When it comes to being a cerebral boxer, calculating information in real-time and making adjustments on the fly, Keith “One Time” Thurman might as well be called “All The Time.”
It’s what he does with power and precision. Like in his June 2016 bout with Shawn Porter, when he abandoned his strategy during the fight and slugged it out with the welterweight to power his way to a unanimous decision. That ability was also on display during his clash with Danny Garcia in March 2017, when he used his power to hurt Garcia early, before weathering rough patches to put on a boxing clinic the rest of the way through toward a split-decision win.
Now, after a 22-month absence due to injuries (elbow surgery and a hand injury), the undefeated Thurman is back at Barclays Center in Brooklyn — where he posted his victories over Porter and Garcia — to put his WBA welterweight title on the line against battle-tested journeyman Josesito Lopez on Saturday night.
Just last month, Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) told Sporting News that 2019 is his “get-back” year, adding that he’d like to save super fights with fellow welterweight champions Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford for 2020.
That means a win over Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) could be followed by a rematch with Porter later this year unless “Showtime” loses the WBC strap to Yordenis Ugas on March 9 in Las Vegas. After all, Thurman vacating the WBC title paved the way for Porter and Garcia to fight for it in September, with the aggressive Porter scoring the unanimous decision and claiming the championship.
Playing off Thurman’s “One Time” nickname and sharp wit, Sporting News thought it would be fun to go 12 rounds with the returning WBA champ, hitting him with questions about his career and life and hot-button topics in boxing, while challenging him to answer them “One Time” in a sentence or less.
Here, Thurman talks about the challenge that Lopez presents, further explains saving a mega bout with Spence or Crawford, why getting his WBC title back is more important than facing the winner of Spence and Garcia for now and how married life has changed him.
Round 1: The challenge that Josesito Lopez presents
He’s a game fighter and he’s coming to win, so I’m gonna have to respect that.
Round 2: 2019 being the get-back year for Keith Thurman
Two years off, I get one year to get back — it’s that simple.
Round 3: Imagine promoting a fight with Adrien Broner
To promote a fight with Adrien Broner would obviously be an exciting trash-talking event and one that I believe would enjoy.
Round 4: Promoting a fight with Manny Pacquiao
Promoting a fight with Manny Pacquiao would be an honor and privilege to share the spotlight with a legend who lord knows doesn’t have much longer in the sport, but will always be remembered and admired by myself and many others.
Round 5: Level of interest in facing winner of the Errol Spence Jr.-Mikey Garcia fight March 16
The winner of that fight is always on my radar, but first and foremost, I care more about getting my WBC title back, so that when Keith Thurman fights Errol Spence or Mikey Garcia — whoever is the IBF champion — we don’t fight for one belt, we don’t fight for two belts, we’re fighting for three belts, baby.
Round 6: Thoughts on Terence Crawford seemingly seeing your statement about fighting Amir Khan to fruition
I think I’m a pretty good matchmaker, but it’s a good fight that I stated out of respect that Terence Crawford should up the bar a little bit if he wants to get respect at 147 and I respect that he’s upping the bar little by little and he’s not really calling out everybody; the kid has done a lot of great things in his career, he’s got a great contract with ESPN who’s putting up good money to make this fight happen … there’s nothing to complain about.
Round 7: When Sporting News spoke with you in late December, you said you want to save fights with Spence and Crawford for 2020. Do you stand by that plan?
Definitely because I pride myself on being honest in the sport of boxing because you guys come to us for information, so I do my best to give you real information and 2020 is an Olympic year — Errol Spence was an Olympic alternative, I think Terence Crawford was an Olympic alternative and I just think it’s a great year to make a really big fight happen at 147 and like I said, unifying more titles.
Round 8: How to thaw frigid relationship between Premier Boxing Champions — home to yourself and Spence — and Top Rank — home to Crawford
One simple word: Negotiations.
Round 9: Thoughts on Danny Jacobs facing Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a middleweight title unification fight May 4
Beautiful, beautiful — I love Danny Jacobs, I’ve admired him since we’ve been in the amateurs; he was a fighter that many of us looked up to in the amateurs, I’ve always followed his professional career, he’s an outstanding boxer and individual and I just feel like more power to him and I wish him the best of luck in the fight.
Round 10: How has married life changed “One Time?”
It has given me something to smile about whenever I’m not in the ring; I’m happy to be married, I found a lovely woman and she supports me … it has been a hard time spending this time apart in preparation for this fight and trying to get better from my injuries, but right after this fight, I will be traveling overseas to have quality time with my wife once again and hopefully some time in February or March, she’ll be cleared to come to America and we won’t have to keep this long-distance thing going.
Round 11: Current miles on your Prius
I gave my Prius to my sister and bought myself another Prius [laughing].
Round 12: Best part about fighting in New York City
The best part about fighting in New York is the New York fight fans, man — Vegas does not compare to the New York fight fans.
Bonus: When it’s all said and done, what do you want the fighting legacy of Keith Thurman to be?
I would love to be the undisputed welterweight champion of the world — that’s always been the big dream — but outside of that, it really just makes me happy whenever somebody approaches me and they say, ‘You are truly one of my favorite fighters in the sport of boxing today.’