By Keith Idec
Every time Errol Spence Jr. shares a room with Keith Thurman, the unbeaten IBF welterweight champ makes sure to state that he doesn’t think Thurman will ever share a ring with him.
Spence took advantage of that opportunity again Tuesday during the PBC/FOX press conference at FOX’s studios in Los Angeles. When a reporter asked Spence why he’ll fight WBC lightweight champ Mikey Garcia on March 16, rather than Thurman, the WBA welterweight champ, or Shawn Porter, who owns the WBC welterweight title, Spence mocked Thurman.
“Well, I mean, that’s the fight that’s been offered to me,” Spence said regarding fighting Garcia on March 16. “And I think that’s a big fight in Dallas. And with Shawn Porter, I thought that fight was gonna happen. It somehow fell out. And with Keith Thurman, he’s gonna stay injured as long as I keep winning. So I mean, I don’t think me and him ever gonna fight. He mess around and retire, I’ll get that WBC belt.”
Thurman hasn’t fought since defeating Danny Garcia by split decision in March 2017. The Clearwater, Florida, native had elbow surgery the following month, but his return, which had been scheduled for May 19, was delayed due to a hand injury.
The 29-year-old Thurman’s inactivity cost him the WBC welterweight title and some of his credibility among boxing fans. He is scheduled to fight Josesito Lopez on January 26 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
If the heavily favored Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) beats Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs), he hopes to secure a rematch with Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs). Thurman edged Porter to win a unanimous decision in June 2016 at Barclays Center, but Porter won the WBC title Thurman vacated six months ago by defeating Danny Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs) by unanimous decision September 8 at Barclays Center.
Porter will make the first defense of that title March 9, when he’ll encounter Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs) in Las Vegas.
Thurman insisted Tuesday that he’ll eventually face Spence. There’s no doubt, though, that Spence-Terence Crawford has supplanted Spence-Thurman as the welterweight title unification fight fans most want to see.
“Well, first off, each one of these fights is a great fight for Errol Spence,” Thurman said, referring to Spence facing him, Mikey Garcia or Porter. “OK? And outside of that, I don’t know what happened with negotiations with Shawn [and Spence]. But obviously, I’m healthy and I’m ready. From the beginning, when I stepped on the scene, I said I wanted this belt, I said I wanted that belt. I told you guys I wanna grab all the belts, you know? So I’m still on a mission, but my health comes first. In boxing, there are times where what you want today, you’re not gonna get today. But you can still look forward to tomorrow.
“Luckily, today I think this is a tremendous fight that’s gonna happen. I think this is a big opportunity for all of us, and working with FOX. And I truly look forward to that up and coming fight. I look forward to getting back in the ring, establishing myself as the No. 1 welterweight champion in the world, getting this belt back and then negotiating for that big fight with Errol Spence, the one he thinks he’ll never get. I’m not Floyd Mayweather, son.”
The 28-year-old Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), of DeSoto, Texas, and Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs), of Oxnard, California, will meet March 16 in pay-per-view bout distributed by FOX. Spence-Garcia will take place at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.