I was talking to a boxing manager the other day and he was telling me he doesn't care for the attitudes of many of the boxers today. When he hears a kid he is contemplating signing say, "Skills pay the bills," he said, he's inclined to put away the pen and paper. No, signing cuties who prize not getting hit more than inflicting punishment isn't on his to do list. That manager doesn't manage Keith Thurman, but Thurman, a welterweight who fights March 9 at Barclays Center, is the sort of throwback attacker he'd like to have in his stable.
The 19-0 (1 NC, head clash) Florida resident, who has 18 knockouts to his credit, spoke to NYFightblog about his March 9 bout in Brooklyn against ex-champ Jan Zaveck (32-2 with 18 KOs, ex-IBF welter champ; from Slovenia), his rise to this place and why he calls out the top names in the game.
"I'm psyched to fight in NYC on March 9 at the Nets Center [aka Barclays Center]," Thurman told me. "New York is one of those legendary boxing capitals I've yet to enter, and it feels really great to hit New York up." Thurman-Zaveck is support to a Bernard Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud mainer, on a card promoted by Golden Boy which will run on HBO (9:30 PM ET start).
Thurman opened eyeballs when he took out Brandon Hoskins on the May 5, 2012, on the Mayweather-Cotto PPV undercard, more yet when he stopped Orlando Lora on the July 21, 2012 Broner-Escobedo undercard on HBO, and exponentially more when he stopped (TKO4) slick vet Carlos Quintana on Nov. 24, 2012, underneath the Guerrero-Berto scrap, again on HBO. Zaveck is probably a step up from Quintana, and Thurman isn't assuming he's going to blast him out with ease.
"Zaveck I know is a very tough and durable fighter, he's been in with world champs, he's an ex-world champion, he's 36 and knows if he wants to be champ again the time is now," Thurman said. Good assessment from the fighter, who grew up in a single parent household, with his mother holding the fort after dad left.
He got into boxing at age 7, and found a mentor in trainer Benjamin Getty, who was with Thurman until he died in May 2009. Thurman won silver at the 2008 Olympic trials, to Demetrius Andrade, and turned down a slot as an Olympic alternate. He turned pro in November 2007.
Thurman isn't shy about trying to separate his foes' heads from their shoulders, or calling out those presently higher than him on the ladder. "I called out big fighters in my HBO debut, I called out Malignaggi, Bradley, Floyd Mayweather, I created buzz," he said. "People maybe said why is he calling people out, he hasn't done anything. I don't claim to have done anything but to I want to show you what I'm about to do. It's about letting the world know the future of boxing is Keith "One Time" Thurman."
And that nickname, "One Time," where does that come from?
Thurman said his dad back in the day would throw hands with buddies, and he'd often put someone down with a single body shot: "I am Keith Thurman Junior, I might as well take his nickname. I didn't announce that nickname till I had eight first-round KOs, I didn't want to brand myself right off the bat, I wanted to show what I can do."
My takeaway: His inclination to finish fights, paired with a smart mix of chutzpah and humility has placed Thurman on my must-watch list.