Tuesday, June 06, 2023  |



Keith Thurman wants to face a RING-rated rival in 2015

Fighters Network

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By early next year, RING No. 7-rated Keith Thurman wants to fight another RING-rated welterweight such as No. 5-ranked Marcos Maidana, whom his trainer, Dan Birmingham, called “a gateway to” Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Thurman (23-0, 21 knockouts) has stopped 11 of his past 12 opponents, including the last three straight, and he’s set on delivering another high-level performance on Dec. 13 against Leonard Bundu (31-0-2, 11 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In Birmingham’s eyes, a win could work toward landing that coveted showdown with Mayweather, if not Manny Pacquiao or an opponent of similar ilk.

“Bundu is our next opponent and we’re taking him very seriously but after that, we’d like even more difficult challenges and I think that’s what Maidana, Pacquiao and Mayweather bring,” said Birmingham.

“They can say what they want about Keith, that he’s not ready, that he has no experience, but that’s all B.S. because, you know, we are ready and we can win those fights. So bring it on. Let’s do it.”

A resident of Clearwater, Fla. nicknamed “One Time,” Thurman is coming off a third-round TKO of former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz in April, and will fight Bundu in support a Showtime event headlined by 147-pounders Amir Khan and Devon Alexander.

“I plan on winning as many rounds as possible and on finishing the fight as soon as possible. That’s the strategy that I have all the time. I’ve been working hard. That’s what this next fight is going to be about,” said Thurman, who turned 26 on Sunday.

“It’s about just showing that all of these great contenders that do exist all around the world, they’re just still not a big enough challenge for me. So I believe that by the first part of next year, we should really begin to start fighting some of the top 10 contenders according to RING magazine. Those are the types of fighters that I really feel that I’m ready for and that I truly want to get my hands on.”

Thurman and Birmingham want to seize the moment with all eyes on the welterweight division in the wake of Saturday’s effort by Pacquiao, THE RING’s No. 1-rated welterweight who scored six knockdowns in defense of his WBO belt against Chris Algieri.

“Definitely, Manny would be right at the top of the list, for sure,” said Birmingham. “Maidana is another good name because we feel that he’s a gateway to Mayweather.”

Maidana is coming off consecutive majority and unanimous decision losses to Mayweather, THE RING’s 147-pound champion and holder of the WBA and WBC welterweight titles. Maidana would be receptive to a bout with Thurman, among others, according his manager, Sebastian Contursi.

“I know deep in my heart that Keith wins that fight and I think that not only would Keith win that fight, but that he would look spectacular doing it,” said Birmingham. “And the fact that Mayweather couldn’t dispose of Maidana, when we dispose of him, I think that’s a fair assessment for calling Mayweather out. I just hope that the networks have the same view.”

Like Thurman, Maidana is advised by Al Haymon, as are Khan and Alexander, who are rated Nos. 9 and 10 by THE RING.

“Honestly, at this stage, that’s who we want. We want the top, top guys because I feel that Keith can beat them,” said Birmingham. “I don’t know so much the other guys, Khan and Alexander. I honestly don’t think that Khan can stay with Keith and I don’t think that Alexander can either.”

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.

A resident of Italy who was born in Sierra Leone, Bundu, 40, will be fighting on American soil for the first time against Thurman. Bundu has scored knockouts in four of his past six victories and has held the European welterweight title since June 2011.

A split decision victory over Frankie Gavin in August ended Bundu’s run of three consecutive stoppage wins and represented his third triumph over a previously undefeated fighter in his past eight appearances.

“I don’t underestimate any of my opponents – and that includes Leonard Bundu – but I know that I’m dangerous every single round,” said Thurman. “We’re dangerous early and we’re dangerous later on. The danger really never goes away and I feel highly confident that I should be able to get Leonard out of there on Dec. 13.”


Video by Showtime