By Keith Idec
Each time Dan Birmingham works Keith Thurman’s corner, the veteran trainer becomes more convinced the fighter nicknamed “One Time” is headed toward stardom.
The undefeated welterweight concluded a stellar 2013 by stopping stubborn Mexican contender Jesus Soto Karass in the ninth round Saturday night at Alamodome in San Antonio. Another impressive performance by the hard-hitting Thurman (22-0, 20 KOs, 1 NC) left the Clearwater, Fla., native with victories over Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KOs, 1 NC), previously unbeaten Argentine contender Diego Chaves (22-1, 18 KOs) and former IBF welterweight title-holder Jan Zaveck (33-3, 18 KOs, 1 NC) during this calendar year.
“I think he can become a major superstar, like a Pacquiao,” Birmingham told BoxingScene.com. “I really believe in him. His style, the way he thinks in the ring, his ring generalship, his experience, with over a hundred amateur fights and seven national titles, I just think he’s destined for it.”
Birmingham became Thurman’s head trainer after Thurman’s mentor and longtime trainer, Ben Getty, died suddenly in May 2009. By then, Birmingham knew Thurman would succeed as a pro because he had learned so much from numerous sparring sessions with former world champions Ronald “Winky” Wright, Chad Dawson and Jeff Lacy, all former world champions Birmingham trained.
The 25-year-old Thurman’s improvement as a boxer has left Birmingham more confident than ever that the interim WBA welterweight champion will fight his way to the elite level Wright reached after defeating Shane Mosley twice in 2004.
“I tell Keith all the time,” Birmingham said, “that the main thing for fighters is, when they get to this level, with the boredom of training, the repetition of the training, you have to be self-motivated every day and maximize every day, every second, in the gym. But I really believe he can be a superstar. People love him when they see him. He can box, he can punch. He’s confident, he speaks well. A lot of people call him cocky. I don’t think he’s cocky. I just think he’s very confident.”
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.