Boxing

Keith Thurman Reaps Benefits of Spence-Crawford Collapse

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It could be argued that Keith Thurman has a deeper resume than both Errol Spence and Terence Crawford, the two universally recognized top dogs in the welterweight division. Actually, Thurman’s superior body of work would not be in dispute at all if not for a 2019 split decision loss to Manny Pacquiao and an injury-plagued period of time which hobbled his ability to stay active.

But while the Florida native may now be an afterthought in the “who’s no. 1” debate, there’s no denying the weight of his resume. Victories over Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Luis Collazo, Robert Guerrero, and Carlos Quintana (among others) rank him high on the list of top welterweights of the last 20 years or so.

And now the WBC has given Thurman the chance to regain a no. 1 spot in the division with their ordering of an Errol Spence-Keith Thurman title fight.

Spence is the reigning WBA/WBC/IBF world champ and was tied to a unification clash with WBO titlist Terence Crawford until those talks fell apart and Crawford moved on to a disproportionately big-money bout with fringe contender David Avanesyan, December 10th on the upstart streaming service BLK Prime. The vacuum created by the collapsed welterweight mega-fight opened the door for Thurman to possibly step in against PBC stablemate Spence.

The former WBC and WBA world champ last fought in February of this year, when he decisioned former junior welterweight titlist Mario Barrios. Before that, “One Time” had fought, precisely, one time since January of 2019– the aforementioned loss to Pacquiao.

Thurman’s level of activity, however, has been overall poor for quite a few years now. Hampered by injury and outside-the-ring distraction, he only fought once in 2016, once in 2017, twice in 2019, and, so far, just once in 2022.

Still, aside from Spence and Crawford and emerging young stars Jaron “Boots” Ennis and Vergil Ortiz Jr., Thurman has top dog status in the areas of name value and drawing power– and he seems keenly aware of that in negotiations.

According to Ennis’ father and trainer, Bozy Ennis, Thurman was impossibly demanding in recent talks to face his son, reportedly demanding $10 million to take the risky bout.

“Thurman wanted $10 million to fight Boots. Come on, man. You don’t make $10 million. Why would you want $10 million to fight Boots? I know it’s high-risk, low reward, but you never made $10 million fighting Manny Pacquiao,” Ennis told “In This Corner Boxing 24”.

One could probably expect more of the same if/when talks begin to face Spence. He’ll definitely have good leverage in negotiations, though, as Spence will need a “name” opponent for his next bout as well as a credible challenge to deflect some of the criticism fallout coming his way after the Crawford fight failed to materialize.

Given that both fighters are advised by Al Haymon and both fight under the PBC banner, it’s safe to assume that talks will go more smoothly than the Spence-Crawford talks. But, still, it’s a big fight to put together when one side is going to ask for the moon and stars while the other feels somewhat backed into a corner. It’s definitely not a guarantee that it falls into place at all.

Rumors have been swirling that Spence-Thurman is targeted for a 2022 date, which gives everyone just about a month to get everything together. More realistic is February-March of 2023– if it happens at all.

If Thurman and Spence can’t get together, expect Spence to move on to a second-tier challenge and a return to Crawford unification speculation. Thurman, meanwhile, will go back to his apparent plan of the last several years– stay on the sidelines and wait for something big to fall into his lap.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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