Can Keith Thurman become the undisputed welterweight champion?
By Hector Franco
March 8, 2017
BROOKLYN, NY – This past weekend Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) became the unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion by winning a split decision over the previously undefeated Danny “Swift” Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs). The fight received some mixed reviews from fans and pundits alike as the action took a decline in the second half of the fight. Regardless, Thurman came out as the clear winner and now fans are looking forward to whom Thurman may face next.
Thurman the past two years hasn’t been the most active fighter. In 2016, he fought just once after an eleven-month lay-off. With the win over Garcia coming in the first three months of 2017, if Thurman hasn’t suffered any injuries he could potentially fight three times this year.
The Florida native can take advantage of his recent success by allowing fans to see him ply his craft more than just once or twice a year. He is in the prime of his career at 28 years old, and the fight with Garcia wasn’t brutal enough to keep him out of the ring for long.
There are many options available for Thurman in the welterweight division. The goal for Thurman who has been a welterweight his entire career should be to become the undisputed champion in the division.
Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs)
As far as transition fights are concerned a fight with Lamont Peterson is better than most. Peterson recently made a return to the ring after a long hiatus that saw him stay out of the ring for all of 2016. The Washington DC native faced off against David Avanesyan (22-2-1, 11 KOs) this past February and won a unanimous decision to gain the WBA ‘regular’ welterweight title. The victory essentially made Peterson the number one contender for Thurman’s WBA welterweight title.
Peterson is a slow starter but always provides for fights that have action. He is one of the most underrated body punchers and inside fighters in the sport. Thurman-Peterson wouldn’t light the world on fire, but it would certainly be acceptable and a tough test for the newly crowned unified welterweight champion.
Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) – Errol Spence (21-0, 18 KOs) winner
This upcoming May, Kell Brook will be making his return to the welterweight division after a brief stint at middleweight to defend his IBF welterweight championship against Errol Spence. For Thurman, a fight with either man could do big business. A Spence fight could be another big fight for Thurman at what has become the pseudo-home for the PBC (Premier Boxing Champions) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
A fight with Kell Brook could also be placed at the Barclays Center but would do even bigger business in the booming UK market where boxing is still a major sport. Thurman-Spence and Thurman-Brook would be considered 50-50 fights that stylistically could provide more action than Thurman’s fight with Garcia. Brook sounds more eager than most to step in the ring with Thurman according to what he told ESPN.
Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs)
The fight that is least likely to happen is with WBO welterweight champion, Manny Pacquiao. The future Hall of Famer is currently without a set opponent for his next fight but looks to be set on fighting internationally this year. Reported fights with Australia’s Jeff Horn (16-0, 11 KOs) and the UK’s Amir Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) have yet to be made official and seem less likely to happen each passing day.
Last year Adrien Broner turned down a fight with Pacquiao for a reported amount of four million dollars. Thurman may want to get paid more than four million to face Pacquiao as well, but the opportunity to have a legend on your resume could mean more for Thurman’s legacy than a paycheck.
Even at 38 years old Pacquiao would still be the favorite over Thurman. In his last two performances against Jessie Vargas and Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao showed that while he may not be the terror he was in 2009-2010, he is still better than most fighters. His foot speed is still elite, and Thurman who tends to wing his shots may be careful against a fighter who can throw straight punches down the middle.
Thurman definitely has the ability and mentality to become the undisputed welterweight champion. What may stop this from happening are the actual fights getting made. The hope is that one more unification fight can be made, but according to Thurman it’s unclear of when these fights will take place.
(Feature Photo: Ed Diller/Dibella Entertainment)