Who should Keith Thurman fight next?
By Hector Franco
Over a week ago in Brooklyn, NY, Keith Thurman successfully defended his WBA welterweight title against Shawn Porter. It was without question the best main event that the PBC and Al Haymon have put together thus far. Perhaps, bringing in Showtime- who has been in the boxing business for over 30 years- to do the production of the telecast helped. When fans imagined boxing being put back on terrestrial television channels such as CBS, NBC, and FOX this was what they thought they were going to get. Fans didn’t need a huge stage reminiscent of WWE’s Monday Night Raw stage as an entrance for the fighters. Nor did fans need Hans Zimmer music; Introductions that made the show look like an episode of American Idol, or the taking away of fighter entourages and ring card girls. All boxing fans wanted were competitive match-ups between the best fighters in their respective division. Thurman-Porter delivered on all ends. The question is now, what is next for Keith Thurman?
There are many options for Thurman on his side of the promotional divide. The name that Thurman himself has brought up the most is, Danny Garcia. Garcia is the current WBC welterweight titleholder. He won the title last January when he won a decision over Robert Guerrero. Since January, Garcia hasn’t stepped back in the ring or even scheduled a fight for the future. There are rumors that he may be facing Andre Berto next as he played color commentator to Berto’s rematch with Victor Ortiz. There is also the possibility, although unlikely, of a match up with future Hall of Famer, Manny Pacquiao. Garcia was mentioned by Bob Arum as a potential opponent for the Filipino should he decide to return to the ring. A bout between Thurman and Garcia would pit Haymon’s two biggest welterweight stars against one another. This would also be an opportunity for both men to unify titles in the division. We know that Thurman wants the bout with Garcia. It’s unclear if Garcia wants any part of Thurman.
Thurman also has the option of waiting for the winner of the Jessie Vargas-Kell Brook fight. The fight between Vargas and Brook is a unification bout and would give Thurman the opportunity to put the WBO and IBF titles on his mantle. The fight with Jessie Vargas and Kell Brook has still yet to be signed. If it isn’t put together it’s possible for Jessie Vargas to meet Timothy Bradley in a rematch. This would then leave Brook open to possibly head straight into a Thurman bout later this year. Now that, Bob Arum has settled his lawsuit with Al Haymon it opens up the possibility of bouts being made that normally wouldn’t be worth talking about. Fights with Brook, Bradley, and Jesse Vargas would be worthy challenges for Thurman. They would bring him one step closer to welterweight supremacy.
The last options for Thurman are the most likely scenarios. At the end of May, David Avanesyan defeated Shane Mosley to earn the interim WBA welterweight title making him the mandatory for Keith Thurman’s regular WBA title. Thurman may have to face Avanesyan to avoid having the title stripped.
If Thurman’s options become limited most fans would welcome a Shawn Porter rematch. Many fans and pundits had Porter winning the bout including most of the fans in attendance at the Barclays Center. A rematch could end up being even bigger if Porter were to win a title in the interim.
After almost a year out of the ring and some inconsistent performances, Thurman now has the momentum going his way in his career. It’s important for him to make the most of this by staying active. Whatever Thurman decides to do next boxing fans will be waiting in anticipation.
(Featured Photo: Marilyn Paulino)