It’s been more than two years since the biggest fight of Keith Thurman’s career.
It’s been less than a year since the biggest fight in the career of Mario Barrios.
Both men were positioned on the main event, pay-per-view stage and Saturday night they each make their return to the same stage (Fox PPV, 9 PM EST).
This time, barring a draw, one of them is going to find out what it’s like to win there.
Thurman came off the floor in the first round and battled gamely in 2019 but he ended up the name on the other side of Manny Pacquiao’s last great chapter. Barrios, like Thurman, fought hard but it wasn’t enough against a quicker, more talented Gervonta Davis last year.
For Barrios, it’s a second chance near the top level of the sport in a career built well to get him into these positions but without any particular high-quality wins to mark him more than a good opponent a tier down from the best in the game.
For Thurman, a former unified welterweight titlist, it’s an opportunity to get back into the mix as a potential name brand opponent for WBO titlist Terence Crawford or the winner of the unification clash between Errol Spence and Yordenis Ugas.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Previous Titles: WBA “super” Welterweight (2013-19, 8 Defenses including interim title fights); WBC welterweight (2017-18)
Height: 5’7 ½
Weight: 145 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Clearwater, Florida
Record: 29-1, 22 KO
Press Rankings: Unranked
Record in Major Title Fights: 5-1, 1 KO (10-0, 4 KO including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 192-21-3 (.896)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Jan Zaveck UD12; Robert Guerrero UD12; Shawn Porter UD12; Danny Garcia SD12; Manny Pacquiao L12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Carlos Quintana TKO4; Julio Diaz RTD3; Luis Collazo RTD7
Title/Previous Titles: None*
Weight: 146 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: San Antonio, Texas
Record: 26-1, 17 KO
Press Rankings: At 140: #6 (Ring), #7 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-1, 1 KO, 1 KOBY in WBA sub-title fights
Last Five Opponents: 88-5 (.946)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Gervonta Davis TKO by 11
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
*Held WBA sub-title at super lightweight, 2019-21, 1 Defense
The Pick: Friday’s weigh-in hinted that Barrios may be better off at welterweight. He’s taller than Thurman, scaled heavier, and has longer arms. Against a Thurman who will be seeing live action for the first time since the summer of 2019, Barrios will need to establish his jab and disrupt Thurman getting his timing down if the older man carries any ring rust. Barrios has quick hands and a smart body attack to aid his mission. Thurman’s edge will come in physical strength, experience, his own sound body attack, and a crafty left hook at his best that can catch Barrios when he steps out of exchanges. The question here is whether a Thurman who has battled injuries is the better for the rest or simply past his best. This is a tough one to pick. Assuming Thurman is close to the fighter who endured a war with Shawn Porter and outpointed Danny Garcia, he has to be the favorite. Thurman has shown he can win at the championship level. Barrios has shown he can compete. The pick is Thurman by decision.
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Rold Picks 2022: 3-1
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org