At one point, Keith Thurman was undoubtedly recognized as not only the best welterweight in the world, but one of the best fighters around. But after being forced into the medical room far more than he would like, the now 34-year-old has made sporadic appearances. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
Since reaching the pinnacle of the welterweight mountain following back-to-back victories over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, Thurman reigned supreme as the division’s lone unified champion. However, while his rise was ultimately a dominant one, it was only transient.
After sitting for roughly two years, the Clearwater, Florida, native returned to the ring against Josesito Lopez in 2019, winning a majority decision. Thurman would then suffer the first defeat of his career at the hands of Manny Pacquiao a few months later.
A very familiar pattern would soon occur as Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) would sit out once again, this time for nearly three years. In his return, the former unified champion showed a considerable amount of rust before going on to outpoint Mario Barrios in February of 2022.
Abel Sanchez, a recently retired world-renowned trainer, has followed the career of Thurman closer than most. Just a few short years ago, Sanchez gushed over Thurman and his awe-inspiring skills. Now, considering his vagarious nature and propensity for inactivity, Sanchez reveals that the career of the one-time luminary has been a complete letdown.
“To me, Keith is probably in the last ten years for me the biggest disappointment," said Sanchez to K.O. Artist Sports. "He didn't do the things that he could've done when he first came on the scene.”
In addition to the considerable amount of ring rust that continues to build on Thurman's eroding skills, Spence has proved to not only be one of the sport's biggest stars but also one of its deadlier punchers.
To kick off his 2022 campaign, Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) would go on to truncate the WBA title reign of Yordenis Ugas, stopping his man in front of a jam-packed crowd on April 16th in Dallas, Texas. Subsequently, the normally soft-spoken unified champion turned his attention towards Terence Crawford.
However, despite the pent-up demand for their undisputed clash, talks between the two stalled, forcing Spence to go in another direction. Presently, nothing is set in stone but Spence and Thurman are likely to square at 154 pounds in the coming months.
Ultimately, Sanchez doesn't want his harsh critiques to be misconstrued. By and large, he confesses that he reveres Thurman and everything he brings to the table. But, should the two tango at some point this year, Sanchez is convinced that Spence will have an easier time in the ring in comparison to his championship rival.
“Keith Thurman is a talented fighter. It’s not easy but he (Spence) won’t have to work as hard as he would against Crawford.”
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