The Reality of Keith Thurman
Well it finally came and went, and we had Keith “Once” Thurman back in the win column against Mario Barrios last weekend. The former unified champion is back in the title hunt after a 30-month layoff.
I know a lot of fans were disappointed that he didn’t get the stoppage win here, especially those with those bet slips. Thurman himself also hinted as much after the fight, but if it’s a defense, it’s not for lack of effort here. Just the reality that it never was is in Thurman’s game. When he tried to close the show, Barrios had a body shot waiting for him, and the rest of fight night continued as the fight began. Thurman boxed and used his footwork and distance to ensure any chance Barrios had on the night was gone.
Barrios’ face after the fight went viral as his nose was broken early in the fight and by the end he looked like Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants.
—Nayk Tyson (@boxing_bird81) February 6, 2022
“It was a comeback fight after two and a half years away,” Thurman said after the fight. “I would like to have my best performance, but I did my best under the circumstances. I grade this performance a C+ or B- for myself.”
Honesty is the best policy, and Thurman’s assessment is certainly that. That’s what I felt was the biggest lesson of this Thurman fight. He looked faster and neater here, even though Barrios only had one path to him, and it didn’t work at all. Once Thurman realized early on that his footwork would get him past Barrios, it was pretty one-sided. Wherever it is in the ring or in any other sport, you know the cliche. Speed kills.
I’ll give “One Time” the B- because I’ll always rank above other Tampa Bay area natives. This card was on pay-per-view like countless others will be this year, and let’s be real here, Keith is passing the ring rust test here, but what’s next?
Thurman has mentioned he wants a title shot, but from whom? Errol Spence is busy with Yordenis Ugas in April, and Terence Crawford is awaiting a court date with his lawsuit against Top Rank. Will the Spence/Ugas winner face Thurman next? Unlikely, and if Spence wins, I don’t think he has amnesia remembering when he wore the same shoes Thurman wears now.
Those who weren’t fighting when he was the unified champion at the time or anytime in the last decade. My mom always warned me that the shoe was on the other foot, and it definitely is now.
So what’s the realistic next step for Thurman? Time will tell, but this version of Thurman we saw last Saturday night will be the B-side both in the marquee and in sportsbooks against any true welterweight in the division. Barrios is now fighting at his natural weight, which will help him down the line, but he didn’t have much for Thurman on Saturday night.
I can’t wait to see it anyway, though. Thurman talked about that fight and still talks about it now, so I expect to see him again sooner than two years here in the ring. That’s why in a perfect boxing world, Thurman’s next fight would have to be against Jaron “Boots” Ennis. What will likely happen is Spence/Ugas winner instead.
Thurman mentioned being active after that fight, which is good but at what cost? It was a pay-per-view, and for some strange reason, I still don’t have the official attendance figures of who attended the last fight in Mandalay Bay. Maybe I’ll get them with the final pay-per-view purchase rates for this card, but the eye test can tell you that it wasn’t a big event. (Or be tucked away, sealed, and never heard of again like the Nevada State Athletic Commission scholarship amounts. Amazing how this sport continues to find ways to keep those numbers out of the public eye.) If they weren’t from shit, maybe we would’ve heard of it. But since they are, we were left to interpretations and what we see (or don’t see) at the scene.
With that event over and done with, it now makes boxing the third pay-per-view this year that didn’t need to happen. Boxing is determined to stick to this pattern, so it will only continue to increase more, like three-pointers in an NBA game. If boxing’s business model puts things on free TV that shouldn’t be shown and anything substantial behind a paywall, expect more than Keith Idec to complain about in 2022, to rightly.
So until the next fight card they ask the public to pay for, Thurman looked good, but not good enough to justify the price tag to find out.
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