On top of the boxing world in the sport's glamour division after climbing Danny “Swift” Garcia in March, Keith “One-Time” Thurman took a long sabbatical after elbow surgery by literally scaling the world's peak and the rarified mountainous air of Nepal.
The R-rated Dalai Lama of game, Thurman waxed philosophical in his return to the Barclays Center plains following marriage. But he returns amid a landscape now featuring the fearsome IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., along with rugbyesque WBO champion Jeff Horn.
Appearing a little puffy faced, clad in white urban gear, the pride of St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida hit Brooklyn for a presser prior to “Iron-Man” Jermell Charlo's massacre of Erickson “The Hammered” Lubin and “Swift” Jarrett Hurd's ‘no doubt' smashing of Austin Trout. Of most intrigue, Thurman shared the podium with Spence — presumably to discuss a brewing superfight — and The Truth wasted no time going in on One-Time.
“Since I was 15-0, I've been saying I'd fight Keith Thurman or anyone in the Top 5,' said Spence, set to defend against gritty Lamont Peterson in January.
‘This is the fight I've been wanting for the longest [with Keith Thurman]. He's been making excuses, saying I wasn't ready; I haven't proven myself; I haven't won a world title– to saying now he's gonna burst my bubble. I'm waiting to find out what he's gonna do.”
Not to be outdone, Thurman offered a graphic retort. “There's nothing more satisfying in life– including sex, than a good motherfucking fight. There's a level of adrenaline the body produces that's just… Different,' fired Thurman.
‘I like the threat, I like being in danger. I know he (Spence) is going to train really hard to put me in danger. And I want to rise to the occasion, to show him what ‘The Truth really looks like.”
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As talk of Thurman and Spence being the supreme alpha dogs of 147 and a much anticipated fight of 2018, Terence ‘Bud' Crawford seemed lost on a press corps that would rank him higher than either fighter on the pound-for-pound list.
No less than the wise Freddie Roach referred to Crawford as a “really big welterweight' that is ‘more dangerous to any of them'. Roach said this during a visit to Wild Card Gym just before Manny Pacquiao showed age against Horn.
Showing himself to be a modern hybrid of Pernell Whitaker and Thomas Hearns at 140 in a recent destruction of Julius Indongo, I asked Thurman about a fight with Crawford at 147, a fighter many already consider the world's best.
“He's got a lot of respect for the way he's dominated 140 and for what he's done in his fights. Some people think he's the best fighter in the world, but I think he's proven he's the best super lightweight. That's it. 147 has nothing to do with him yet– this is between me and Errol Spence to decide, because ain't nobody worried about Jeff Horn's ass in Australia. Now if he comes up and takes the WBO belt from Horn, then it's a fight worth negotiating. But he needs to prove he can whack a welterweight.”
—Thurman, on super lightweight boss Terence “Bud” Crawford
Before leaving Barclays I caught up with Thurman again, to get an idea of what's in store for 2018. He had seemed to indicate earlier during the press conference that he was looking for a C level opponent in a tentatively sceduled late February/early March return. Wanting clarity, I asked if he'd take a fight with say, a Brandon Rios, who's next up a comebacking Danny Garcia.
“Mmm, nah not really.. Re-luc-tant-ly,” dropped Thurman, in a very Joker from Suicide Squad kinda way.
Then I thought about all that's happened to him in less than two years: A near fatal car accident where neck and spinal injury was sustained; an epic, prime snatching war with former IBF champion Shawn Porter; an intense duel with former WBC king Garcia that blew out his elbow… Fuck it, call Shane Mosley.
As for a rematch with Garcia or Porter, One-Time ruled out neither, while leaning toward a rematch with Garcia first.
“Whiplash. Then two different doctors… I couldn't even jump rope. I called Al (Haymon) and I was crying on the phone because I knew I couldn't go. That's over now though and I'll come back smart,' declared Thurman.
‘Stylewise for Danny it's a good fight (with Rios). His daddy wants that ‘look good factor' so he can talk shit in my face and talk about my ponytail again. Fine. We got some motherfucking money to make. People act like I want to fight ‘One-Time' a year. If I fight 3 times in 2018 that's 10 million. I plan on dominating 147 for a long time.”