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Keith Thurman: ‘I’m the toughest challenge to date for Robert Guerrero’

15
Jan
Photo by Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos

Photo by Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos

 

NEW YORK – RING No. 7-ranked welterweight Keith Thurman believes relative inactivity “could be a factor” in his favor against RING No. 8-rated Robert Guerrero when they meet on March 7 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

A former two-division titlist, Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 knockouts), 31, was last in action for a hard-fought unanimous decision over Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai in June to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to RING 147-pound champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May 2013.

Meanwhile, Thurman (24-0, 21 KOs), 26, is coming off last month’s shutout unanimous decision over previously undefeated Leonard Bundu, representing his second fight of 2014 and his fifth over the course of the past two years.



Nicknamed “One Time,” Thurman had previously scored his third straight stoppage win in April in the third round over two-time lightweight titleholder Julio Diaz. Thurman had stopped 11 of his past 12 opponents.

“It could be a factor, especially going up against a guy like myself. You know, I’m definitely not your average fighter,” said Thurman, who was limited during 2014 due to a left shoulder injury suffered in his victory over Diaz.

“Everything that I do in the ring is above average, from the movement to the defense to the power, even the speed. I wouldn’t say that I’m the fastest guy out there but I would definitely say that I’m above average. So, [Guerrero] definitely needs to bring his A-game. He needs to come well-prepared for battle on March 7.”

Thurman-Guerrero was announced during a Wednesday press conference at the NBC studios as part of NBC’s new boxing series titled, “Premier Boxing Champions” (“PBC on NBC”) in accordance with a multi-year deal between the network and adviser Al Haymon. The inaugural PBC event will air at 9:00 p.m. ET on March 7 and will also feature RING No. 6-rated junior welterweight Adrien Broner opposite John Molina.

A second show on April 11 will feature IBF junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson opposite RING champion Danny Garcia in a 143-pound bout potentially at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

During the announcement, Thurman, Guerrero and the other fighters stood on a stage alongside legendary Hall-of-Famers, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran.

Thurman does not believe Guerrero has faced his combination of youth, power and athleticism in the ring, even though Guerrero has fought Mayweather, 37.

“Floyd doesn’t have the power that I do. Now Floyd doesn’t have the youth but you can’t tell with the way that he moves around the ring on his legs. So for the most part, I do believe that I’m the toughest challenger to date for Robert Guerrero,” said Thurman, a resident of Clearwater, Fla.

“Floyd was maybe the toughest so far but Guerrero could go into that fight with the confidence that he wasn’t going to get knocked out. Here in this fight, he knows in the back of his head and his whole team and everybody in his whole camp has to know that Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman has the ability to put him out at any given second during any given round and at any moment in time.”

Guerrero will be in his fifth 147-pound fight against Thurman after making his division debut with a unanimous decision victory over Selcuk Aydin in July of 2012.

“A lot of people don’t realize that I came up from 135 pounds straight to 147,” said Guerrero. “So it takes time for you to build into that after jumping to weight classes, especially after starting my pro career at 122 pounds. It’s a long road, climbing that ladder.”

Thurman believes he will have an advantage due to his being a welterweight for much longer than Guerrero.

“I’m definitely the bigger fighter,” said Thurman. “Physically and mentally, I’m a full-fledged welterweight and he’s moved up into the welterweight division.”

Although Guerrero had turned down a previous offer to face Thurman, claiming the younger man had not yet established himself as a big name, he said their upcoming clash is “well-deserved” on the part of Thurman.

“At the end of the day, fighters can say whatever and, truth to be told, every fighter is an entrepreneur. We’re all businessmen and the sport of boxing is a sport and a business as well, so I’m not mad at the way that Guerrero wanted to conduct his business. They can’t force your hand to sign on the dotted line,” said Thurman of Guerrero, a southpaw who had won 15 straight fights, nine by knockout before losing to Mayweather.

“But he obviously waited long enough and due to my activity and postponing the matchmaking of this fight, we’re now at the opportunity where he’s satisfied with what they’re offering him. I was always satisfied on my end, so at any time in my career, I was prepared to fight Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero. But like I said, on March 7, it is going down. He’s satisfied; I’m satisfied. So we’re hear now and I’m looking forward to a great night of boxing on NBC on March 7 at the MGM Grand.”

 

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