Keith Thurman will fight once in 2023 after all. (photo by Ryan Hafey) has confirmed that Thurman has agreed to challenge WBA world welterweight champion Eimantas Stanionis on December 9 in Las Vegas. The bout between Thurman, a former WBA/WBC 147-pound champion, and Stanionis will be part of a pay-per-view card Showtime will distribute from MGM Grand Garden Arena, which will commemorate the venue’s 100th boxing card that night.

As previously reported, the December 9 show likely will include a middleweight championship bout in which one of Thurman’s rivals, Danny Garcia, will encounter Erislandy Lara, the WBA 160-pound titleholder, and a lightweight rematch between Chris Colbert and Jose Valenzuela.

Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC), who will turn 35 next month, will end a 22-month layoff the night he faces Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs, 1 NC) in their 12-round title fight. The Clearwater, Florida native hasn’t boxed since his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Mario Barrios (28-2, 18 KOs) in February 2022 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

Though considered one of the top welterweights in boxing for the better part of the past 10 years, Thurman has fought just three times since his 12-round, split-decision victory over Garcia (37-3, 21 KOs) in their welterweight title unification fight in March 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Thurman thought he would finally face Premier Boxing Champions rival Errol Spence Jr. in a 12-round, 154-pound bout earlier this year, but Spence instead finalized a deal for his long-awaited welterweight title unification showdown with Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs). Crawford dropped Spence (28-1, 22 KOs) three times and stopped him in the ninth round July 29 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Lithuania’s Stanionis, 29, will end a lengthy layoff of his own, 19 months, when he meets Thurman.

Stanionis was scheduled to make a mandated defense of his secondary WBA belt against Vergil Ortiz Jr. on July 8 at AT&T Center in San Antonio. That fight was canceled July 6 because Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) was temporarily hospitalized after fainting two days before he was scheduled to make weight.

The WBA has since ruled that Stanionis can make a voluntary defense against an opponent other than Ortiz next. Thurman is the WBA’s third-ranked contender in the 147-pound division.

Crawford, boxing’s undisputed welterweight champion, is recognized as the WBA’s true champion in the 147-pound division.

Stanionis hasn’t fought since he defeated Russia’s Radzhab Butaev (14-1, 11 KOs, 1 NC) by 12-round split decision to win the WBA world title in April 2022 at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The 2016 Olympian was due to earn a career-high purse of $1,750,000 for opposing Ortiz because Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Ortiz, won a WBA purse bid by offering $2,300,000 to put on the Stanionis-Ortiz fight.  

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.