Unbeaten Keith "One Time" Thurman has waited patiently for his chance to prove himself against the biggest names in the 147-pound division.
In a showdown with veteran Robert Guerrero on Saturday, the welterweight titlist will not only get that chance, he'll get it in front of a lot more viewers watching at home.
Thurman (24-0, 21 KOs) will meet Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 KOs) in the main event of the first "Premier Boxing Champions" card, kicking off adviser Al Haymon's new series as boxing returns to prime-time network television (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET).
Ahead of his fight, Thurman took time to answer questions from ESPN.com:
What was your reaction to finding out you were headlining the first main event of the new PBC series?
It's just a dream come true. I've been working hard for 19 years and it has always been my dream to be at the top of the world of boxing. And we're here. To be kicking off NBC, I could just see my original trainer Ben Getty and it just reminds me of the words that he once said: "All you need to do is get with the major network and keep knocking them out, boy, and you'll become a household name." And with NBC jumping back into the world of boxing, that dream can become a reality real soon.
A big part of Haymon's plan appears to be putting the focus back on the fighters. How does that change your outlook about your own future?
It means that boxers, as a commodity, are not going to be exploited in the fashion that they were exploited in the past. Al is really making sure that the talented athletes are getting paid for all the hard work and dedication and all the years that they put into the sport. It's just great to see this form of justice.
Was it difficult in 2014 not to have a chance to face the big names as you waited for boxing politics to play itself out?
It wasn't difficult it's just that you have to be patient. Patience is a virtue. There's no real reason to talk about last year because we are in this year. We are getting what we want and we are happy, so there are no complaints.
What type of fight are you expecting against Guerrero?
I'm expecting him to come and throw punches to show that he's not afraid and that he can execute his game plan. We are going to make adjustments and we're just going to show him that I can do what I want to do and that he really shouldn't have signed the contract. That's my plan going in all the time, to show these fighters that what they thought about Keith Thurman by watching Keith Thurman outside of the ring, there's a whole another aspect of being with Keith "One Time" Thurman inside the ring.
What did you take from watching Guerrero's all-action victory over Yoshihiro Kamegai last year?
At the end of the day, he looked great. He took his time off, he was well rested, he was well prepared for the fight. And Kamegai was a straight-forward, slow-handed, slow-footed fighter. It was perfect for Guerrero. He stands there and trades and I hope he brings that same mentality in the ring with me.
What do you want casual sports fan to learn about you from watching this fight?
I'm one of the best fighters that America has to offer. I'm a true American, born and raised. My father is African-American. My mother is Polish and Hungarian. I'm born and raised in Clearwater, Florida, and training out of St. Petersburg, the home of Winky Wright, Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy and now Keith "One Time" Thurman. I always bring up my first trainer Ben Getty. He raised me from age 7 to the age of 20, when he passed away. He told me at the age of 14 that, "You have everything that it takes to be a world champion."
How close do you think you've come to putting forth a complete performance in the ring?
At the end of the day, every fight is a different fight. If you want to see all of me, you have to watch all of my fights. You're not going to get the full Keith "One Time" Thurman just from one fight. It's a strategic game. I hope that people can see that I'm a young master at the craft. I'm always thinking and always moving. I always try to make it exciting, but I'm also trying to win the round at the same time. We look for the knockout, we hurt practically everybody that steps into the ring in front of me. I'm hoping for a great fight [on Saturday] and it should be fan friendly.
How did you react in the moment to the booing you received during and after your last fight when you won a wide decision over Leonard Bundu?
Those were Amir Khan fans. It was coming from a certain section of the arena. I could hear them all night. The rest of the arena was not as loud as that one section. And they were mad at me because, 24 hours prior to the fight, I stated that Amir Khan is the No. 1 most overrated welterweight in the welterweight division. And Amir Khan was the main event. So I'm not mad for the boos and some people may have been booing because I also called out [Floyd] Mayweather, and things of that nature. But look, man, the dude barely touched me for 12 rounds. I don't really think that Amir Khan did anything different [against Devon Alexander]. He boxed and he was sticking and moving and boxing. He just showed hand speed when I showed a knockdown in the first round. It's opinionated, you know? Maybe people were booing because they had money on the knockout and I didn't get the knockout that night. At the end of the day, we boxed a very smart fight. We went 12 rounds with somebody who wasn't able to really touch me. It's a learning experience and I'm a performer. That's my stage and I choose how to perform. I said it on stage and I'll say it again and I'll say it throughout my whole career: You don't go to McDonald's and tell them how to flip your burgers, so you can't tell me what to do in the ring. I'm a world-class fighter and I'm going to show world-class composure through boos, through cheers and everything. It doesn't bother me.
Do you believe Guerrero can take your power for 12 rounds?
I do not. He has fought several welterweights, but in my opinion he hasn't fought one welterweight with exponential power. He didn't even fight a 140-pounder with extreme power. With that being said, I believe I am going to be a true test to his head and to his body for 12 rounds.
What single thing has to go right for you, above all else, in order to have your greatest success against Guerrero?
All we have to do is land our punches like always. Boxing is a hit-and-don't-get-hit sport. Moving, getting my angles, sitting down and really just hurting him like I know that I can. Out of 24 fights, there has only been one person that has never hit the mat. So I don't expect anything different. There are a lot of people who haven't passed the Keith Thurman test and I don't expect Guerrero to be the first.
Will we see your motto of "KOs for life" play out in the ring?
That's what we're going for, baby. We are bringing it back. Like I said, last fight we got a knockdown, but we didn't get a KO. I'm a young man growing in the sport. I chose to go 12 rounds, I had my reasons and we were really boxing great on the outside. This fight, I'll let you know straight up: For six rounds, I'm going to be going at it with him. If he survives those six rounds, then you are going to see the boxer come out. But for six rounds we are going to be right there banging with him, toe to toe, and putting on a great show.