It took a while, but Keith Thurman is finally warming up to the idea of fighting rising welterweight star and second-generation attraction Conor Benn. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
The 25-year-old Benn (21-0, 14 KOs) and promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing have been pleading for the opportunity to fight Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) over the last year.
But the former 147-pound champion nicknamed “One Time” seemingly has never offered a single response to Benn, instead focusing on more high-profiled fights against the likes of like Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford.
Last week “The Destroyer” Benn said Thurman should call it quits and retire if he wasn’t going to fight.
Apparently, Benn’s proclamation was enough to finally get Thurman’s attention.
“I had to Google what [Benn’s] face looks like, so I kind of have an image now. He’s a London boy, a European fighter. It seems like he has a decent boxing background, coming from a fighting family. I don’t know enough about the kid. You see that I was inactive. I really wanted to have a fight this summer,” Thurman told Marcos Villegas of Fight Hub TV.
“That’s why I’m getting my weight ready because we’re going to have something before this year is over. But anybody that says my name, you know what you really got to do.
“If you talk hard enough, I might have to talk back because I can only let people do so much. I might have done three days of silence but it doesn’t mean I’m out here trying to be silent. I’m all about good fights. I’m all about contracts.
“If [Benn’s] management has a contract and a legitimate payday. Anytime they say, ‘Thurman won’t fight this young fighter.’ I’ll fight all the young fighters – I’ll fight them all.
“The only thing is, I love great fights, I love good contracts. So if the money is there on the table, the date is good and we can make it happen. I’ve never fought overseas. It might entice me. I love doing something new.
“I just schooled one young blood. I don’t mind. I’m not a gatekeeper. I’m a real one. I have the capacity to go toe-to-toe with these undefeated champions right now.”
The 33-year-old Thurman fought for the first time since losing to Manny Pacquaio in July 2019 earlier this January when he beat Mario Barrios via unanimous decision.
Ever since Thurman’s fight with Pacquaio, Benn has put himself on the 147-pound map, stringing wins against credible contenders like Sebastian Formella, Samuel Vargas, Adrian Granados, Chris Algieri, and Chris van Heerden.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.