By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Errol Spence Jr. respects that Keith Thurman must complete his rehabilitation from elbow surgery before considering fighting him.
Spence even understands Thurman wanting a tune-up bout before embracing their dangerous welterweight championship unification fight. Beyond that, though, Spence doesn’t think there’s any reason they can’t fight after Spence faces Lamont Peterson in January and Thurman meets an undetermined opponent either late in February or sometime in March.
“My thoughts been what it’s been,” Spence said during a press conference Saturday at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. “Since I was 15-0, I said I would fight Keith Thurman or anybody in the top five. Like he said, he’s gotta wait until he get ready and gotta go through rehab. But I’m ready when he is. I’m always ready. So it don’t matter if it’s the first quarter or it’s second quarter [of 2018] or if it’s [the] next year, you know, I’m gonna be ready.”
Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC), the WBA/WBC 147-pound champion, indicated later in the press conference that they’ll determine welterweight supremacy “within one to two years.” Spence (22-0, 19 KOs), the IBF welterweight champ, certainly sounded ready to fight Thurman sooner than that.
“I’m always ready to fight the best,” Spence said. “I have a goal. I have a dream to be the undisputed welterweight champion of the world and I’m not gonna let anybody stop me from that path. So this is the fight that I’ve been wanting with Keith Thurman for the longest. So he’s been making excuses. Said that I haven’t proven myself, I ain’t win a world title, said he was gonna bust my bubble. So, I mean, I’m waiting to find out what he’s gonna do.”
Thurman made it clear he wants to face Spence as well, just when the time is right.
“I look forward to the fight,” Thurman said. “I look forward to great competition, you know, and Errol is that. He’s great competition. You know, my motto’s stayed the same. I’ve got an 0 and I’m not afraid to let it go. If you can beat me, beat me. Because when I train and when I fight, I give it my best. And even if you start getting at me, it just makes me dig. You know, a lot of people don’t understand what’s it like to live the life of a fighter. But I’m that true warrior.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.