By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Keith Thurman was impressed with Errol Spence Jr.’s spectacular knockout of Chris Algieri.
Thurman considers Spence a potential opponent as well, but called Algieri “a chump” on Tuesday and admitted that an appealing welterweight bout between him and Spence won’t happen later this year. The 27-year-old Thurman also acknowledged that his June 25 fight against Shawn Porter is the most difficult assignment of his eight-year pro career, which makes talk of a Spence showdown premature.
“I’m gonna give you the realness, because I don’t like being fake, all right?,” Thurman said after a press conference in Manhattan to promote the Porter fight. “We’ve got tons of fighters in the welterweight division. And we’ve got people who have what I call spotlight priority over Spence. There’s people on my list that’s higher than him. Like I said, there was once upon a time I was a bad dude. A lot of people had spotlight priority [over me]. Their names were bigger. They’d been doing it longer. They’ve already been on the scene longer than I have, and they didn’t wanna talk about me because they had other people that they could fight.
“Now, I do have other people that I could fight. I will accomplish more by fighting some of those names. But the real about Errol Spence is I think it’s a fight that can happen. I don’t think it’s a fight that’s gonna happen this year. I do think it’s a fight that is worth not ducking, not dodging, but building. It is a fight worth building. And if you declare that it is not, then obviously you really don’t know boxing.”
The 26-year-old Spence (20-0, 17 KOs) legitimized himself as a top welterweight by knocking down Algieri three times on his way to a fifth-round knockout April 16 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the same arena where Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) will oppose Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs). Thurman thinks Spence’s victory is noteworthy, yet doesn’t consider Algieri (21-3, 8 KOs) a real welterweight.
“He can make as many comments as he wants,” Thurman said, referring to Spence’s recent comments about Thurman’s resume. “Let’s be honest once again – Chris Algieri is not a welterweight and hasn’t beaten a welterweight. He didn’t get famous from beating everybody up. So was he a name? Yes. Was he an ex-champion? Yes. Now, his comment was something of the nature, and I hate responding on some of these, man, because why has Keith Thurman been at the top of the game, but has only fought one Top-10 fighter? Is that because of Keith Thurman? Are those the fights that Keith Thurman wanted for himself? The answer is no. For the past several years, as soon as I got on the scene, I let the whole world know. I told Paulie Malignaggi, ‘You better not duck me, son.’ I was talking to him, but I was also talking to every welterweight. I was hungry for everybody.”
Thurman thus understands why the emerging Spence, a 2012 Olympian from DeSoto, Texas, is talking publicly about boxing him in the near future.
“Am I mad at Errol Spence for being in my shoes,” Thurman continued, “in my situation, where I was three years ago, knowing you have the skills and the ability to be champion of the world, feel like you can take on everybody? And so what do you wanna do? You wanna call out the dude at the top. Who am I, but the man at the top. For me, the man at the top was Floyd. What did Floyd do? Not acknowledge me. Am I gonna treat Errol like that? No, I’m not gonna treat Errol like that. I’m gonna acknowledge the boy. You have acknowledgement. You have the right to say what you wanna do. You put on a great performance.
“I don’t care that Chris Algieri is a chump. It’s about making the chumps look like a chump. Some people get in the ring with chumps and they make them look like contenders. He didn’t pretend. He showcased his skills and his talent on that night, and he looked great doing it. Did he fight the best in the world? No, he didn’t. What did he fight? Did he fight anybody that’s more superior than all the other ex-world champions that they put me through? [Robert] Guerrero might be the only dude in the top 10 [that I fought]. But look at the resume of ex-world champions. And then tell me how many ex-world champions you’ve been through, and let me know how many you’ve put into retirement. Because I put two, baby.”
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.