Keith Thurman: ‘When I bring it 100 percent, I’m dangerous for anybody’
The trainer of welterweight Keith Thurman expects the Clearwater, Fla., resident to deliver another knockout victory when he faces Leonard Bundu in a clash of unbeatens on Dec. 13.
But if Thurman does what his cornerman, Dan Birmingham believes he is capable of doing, it will come as no surprise given Thurman (23-0, 21 knockouts) has shown improvement with every fight.
Nicknamed “One Time,” Thurman is coming off a third-round TKO of former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz in April and could earn his fourth consecutive stoppage win against Bundu (31-0-2, 11 KOs) in support a Showtime tripleheader headlined by 147-pounders Amir Khan and Devon Alexander at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“This is the world of boxing. I’ve shown people that I can do well against challengers from all around the world. I’m getting whoever I can get and facing good competition,” said Thurman.
“For this fight, I wanted to face somebody with a good record and this guy is undefeated and has a great record and I look forward to fighting him. The dude knows how to box, so it should be a good match-up for however long it lasts.”
Last December, Thurman scored a ninth-round technical stoppage over Jesus Soto Karass. Prior to that, Thurman registered a 10th-round knockout of previously unbeaten Diego Chaves in July 2013, flooring the Argentine once each in the ninth and final rounds. Thurman ended Chaves’ streak of five consecutive stoppage wins.
Before Chaves, Thurman routed ex-beltholder Jan Zaveck over 12 rounds in March 2013 to follow up a fourth-round technical knockout of former titleholder Carlos Quintana in November 2012.
“I’ve been pleased with my progression, for the most part. A part of me was disappointed for not getting the knockout against Zaveck but I did do what I wanted to do in the Zaveck fight and I did it for 12 rounds. So with each appearance, you learn something,” said Thurman.
“I’m there to win and we won. I’m coming to win on Dec. 13 and we’re gonna win whether it takes 12 rounds or two rounds. This is a beautiful sport and I look forward to the whole show. I’m prepared for the whole show.”
Next up is Bundu, a resident of Italy who was born in Sierra Leone. Having scored knockouts in four of his past six victories, Bundu will be fighting on American soil for the first time against Thurman. Bundu is also the current European welterweight titlist, holding the belt since June 2011.
Bundu’s split decision victory over Frankie Gavin in August ended a run of three consecutive stoppage wins and represented Bundu’s third triumph over a previously undefeated fighter in his past eight appearances.
“I’m looking to once again gain some experience. Like a fine wine, we only get better with time every appearance,” said Thurman, who turns 26 on Nov. 23 – two days days after Bundu’s 40th birthday.
“This is a highly-respected opponent. Hopefully, I’ll be able to expose his age and get him with some nice shots like I normally do. I want to sit down on them and deliver in the traditional ‘One Time’ fashion.”
Thurman is an admirer of legendary boxers such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, Aaron Pryor and Marvin Hagler, adding, “Evander Holyfield and guys like that paved the way for me to do what I do.”
Thurman hopes a succession of high-level performances of which he hopes to deliver against Bundu leads to a showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr., whom he called out in the wake of his triumph over Diaz.
“Most of the feedback I hear from fans is ‘Go get Mayweather,’ or, ‘Knock out Mayweather,’ and then, outside of that, you hear someone say, ‘He’ll never fight you.’ Then, it’s just love. The support is growing. I thank all of my fans. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be entertaining people and for people to appreciate all of your hard work,” said Thurman.
“We definitely do put in the work. The fans make this interesting. The interest and support is growing but I’m still young and I’m looking forward to my career, man. When I bring it 100 percent, I’m dangerous for anybody but we stay humble, man, because anything can happen in that ring. I’m just looking forward to expanding my fan base with another great performance on Dec. 13. “
Note: Advised by Al Haymon, Thurman also addressed a report by ESPN.com that he was offered a three-fight contract worth $6 million by Roc Nation.
“That’s behind me now. I’m not really talking about it. It never went really far. I never really had a major sit-down and I was never really presented with an actual contract. That was a lot of money that they were offering but I didn’t see paperwork,” said Thurman.
“On a personal level, I felt ambushed because they were trying to grab me for December and I was already focused on what I was doing with my career and I’m trying to stay focused. I’m a young brother, man, and I’m patient. I’m just trying to put on another great performance and watch my stock go up. It’s the fight game that we play.”