By Keith Idec
Two other welterweight fights scheduled for Saturday night in Las Vegas have received much more attention than Keith Thurman’s clash with Italy’s Leonard Bundu.
But by the time those three fights are completed early Sunday morning, Thurman hopes his performance is so impressive fight fans will talk enthusiastically again about his career, the way they did earlier this year. After the Thurman-Bundu bout Saturday night at MGM Grand, Amir Khan and Devon Alexander will square off in a 12-round, 147-pound main event that Showtime also will televise. A short trip down Las Vegas Boulevard, welterweights Timothy Bradley and Diego Chaves are scheduled to square off in another 12-round welterweight bout that’ll headline HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader from The Cosmopolitan.
“When you’ve got that many welterweights performing the same night, there’s going to be a lot of talk,” Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs) said on a recent conference call. “Twitter and all the social media are going to go crazy around midnight, and I’m looking forward to it.”
A shoulder injury partially caused a 7½-month break between bouts for the undefeated contender from Clearwater, Fla. The long layoff halted the 26-year-old Thurman’s momentum following a career-changing, 13-month stretch in which he defeated former IBF welterweight champ Jan Zaveck, Chaves, Jesus Soto Karass and Julio Diaz.
Thurman’s fight against the 40-year-old Bundu (31-0-2, 11 KOs) will mark his first action since April 26, when he stopped an injured Diaz after three rounds in Carson, Calif.
“I’m just really happy to be getting back in the ring,” said Thurman, who’ll defend his WBA interim welterweight title. “I’m really happy to showcase my skills and my talent once again. I’m extremely excited to be going up against an undefeated fighter who was an Olympian, who presents a European style.
“We’ve seen the skills that Kell Brook brought to the table when he fought Shawn Porter, and it’s interesting, man. A lot of people in the U.S. don’t know Bundu, but we know that the Europeans can box. And for him to be an Olympian, you heard him [on the conference call], he doesn’t feel 40. Age is just a number to him. His last fight, he fought a young man who was 28 years old [England’s Frankie Gavin] and fought him in his hometown and beat him [by split decision]. He is a smart boxer, an intelligent fighter, and it’s going to be a great fight. Overall, I do put in my head, in the back of my mind, that not only do I want to win, but I would like to out-perform every welterweight that steps in the ring that night.”
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.