By Jake Donovan
Regardless of the negative feedback in the media heading into Saturday’s show on HBO, unbeaten welterweight Keith Thurman had every intention of making the most of his network debut.
The former amateur standout accomplished just that, providing an entertaining performance en route to a sixth round stoppage of Orlando Lora in the televised co-feature live from Cincinnati. Thurman offered a little bit of everything, boxing and trading equally well and working the body before taking the attack upstairs and forcing his opponent to wilt.
Despite the explosive intro into the public spotlight, Thurman felt the need to make a statement beyond his fists. During his post-fight interview, the 23-year old shot for the moon, calling out titlists Paul Malignaggi and Tim Bradley as well as pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Many scoffed at the notion and believed that there is more work to be done for Thurman before stepping up to the upper echelon of the division. As for the aforementioned trio, Malignaggi was the only one to respond and not with anything favorable to say.
“I heard this fool call me out! I have one thing to say about that,” Malignaggi stated on his Twitter feed. “Keith Thurman make(s) my name taste like ass when you speak it!!!! Don’t ever call me out when you haven’t paid your dues.”
Thurman (18-0-0-1NC, 17KO) expected a reaction to Saturday’s post-fight comments, but took exception to Malignaggi’s typed words. So much, that he reaffirmed his challenge as well as educating the motor-mouthed Brooklynite on the journey already traveled to lead him to this point.
“They say I haven’t paid my dues, but I did that long ago when I was in the amateurs,” notes Thurman, who turned down a chance to serve as an alternate on the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxing squad to instead turn pro early. “You’re just mad because I’m a young and upcoming fighter. I feel like I can take your title, that’s why I called you out.
“Maidana pulled out once it was time to sign. How long will it take you to pull out? Do you want to wait a little longer and take a tune up fight beforehand? I keep saying that I’m ready to eat right now. Will they let me eat? If not, I’m a young brother starving. If we fight and he shuts me out, he shuts me out. But I’m not going to doubt my skills and my game.”
Malignaggi is currently slated to headline the inaugural boxing card at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, future home to the pro basketball team formerly known as the New Jersey Nets. No opponent has yet been selected, or for the next respective (albeit unscheduled) fights for Bradley or Mayweather for that matter.
The latter two seem like a stretch at this point, but Thurman will continue to keep everyone in his sights, in spite of those who feel he’s too green to worry about the title picture.
“I’m here to entertain. I’m here to let everybody know that I am the new challenger,” Thurman clarifies. “If you play an old school game, you put your quarter in and hit that start button. On the screen comes the message, ‘Here is your new challenger.’ Do we want to see the same old faces over and over, or do we want to see fresh new talent?
“That was my way of announcing my arrival. I am the new challenger on the scene and am ready to prove it against anyone.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox