By Keith Idec
Keith Thurman would’ve preferred facing someone more threatening than Julio Diaz on Saturday night.
It’s not that the undefeated fighter from Clearwater, Fla., has overlooked Diaz (40-9-1, 29 KOs). Thurman recognizes that the 34-year-old Diaz, of Coachella, Calif., was very competitive in a close 12-round loss to England’s Amir Khan (28-3, 19 KOs) and a 10-round draw with emerging star Shawn Porter (24-0-1, 15 KOs), of Akron, Ohio, in two of his three fights since December 2012.
Thurman, a 20-1 favorite over Diaz, just wishes a higher-profile foe would’ve either been available or willing to fight him as he attempts to prove his worth as a potential opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“I am a feared man,” Thurman said. “I’m undefeated, 20 knockouts in 22 fights. Nobody wants to fight me.”
The 25-year-old Thurman, who has knocked out 91 percent of his pro opponents, has been especially impressive in his past two fights. Thurman knocked out previously unbeaten Argentine power-puncher Diego Chaves (23-1, 19 KOs) in the 10th round July 27 in San Antonio. He returned to San Antonio on Dec. 14, when he stopped Mexico’s Jesus Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KOs, 1 NC) in the ninth round to defend the interim WBA welterweight title he won against Chaves.
“I am the truth when it comes to the welterweight division,” Thurman said. “You see other fighters say, ‘Hey, I’ll fight this guy. I’ll fight that guy,’ gunning after the Mayweather sweepstakes. He’s Willy Wonka and everybody wants a gold ticket. … I might have something to prove, but not one’s giving me a chance to prove it. I’m going to keep knocking on the door. If they don’t want to answer, pretty soon I’ll just break it.”
The Thurman-Diaz fight will headline a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader from Stub Hub Center in Carson, Calif. (9:30 p.m. ET). The show will open with a 12-round bout between WBC lightweight champ Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, and Jerry Belmontes (19-3, 5 KOs), of Corpus Christi, Texas. The second televised fight, another scheduled 12-rounder, will pit Argentine knockout artist Lucas Matthysse (34-3, 32 KOs, 1 NC) against John Molina (27-3, 22 KOs), of Covina, Calif., in a junior welterweight bout.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.