Errol Spence is fighting Lamont Peterson this Saturday, in the first big event on the calendar in 2018.
Keith Thurman, the other young undefeated champion at 147 (no disrespect to Jeff Horn, but all he can hope for is swift demise at the hands of Terence Crawford) that people want to see get back in the ring, currently has no opponent set for 2018.
Jessie Vargas, who has recently begun working with Al Haymon, has been talked about as a potential opponent, but nothing concrete has yet materialized. Thurman is quickly moving from One Time to One Time a Year.
It must be said that Thurman is recovering from elbow surgery, but even with that he has been a paragon of inactivity. Since winning the WBA 147-pound title in 2013, Thurman has fought just seven times in five years. Since unifying the WBA and WBC straps in 2017 against Danny Garcia, he hasn’t fought at all.
Errol Spence, once an extremely active fighter, fought just once in 2017, when he stopped Kell Brook to win the IBF version of the title. Both men are PBC fighters, which is where the trouble begins.
Despite having the two biggest names at 147, the PBC has managed to give fans Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman vs Danny Garcia as big fights. Boxing is about making money, and Al Haymon knows this better than perhaps anyone. His long-term, wait-it-out style with the PBC champions in his stable could best be described as frustrating.
A unification fight between Spence and Thurman, aside from being a great fight to make, would be a money-making opportunity at 147 that generally requires the involvement of Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. However, it seems like this fight is going to happen so far down the line that it may not ever matter.
Keith Thurman has been steadily walking back the idea of fighting Spence for a year now, recently telling Fight Hub that he has no eye on fighting him right now. “Honestly, people can say what they want to say. I’m not going to fight [Spence] right now. I wouldn’t fight him right now. I’m not gonna fight Shawn Porter, I wouldn’t rematch Danny Garcia, I wouldn’t fight any of those guys right now. There’s no point. If I do have a mandatory around the corner, it just pushes things back.”
Thurman has said that he would fight all three men, but only after his health is back to 100 percent. Fair enough, I don’t want anyone to get hurt unnecessarily, but this has nothing to do with injuries.
It’s a classic promotional tactic in boxing: let the fight marinate for years in some cases, until HBO or Showtime can charge $80 per household to watch something that should have happened years earlier. Golden Boy did it with GGG and Canelo, Mayweather did it with himself and Pacquiao, and now the PBC is trying to do it with Thurman and Spence.
Contrary to belief of promoters and network executives, you cannot grow the sport by withholding the stars from fans. This is how hardcore fans become disillusioned and regular fans become estranged from the best the sport has to offer.
Don’t get your hopes up for this fight happening before 2020. Thurman is adamant that Shawn Porter (who he struggled mightily with don’t forget) will be mandated for him, and he has also said that a Danny Garcia rematch is on his radar. Add those names to Jessie Vargas, and there are three fights standing between a potential date with Spence. Given the way Thurman has taken his time in making fights, that could easily be three years away.