced, this is my way of announcing it. I know that what they do in boxing is for a reason, and I know the only reason the WBC can request such a thing a week prior to a fight. ‘Where’s your weight, champ?’
“It’s because this fight will be a 12 round title eliminator for the WBC,” said Thurman. “So, whoever holds the WBC title later this year is most likely who Keith Thurman will be fighting [next], and I look forward to that challenge, I look forward to that opportunity.
“After that, we can take about other champions. Suppose something were to happen politically, and I don’t get the opportunity to force the WBC champion to face Keith Thurman, then with the contract and the fight proposal. In that case, I’ll be more than open to fighting Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford,” said ‘One Time’ Thurman.
‘One Time’ Thurman hit the lottery with the World Boxing Council choosing to make his fight with Barrios a WBC 147-lb title eliminator. It’s not just Thurman that can capitalize on this. Barrios can take advantage of it if he wins this fight.
Can you imagine how happy Barrios will be if he defeats Thurman and then fights the Spence vs. Ugas clash winner? We’re talking about a massive payday for Barrios.
The money that Barrios made last year against Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis would be chump change compared to what he’d get fighting the Spence-Ugas winner.
Keith hoping to fight Spence vs. Ugas winner
“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that it would be a dream come true,” said Thurman about him potentially fighting for three titles against the winner of the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Yordenis Ugas fight.
“I love everything that I’ve accomplished in my career, but ever since I was a young amateur fighter, the highest accolade is being called the undisputed champion of the world.
“So, I unified the WBA and WBC the night I beat Danny Garcia. To be a unified welterweight champion was the highlight of my career today.
“So to have the opportunity to fight later this year for three belts, it would be the next level. It would be above the opportunity I had for Pacquiao pay-per-view. It would just be. It would be a dream come true. That’s what I’m all about.
“I would be really grateful, and I would work really hard to put in the best performance of my career,” Thurman said.
For Thurman’s sake, he’d better hope that he still has something left in the tank because if he loses to Barrios, he can forget about fighting the winner of the Spence-Ugas bout.
The thing is, we don’t know if Thurman has anything left after being out of the ring for close to three years. In his last two fights in 2019 against Josesito Lopez and Manny Pacquiao, he looked terrible.
For those two fights, Thurman was coming off a two-year break. Thurman’s inactivity from 2017 to 2019 took something from his game.
Sadly, now Thurman has done it again with him staying out of the ring for OVER two years since his loss to Pacquiao in 2019.
Like I was saying, Thurman could lose to the 26-year-old Barrios because of ring rust. Barrios is in his prime right now, but you can’t say that about Thurman any longer.
Thurman predicted explosive night on Feb.5th
“It’s going to be explosive,” said Thurman about his fight against Barrios on February 5th. “You’re going to see a Keith Thurman that is really determined and reanimated and just ready to fight and take on all comers and challengers and be champion once again.
“That’s the kind of performance I want to bring to the table; I want to steal the show. We got great fights on that card, man. February 5th is going to be a tremendous night of boxing in general.
“We’ve got some great match-ups from the welterweight division to the lighter weight divisions. We got Leo Santa Cruz and the comeback for myself, Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman.
“I love all my fans. Everybody that’s excited about this fight, looking forward to seeing Keith Thurman. “Everyone that’s excited about Mario Barrios. I respect everybody. I love the sport of boxing. I know there’s controversy, and I know you’re not going to love every single fight.
“But I’m just looking forward to getting back in the ring and putting on a tremendous performance for you, for myself, and for the sport of boxing in general.
“So that’s what you can expect on February 5th. A tremendous night of boxing,” said Thurman.
It’s going to be exciting on February 5th to see Thurman fighting Barrios with so much on the line. There’s a lot for Thurman to lose in this fight now.