Each time Keith Thurman has stepped up in class in recent years, he has looked impressive doing so. And with that has brought the inevitable mention of his name in the same sentence as Floyd Mayweather's.
But Thurman, the unbeaten welterweight titlist, has two somewhat competing points he wants fans and experts alike to know regarding his candidacy as a Mayweather opponent: Not only is he ready for the fight any time, he’s not going to let the success of his career be dictated by whether he gets that chance.
Thurman (25-0, 21 KOs), one of the brightest stars on the rise in the sport, will take on former titlist Luis Collazo on Saturday at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida, in the first Premier Boxing Champions card on ESPN (9 p.m. ET).
"A lot of people say I'm never going to fight Floyd Mayweather and he'll never give me a shot. But I say that Keith 'One Time' Thurman will have a career with or without Mayweather because I'm going to be here at the top of the welterweight division for many years to come."Keith Thurman
Ever since the fight was announced, most began to remove Thurman’s name from the candidacy of potential opponents for Mayweather’s Sept. 12 return because of the two-month turnaround between fights.
Thurman says not so fast.
“Considering my heart and my desire to fight Floyd Mayweather, to me it is possible,” Thurman told ESPN.com. “I do have this fight [Saturday], and anything can happen in this fight. Hopefully everything goes well; we have a terrific knockout performance like we want to have; and we walk out with no injuries.”
Provided he is victorious against Collazo, the 26-year-old Thurman said he would go right back to camp in preparation for Mayweather if given the call, adding that he has no reason to “go eat cake and ice cream” between bouts and put on weight.
But the bigger issue could be whether Mayweather, one fight removed from decisively outpointing Manny Pacquiao in their long-awaited superfight, has any motivation to take on a challenge as difficult as Thurman.
Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs), 38, was reported to have made at least $220 million from the Pacquiao fight and has just one bout left on his six-fight deal with Showtime/CBS. In recent weeks, Mayweather has publicly proposed Andre Berto and the rather unheralded Karim Mayfield as potential fall opponents.
Would the pound-for-pound king have the same incentive to challenge himself against a prime Thurman, who possesses likely the division’s most dangerous knockout punch?
“Some would say the fact that he can fight practically anybody and make the money that he’s making that he should just take another paycheck,” Thurman said. “Boxing is a sport, but it’s also a business. Floyd is an intelligent businessman. Maybe he does want to make the fight brew or let the controversy build up longer and a little bit more.
“We’ll see what happens. A lot of people do not expect Floyd to be here for the next two to three years, so the decisions that he makes now are important, and he should make wise decisions.”
Thurman has taken note of Mayweather’s silence whenever he has been asked about the native of Clearwater, Florida. Because of that, he is realistic about his chances.
“A lot of people say I’m never going to fight Floyd Mayweather and he’ll never give me a shot,” Thurman said. “But I say that Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman will have a career with or without Mayweather because I’m going to be here at the top of the welterweight division for many years to come.”
Thurman has seen the challenges Amir Khan has faced in essentially putting his career on hold for two years in search of a chance to face Mayweather. He believes it’s useless to have confidence he will face any fighter until a contract is signed and in his hand.
So Thurman will instead focus on the matter at hand on Saturday against Collazo knowing that a victory likely propels him into a major fight against one of the glossy names in boxing’s glamour division.
“There are a lot of great welterweights out there right now and a lot of fights that I think would be fan-friendly,” Thurman said. “Whether it’s Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter, Amir Khan or Kell Brook, there are a lot of fights out there that I think would be very interesting for me, my career and the sport of boxing outside of Floyd Mayweather.”