Keith Thurman: Undefeated and dangerous
MANILA, Philippines—Whatever the outcome on Sunday, the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman for the WBA Super World welterweight title is a clash of different eras.
Pacquiao, the “regular” WBA welterweight champion, was one of the most iconic figures of boxing during the 2000s when he racked up most of his titles across a record eight weight classes.
Thurman, meanwhile, holds the WBA Super World welterweight belt and is considered as one of the best welterweights of this era—which is a lofty distinction on itself as the 147-pound division is one of the most stacked classes in the sport.
If Thurman (29-0) beats Pacquiao (61-7-2), his name could now ring louder in the weight division where two of its champions belong in the top 10 of The Ring’s Pound for pound list.
But who is Keith “One Time” Thurman?
For starters, the man who likes to address himself in the third person is just one of the four World champions in the welterweight division—a weight class that has three of its titleholders owning undefeated records.
Pacquiao is a champion for the WBA but the sanctioning body holds the Super champion in higher regard than its “regular” champion, meaning Thurman’s belt will be the one up for grabs on Sunday (Manila time) MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Thurman is also the third-best welterweight in The Ring Magazine’s ratings sitting behind WBO champion Terence Crawford (35-0) and IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. (25-0); both of whom are in the top 10 of the Pound for pound list with the former at no.6 and the latter at no.2.
The fourth-best best welterweight in The Ring’s ratings is WBC champion Shawn Porter (30-2-1) and he lost to Thurman back in 2016.
Pacquiao, for his part, is at no.5 in The Ring’s welterweight ratings.
Although Thurman is now part welterweight’s royalty, he started his professional career as a light middleweight going 19-0 in the 154-lb division, 18 of which ending via knockout while his fight against Edvan dos Santos Barros was won through unanimous decision.
His last fight in the 154-lb weight class earned him the WBO NABO super welterweight title when he scored a technical knockout victory over Carlos Quintana on Nov. 24, 2012.
Just four months after that fight, Thurman moved down to welterweight and beat Jan Zaveck via unanimous decision for the WBO Intercontinental welterweight champion and although his move to a lighter weight class gave him the mainstream notoriety, that also put an end to his constant KO victories.
In his 9 fights in the welterweight division, Thurman produced two stoppage wins—his 10th round knockout of Diego Chaves for the interim WBA belt and his ninth round TKO of Jesus Karass in the title defense.
Thurman did continue to rack up wins but his last two fights left much for debate.
His victory against Garcia for the WBA Super and WBC World welterweight titles saw Thurman go from aggressive to passive throughout the match when he dictated the match in the early rounds only to backpedal in the final frames, as if knowing that he already had the belts in his bag.
Thurman barely got away with the split decision win after Garcia became the aggressor in the latter rounds.
Less than a year after winning WBC’s title, Thurman relinquished the green-and-gold belt after injuries prevented him to defend the championship against Porter in the sanctioning body’s mandatory bout.
Instead of holding on to the title, Thurman decided to relinquish the belt but he still held on to the WBA Super title that he successfully defended against Josesito Lopez via majority decision on Jan. 26, 2019.
Thurman got the nod of judges Tom Schreck and Steve Weisfeld, 117-109 and 115-111, but Don Ackerman scored the bout 113-113.
Although Thurman knocked Lopez down in the second round with a left hook to the chin, the challenger had his moment of brilliance in the seventh round pinning the undefeated American to the ropes that nearly prompted referee Steve Willis to stop the fight.
Despite Thurman’s recent struggles, the brash champion is still one of the most dangerous fighters in one of the sport’s deepest division.