We’re 22 days into the new year we’ve already seen new champions crowned, unexpected upsets and the emergence of new boxing contenders. However, most fight fans are waiting with bated breadth for the return of one of the best boxers in the world Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs). Keith Thurman has been inactive since March 2017, when he defeated against former champion Danny Garcia.
Now for those who don’t know, here’s why Keith Thurman has been absent for quite a while. After his fight with Danny Garcia he had elbow surgery which kept him out for the remainder on 2017. The following year in 2018 it seemed as if everything was looking positive for a return (we even had a time range August 2018 for when he would be back) but plans got ruined yet again. Keith Thurman suffered a hand injury in training camp this time around.
While Keith Thurman was absent and trying to recover from all of his injuries, fans and boxers seemed to be getting inpatient with his absence. He was the WBA and WBC Champion and many felt as if he was holding both belts hostage. There were a myriad of potential title fights that could have been made if he were more active, but sitting on the sidelines meant missed opportunities. So what did Thurman do? He decided to vacate his WBC title (he still holds the WBA title). With Keith Thurman deciding to vacate the WBC belt he was promised that he would be the mandatory challenger for whoever won the belt next.
That set up a huge fight that fans had been demanding for a while – Danny “Swift” Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs) vs. Shawn “Showtime” Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs), in a tough, exciting back-and-forth battle which Porter was declared the winner by Unanimous Decision. In late 2018, Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Championships (PBC) made multiple fights announcements for cards that had been set for the end of 2018 and early 2019. One of the fight cards announced included the return of Keith Thurman.
On Saturday, January 26, 2019 Keith Thurman will face Josesito “The Riverside Rocky” Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs). Anything can happen in boxing. Although Keith Thurman is the heavy favorite we can’t say he’ll win. But, just as most people expect, I expect Keith Thurman to put on a solid performance, perhaps with a little ring-rust, and ultimately get the victory.
“I won’t be fighting Errol Spence or Terence Crawford in 2019”
What’s next if Thurman beats Lopez?
Most fans have been asking for years to see Keith Thurman fight Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs). Also with Terence Crawford on the rise now at in the welterweight division, his name has been thrown in the mix as a potential opponent as well. This is a “rebound” year for Thurman as he’s calling it. He’s already stated, “I won’t be fighting Errol Spence or Terence Crawford in 2019” so that eliminates two of the most talked about showdowns this year.
Therefore, who we see Thurman fighting in 2019 depends on the type of performance Thurman has against Lopez. If he wins but doesn’t feel 100%, he could take another respectable tune-up fight to get his rhythm and comfort in the ring level back. There’s a good chance that Keith Thurman will fight three times this year with the first two fights being tune-ups and the third being a step up in competition.
If Thurman gets past his tune-ups successfully as we expect, there are a lot of options even if he decides not to fight Crawford or Spence. He’s still the mandatory challenger for the WBC title, which is currently being held by Shawn Porter. So, we could see Thurman vs. Porter part two unless Porter losses his next fight against Yordenis Ugas. If that is the case, then we could get a possible Ugas vs. Thurman match-up, or he could also face Manny Pacquaio. Pacquiao is now the WBA “Regular” Champion, meaning he has earned a shot to fight Thurman. Thurman is clearly interested in fighting Pacquiao as he previously stated in interviews that he would like a shot before Pacquiao retires.
So, just like fight fans, we have many questions involving Keith Thurman. These are just a few potential match-ups that we could see happen this year. Hopefully, if Thurman is ready, he’ll reconsider fighting Spence or Crawford this year, but as of now we’ll have to wait and see.