Heading into his July 20th title defense against Manny Pacquiao, WBA “super” welterweight champion, Keith Thurman, broke down each of his world title victories to PBC.
First looking at his tenth round KO of Diego Chaves in July 2013, Thurman says he focused on breaking Chaves down “round-by-round.”
“The Diego Chaves fight was the biggest fight of my career, elevating me to the WBA interim champion,” said Thurman.
“I broke him down round by round and landed a beautiful body shot in the ninth round and after that it was a matter of time. That was a fight that earned me worldwide respect and was the start of everything for me.”
Jumping ahead five months later against Jesus Soto Karass at the Alamodome, Thurman admits he had some trouble before getting the win in the ninth round.
“Soto Karass was coming off a victory over Andre Berto which made it an important measuring stick fight for me,” said Thurman,
“He did open the fight by tagging me in the first round, but I dropped him in the fifth and again in the ninth and was able to finish him off for my first title defense.”
Thurman would be more vicious in his next fight in April 2014, fighting at the then StubHub Center in Carson, California, stopping Julio Diaz in the third round, sending the former champion to retirement.
“That was a tremendous fight for me as the headliner in my first main event,” said Thurman.
“Diaz was coming off of good showings against Shawn Porter, fighting Porter to a draw once, and Amir Khan, whom he dropped in their fight. I also had the opportunity to make a statement. I did that by stopping him in only three rounds.”
In his first of two straight appearances at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Thurman would go the distance for the first time as a defending champion, taking on Leonard Bundu in December 2014.
“Bundu was a switch-hitting awkward fighter. I switched [to southpaw] on him in the first round and dropped him with a right hand,” said Thurman. “I out boxed him and really gave the world a taste of how good of a boxer I am. It was an easy blowout.”
In his first fight as undisputed WBA champion, Thurman would return to the MGM to face off against former Floyd Mayweather opponent, Robert Guerrero on March 7th, 2015 for the first ever PBC card on NBC.
“Guerrero had fought Floyd Mayweather and I was happy to have a common opponent with Floyd, so that I could prove to the world that I deserved a shot at Mayweather,” said Thurman.
“I had to overcome that adversity of having that hematoma by knocking him down in the ninth round. That fight really raised my stock to another level.”
Thurman would then make the first defense in his home state of Florida, facing off against Luis Collazo on July 11th, 2015. Thurman would nearly fall due to a liver shot in the fifth round, but would persevere against the hard hitting Collazo, who would retire after the seventh round.
“I was able to survive that body shot to perform in the next round. The fight was taking its toll on him though. I was becoming more comfortable and accurate as I physically broke him down,” said Thurman.
“The arena was electric, and the love was amazing. It was a great homecoming to defend my world title near where I grew up in Clearwater, Florida.”
Next would be his Barclays Center debut, the home of his next three fights, taking on now WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter on June 25th, 2016.
Both men went to war in a fight that ended up going Thurman’s way by unanimous decision, with Thurman nearly ending the fight twice in the 10th and 11th rounds.
“Our fight was tough, back and forth, but by no means was Shawn Porter going to take my title,” said Thurman.
“I pushed myself over the final rounds to make sure I’d be victorious in what was one of the ‘Fight of The Year’ contenders that year. That fight proved to everyone that I can win any type of fight, against any type of fighter.”
Next would be the last fight Garcia would have in 20 months, taking a split decision victory over Danny Garcia in a welterweight unification fight.
“This was two undefeated welterweights going toe-to-toe in the prime of their careers. Danny Garcia’s a sharp puncher who won the WBC’s vacant title that Floyd Mayweather gave up for retirement,” said Thurman.
“But after beating Shawn Porter, I knew Danny would be an easy fight. This was my first chance to beat an undefeated world champion, and I came out swinging on him in round one to make a statement that his world title was about to be mine.”
After two major surgeries and one aborted comeback, Thurman would finally return in January of this year, taking on Josesito Lopez at Barclays Center, in what would be a rebuilding fight for Thurman.
“I was really nervous about making weight after walking around at 182 for the past two years,” said Thurman.
“But even though I got hit and hurt in the seventh round, I knew my boxing ability would get me through. It was a relief to make it through that fight feeling strong and healthy and I’ve taken those feelings right into this training camp.”
Now, Thurman will return to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 20th to face off against Manny Pacquiao, and while Thurman is a decade younger than Pacquiao, he
Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs), July 20, 2019, the MGM Grand Garden Arena: The 40-year-old Pacquiao has earned back-to-back victories over former champions by seventh-round TKO over Lucas Matthysse (July 2018) and unanimous decision Adrien Broner (January).
“Does Manny belong in the ring with a fighter in his prime? Is Keith Thurman still Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman after some vulnerability against Josesito Lopez?” said Thurman, rhetorically speaking. “Of course, I’d like to get the knockout or TKO, but either way, you’re going to see a world class performance that has me standing alone on top of a division that has so many great fighters. I’m trying to be that great, devastating champion once again, and come July 20, I will prove that I am.”