Keith Thurman is hoping his prizefighting fortunes change, if not now, then at least next year. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
The former unified welterweight champion from Clearwater, Florida, has been plagued by inactivity for the past several years, with his last fight coming in February of last year, when he outpointed Mario Barrios by unanimous decision. Thurman, 34, has not fought at all this year, but he is still optimistic that there is a chance that he could glove up before the end of December.
Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) said he hopes to be more active next year, getting at least two fights. He also expressed interest in an exhibition fight of some kind, although he was mum on details.
“We just gotta wait for this announcement,” Thurman told FightHubTV when asked about his next fight. “They’ve been playing with my emotions all year, kid. They’ve been playing with my emotions all year, kid.”
“At this point, it’s just going to be about staying busy for the next few years, getting a bit more activity,” Thurman added. “I would love to fight once this year since I’ve been on the bench all year. But when it comes to next year, I gotta stay moving. If I can do two fights and an exhibition, two fights and a UFC fight, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I need to stay busy.”
Thurman, curiously enough, has been connected to a fight involving Claressa Shields, widely regarded as the top female boxer in the world today—but Thurman has maintained he would only fight Shields for charity. Shields challenged Thurman to a fight earlier this year, saying she believes she would be able to beat him.
Thurman appears to appreciate the novelty aspect of fighting someone of the opposite sex.
“That’s my only interest, man, is not just doing big things in boxing,” Thurman said of his interest in exhibitions. “Sometimes it’s fun to do different things in boxing. Sometimes it’s fun to do different things in sports. Sometimes it’s fun to do different things compared to what we’ve seen in the whole world. And a battle of the sexes, when it comes to boxing, would be different.”
Thurman, who is backed by Al Haymon of Premier Boxing Champions, has only fought three times since March 2017, when he defeated Danny Garcia at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, to unify the WBA and WBC 147-pound titles.
To Thurman’s credit, he was expected to fight Errol Spence Jr. earlier this year in a 154-pound bout after Spence’s initial talks with Terence Crawford collapsed. But Spence decided to restart negotiations with Crawford. In the end, the two were able to cut a deal. Crawford dominated Spence in their eventual undisputed welterweight title fight in July en route to a ninth-round stoppage at T-Mobile Arena In Las Vegas.
After the fallout from the Spence fight, Thurman was then reportedly in line to face former welterweight titlist Yordenis Ugas. But it was announced last month that the Cuban contender would be fighting Barrios on the undercard of the Caneo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo undisputed 168-pound championship on Sept. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.