Q&A: Thurman targets Mayweather one fight at a time
Unbeaten welterweight contender Keith “One Time” Thurman was ringside at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for Saturday night’s unanimous decision by Floyd Mayweather Jr. that dethroned Canelo Alvarez as RING and WBC junior middleweight champion.
In victory over Alvarez, Mayweather also defended the WBA 154-pound belt he captured by unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto last year. In the fight before Alvarez, Mayweather, 36, defended his WBC welterweight belt by unanimous decision against former titleholder Robert Guerrero to become THE RING’s 147-pound champion.
A 24-year-old who is coming off of July’s 10th-round knockout of previously unbeaten Diego Chaves for his 10th stoppage in his past 11 bouts, Thurman (21-0, 19 KOs) is itching to thrust himself into the Mayweather sweepstakes.
Following Mayweather’s triumph over Alvarez, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer listed the No. 1-rated pound-for-pound fighter’s options as potentially including fighters covering the 147-, 154-, and, even the 160-pound divisions.
Broached was was a rematch with Cotto, who had won three straight by knockout before falling to Mayweather, and who lost a subsequent unanimous decision to Austin Trout last December. Cotto will return to the ring on Oct. 5 against Delvin Rodriguez.
Former undisputed middleweight champion and RING light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins said that he would love to face Mayweather at 160 pounds should he get beyond an Oct. 26 defense of his IBF 175-pound belt opposite Karo Murat.
Another consideration is RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia, who scored an 11th-round knockdown on the way to a unanimous decision over No. 1-rated Lucas Matthysse on the Mayweather-Alvarez card in what Garcia said would be his final bout as a 140-pounder.
But not yet Thurman, who has called out Mayweather in the past, as well as titleholders Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander.
Schaefer confirmed to RingTV.com that he had tried to match Thurman with Guerrero but said that Guerrero declined the offer.
Thurman could face Jesus Soto Karass, who rose from an 11th-round knockdown to drop and stop former two-time welterweight beltholder Andre Berto in the 12th round in July.
RingTV.com: What did you think of the way Mayeather and Alvarez fought?
Keith Thurman: For the most part, the fight went how I thought that it would go. I was expecting Canelo to be in the best shape of his life just because the contract called for him to be at 152.
I expected him to do some things in training camp, and to be able to make the weight easily. It is only a two pound under what he normally fights at. So I was hoping that that would make him go out there, run a few more miles, and that his conditioning was going to be really good.
Canelo was looking good for the first three rounds, but I was just hoping to see that throughout the whole fight. The difference was that Canelo faded throughout the fight.
But we all know that Floyd Mayweather doesn’t fade. Floyd did what he always does. It took him a while to get his distance and timing down.
It took a round or two for Floyd to start really figuring Canelo out. From then on, Floyd just started to dominate the fight. Once again, he was just another easy victory and a beautiful boxing lesson.
RingTV.com: Were you at all surprised that your name didn’t come up as a potential opponent for Mayweather, and do you feel that it will between now and May, when he has targeted his return to the ring?
KT: I’m not surprised. The main reason for that would be because I have not acquired a world title. The names that were mentioned were either champions or ex-world champions. And that’s who Floyd likes to fight.
Floyd likes to fight those who he knows that have a belt. That way, he can add to his resume. I think that Floyd happens to be one of the best belt collectors that there is out there.
So, that doesn’t really surprise me, because I feel like he would mention me if I was currently one of the world champions. So, it’s up to me to try to get put on that roster.
I just have to finish off this year, and then we’ve got to go and grab the world title next year. Hopefully, somewhere by next year, you’ll start to hear my name and Floyd’s name popping up together.
RingTV.com: What sort of a challenge would it be for you if you were mentioned, and would it have been too early, say, by May, for you to be ready to handle the type of atmosphere that a fight against Mayweather involves?
KT: I think that a lot of people would think that it’s too soon, but I’m ready to be a champion, and I’m ready to take out any champion. So if it’s Floyd Mayweather, this guy, that guy, it doesn’t matter.
To me, I’m ready to be on that world-class level and to break into that elite group of fighters. I’ve been boxing and training my whole life, and I have a lot of passion and a lot of desire to be a champion.
The big stage, that doesn’t affect me, as you can see from my last fight, even though a Mayweather fight is a little bit more glitzy, and a little bit more glamor, and a little bit more in the limelight.
At the end of the day, the ring has four corners, and there’s two men in the ring. So, I’m mentally preparing for it every single day.
I’m grateful to have a great state of mind the day of the fight, and to experience that atmosphere from the outside, that kind of helps fighters to be prepared, just to be in that atmosphere.
I’m ready, man. I’m just ready to do my job, just like every other fighter. I’m going to continue to do my thing one fight at a time.
But, I’ve been telling everybody, there’s only a few more steps on the ladder, and as I knock off a few more guys, I’m getting closer to the top toward getting that big money fight.
RingTV.com: What is your understanding of who has been mentioned and of what is happening in those fights?
KT: The last thing that I’ve heard is that Soto Karass would be happy to take a fight with me, so I haven’t heard too much since that statement.
That’s pretty much just because of all of the effort that has gone into promoting the Mayweather fight. Hopefully, within a week or so, the negotiations will start to get finalized.
Then, we’ll get closer to knowing exactly what’s going to go down, and if that opponent is going to be the opponent or not. So I’m still on standby.
I’m just waiting for that final phone call, which will hopefully come soon. But Soto Karass, that’s what we’re hearing.
RingTV.com: What is your understanding of the situation with Guerrero?
KT: That went down. That was who we tried to get first. He was proposed the fight by Richard Schaefer, and he said “No thanks.” I don’t know what he’s doing in his career right now.
I just know that he didn’t have a fight lined up. He’s a great fighter and I was hoping to step into the ring with one of the big names out there. But obviously, he’s just another one that doesn’t want to fight Keith Thurman.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]