The back and forth beef between Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman has no bounds.
When Spence was climbing up the welterweight ranks, he had to play the waiting game for a potential shot at Thurman.
By March 2017, Thurman was an undefeated champion who had already beaten the likes of Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Robert Guerrero. Spence, meanwhile, did not become a welterweight titleholder until May 2017 when he had to travel to the United Kingdom to beat Kell Brook, at that point the biggest win of his career.
Spence (27-0, 21 KOS) was interested in a fight with Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) to prove his skills and ceiling dating back to 2015.
In 2021, however, it’s a completely different story, as the 32-year-old Thurman and 31-year-old Spence’s careers have been traveling in different directions.
Thurman has had to deal with hand and elbow surgeries that have allowed him to fight just twice since 2017. Both fights took place in a seven-month span in 2019, when Thurman returned and appeared rusty in a win over Josesito Lopez, only to then lose via split decision to Manny Pacquiao.
Since the Brook fight, Spence has beaten the likes of Lamont Peterson, Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, and he’s now the WBC and IBF champion getting ready to fight Pacquiao in a FOX Sports pay-per-view in Las Vegas on Aug. 21.
“Man, I don’t want anything to do with Keith Thurman. That ship has sailed. That ship's been gone. I don’t want anything to do with that man. He’s messing with me. He’s still a good fighter. He could still fight. I don’t really have any interest in it,” Spence told Barbershop Conversations.
“I don’t pay attention to it. He can fight [Yordenis] Ugas. He ain't going to get a fight with me … It’s just how he is. He’s just a cornball to me. I just can’t stand him.”
After Spence made his lukewarm feelings about a future fight be known, Thurman clapped with a rebuttal.
“Why would I look down [at Spence] when I was trying to get a Floyd [Mayweather] fight back then? I was trying to get a Pacquiao fight back then when I was 26-years-old,” Thurman told Fight Hype. “Instead, I had to take what was coming to me, which was all these other fights.
“We need fighters like Errol Spence to fight fighters like Keith Thurman; we need that. But we also need people to know what type of fight it is when it is. If you do [Thurman vs. Spence] early, people aren’t going to fully understand the magnitude of that fight.
“My whole objective was me vs. Pacquiao, and then Thurman-Spence. Do you think if Pacquiao got defeated, Spence would be fighting Pacquiao at this moment? No, he wouldn’t be fighting Pacquiao at this moment, so that falls back on me. That’s my mistake; I allowed this door to open. ‘We don’t need Thurman.’
“If that’s how [Spence] wants to go about the welterweight division, so be it. I ain’t never got a phone call once in my life to fight Errol Spence, and we got the same manager … I’m not following your shadow. [Spence] is fighting my shadow.
“I don’t think [Spence] really wants it. I think we can still make it happen unless he wants to make this fight [with Pacquiao], unify, salute and jump out of the welterweight division. If he jumps out of the welterweight division, it ain’t on Thurman; it’s on him. Maybe I’ll follow him. Maybe I’ll just tell him, ‘I’ll follow you wherever you go.’ Why? Because I seek ‘The Truth’ these days. I’m a ‘Truth’ seeker; I seek ‘The Truth.’”
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