Friday, December 01, 2023  |



Keith Thurman gets it done but leaves us wanting more

Fighters Network
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Keith Thurman recorded an important victory over Luis Collazo on Saturday in Tampa, Florida, not far from where he grew up. And he overcame adversity to do it, which is required of all great-to-be fighters.

At least three things were missing, though:

  1. Dominance over a 34-year-old who was outclassed by Amir Khan last year.
  2. The ability to hurt Collazo.
  3. A dramatic conclusion.

Add those items up and you get a somewhat unsatisfying performance even if Thurman was ahead on all cards when Collazo quit on his stool after the seventh round because he couldn’t see out of his right eye, the result of a cut.

Thurman and the fight received hype beyond the quality of the matchup because it was the featured event on the first installment of the new “PBC on ESPN” series. It was primarily a showcase for Thurman, who some believe will be a star.

And the hometown boy fought like it in some respects, boxing well and landing enough hard, accurate punches to win rounds as Collazo accomplished little beyond his impressive ability to take punches.

Then came a dramatic fifth round. Collazo landed a perfect left to Thurman’s gut with about 25 seconds remaining, causing Thurman to wince, crouch and go into survival mode until the bell sounded to end the round.

After that, Collazo, infused with confidence and momentum, forced a reticent Thurman to fight moving backward for much of the rest of the fight. Thurman still won rounds, finding openings for lead shots and countering well, but he wasn’t quite as impressive as he had been.

In the next round, one in which Collazo was competitive, an accidental clash of heads evidently opened a cut below Collazo’s right eye. No one knew it at the time but that was the beginning of the end.

Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Collazo fought one more round and then, as he sat on his stool after the seventh, he was asked by the ring doctor whether he wanted the fight stopped. He said, “Yeah, I can’t see.” That was that.

It was ruled that Collazo retired, giving Thurman an eighth-round technical knockout. Thurman (26-0, 22 knockouts) was leading on the cards 69-64, 69-64 and 68-65 after seven rounds.

“I’m the type of fighter, I keep going if I could. I couldn’t, so ÔǪ hey, better safe than sorry,” Collazo (36-7, 19 KOs) said in the ring afterward.

Some people are already questioning Collazo’s decision to quit, citing the countless fighters who have continued with cuts at least as bad the one Collazo suffered. And some undoubtedly are questioning Thurman’s performance.

Again, to be fair, he fairly easily beat an experienced veteran with a great chin who is known for giving top-tier fighters trouble.

Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

We saw what we saw, though. Thurman stood his ground at times but ran more than anyone would’ve expected him to. He was too cautious. He landed some solid shots but never hurt Collazo and threw few combinations, which allowed a huge underdog to become the pursuer.

It was far from a perfect night. A win is a win, though. And Thurman was happy afterward.

“He came and fought hard,” Thurman said of his opponent. “He caught me with a great body shot. I took it, I endured like a great champion does; we didn’t go down. And, you know, we kept going. We kept picking our shots, giving him a little bit of power each and every round and we broke him down.”

And he said he wasn’t surprised by Collazo’s effort.

“He has been a huge underdog his whole career,” Thurman said. “He upset a lot of people and made a lot of world champions look bad. ÔǪ I knew he’d come out and perform like this.”

And so Thurman takes another step forward in his career. What’s next? Of course, he’d love to win boxing’s lottery by landing a lucrative fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

He was asked about that possibility afterward and spoke directly to the No. 1 fighter in the world.

“I’m a young, strong champion, Floyd,” he said into the camera. “Come get it. I’m undefeated like you, baby. Come take my ‘0,’ baby, come take my ‘0.’ I’m ready, I’m ready.”

Those who saw the fight Saturday might not agree with that.