By Rick Reeno
When Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer announced Keith Thurman's finalized opponent for April 26th, a number of boxing fans were critical of Golden Boy's selection.
Thurman (22-0, 20KOs) will defend his WBA interim-welterweight title at the StubHub Center in Carson against veteran, and former champion, Julio Diaz (40-9-1, 29KOs).
Most fans would have liked to him see face one of the more highly ranked welterweights in Golden Boy's stable.
Unfortunately, nearly every player at 140 and 147, including all four welterweight champions, are already scheduled to fight in April or May. All four reigning beltholders - Floyd Mayweather, Timothy Bradley, Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter - are all booked for title defenses in the next few weeks.
Thurman and his team had two choices - sit on the bench and wait for a deal to get made against a more lucrative opponent - or stay busy while everything shakes out in April and May. Thurman and his team decided to stay busy.
Several stay-busy opponents were explored for Thurman, but only Diaz was ready and willing to accept the fight.
"First of all, most of those 147 and 140-pounders are fighting in that April/May timeframe on one card or the other. Everybody is busy, including all of the names that you just mentioned," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com.
"Keith Thurman and his management are doing the right thing instead of waiting for one of those guys. He could have said - 'lets see what happens in April and May and then I'm going to fight one of those guys in July or August.' But that's not the way it should go. Keith Thurman realizes and his management realizes, that staying active means staying in the public's eye. Instead of sitting around and waiting, he's going to go out there to fight as well."
Schaefer indicates that Thurman and his team are following the same strategy being utilized by WBA/IBO middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who stays busy with or without HBO's televised backing. In two of his last four fights, Golovkin traveled to Monaco to face heavy underdogs Nobuhiro Ishida and Osumanu Adama. Golovkin's team is only concerned with keeping their fighter active and keeping his name relevant in conversation.
"We've seen this as well with Gennady Golovkin, who has been fighting not really world-beaters, but he stays active and because he stays active he stays relevant. I think that's very important when you look at these fights. For Thurman to be in the mix, fighting around the same time in the calendar as those other guys, it's definitely the right way to go," Schaefer said.