The winner of the Keith Thurman-Mario Barrios welterweight bout could be rewarded with an immediate title shot, according to former titlist Thurman.
The Clearwater, Florida native suggested Tuesday that he believes his non-title Fox pay-per-view fight with Barrios on Feb. 5 at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas could be changed to an eliminator, meaning the winner of that bout would be next in line to face the winner of the Errol Spence Jr.-Yordenis Ugas title unification bout reported to land sometime in the spring; Spence holds the IBF and WBC welterweight titles, while Ugas is the WBA titlist.
Apparently, Thurman, 33, says he has been told this was always a possible outcome. Moreover, a recent development seems to have strengthened his view on this: the WBC, which he says has nothing to do with his fight against Barrios, got in touch with him about a “weigh-in check.”
“It may have not been announced – You seem like you’re a little unaware,” Thurman said in a conversation with Ray Flores on Instagram Live. “But the WBC approached me for a weigh-in check. And I said, why is the WBC approaching me for a weigh-in check? I don’t hold the WBC title. Mario Barrios doesn’t hold the WBC title. They have no right to check my weight. Unless this fight is a title eliminator, which I knew there was a small possibility of being on the books.
“If it hasn’t been fully announced. This is my way of announcing it. They’ve been coming at me. If they wanna stop checking my weight, you know, if they’re gonna do something else, they’re gonna do something else. But everything in boxing is done for a reason. And I know that the only reason the WBC can request such a thing weeks prior to a fight…is because this fight will be a 12-round title eliminator for the WBC.”
Thurman’s answer was in response to a question about whether or not he would be interested in facing Terence Crawford, the WBO welterweight titleholder. Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) spoke out recently about wanting to fight any of the titlists in his division before the end of the year. Crawford (, however, unlike Thurman, Spence (27-0, 21 KOs), and Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs), is not affiliated with Premier Boxing Champions, making a fight, theoretically, more difficult to achieve. Crawford, to be sure, is a free agent after his contract with his longtime promoter Top Rank ended last November; Crawford sued his ex-promoter last week for breach of contract and alleging that its head, Bob Arum, is a racist.
Thurman made it clear that if the WBC sanctions his fight against Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs) as an eliminator, Crawford will be in his rearview mirror, at least temporarily.
“So whomever holds the WBC title later this year is most likely who Keith Thurman will be fighting,” Thurman said. “I look forward to that challenge. I look forward to that opportunity. And then after that we can talk about other champions.
“If something was to happen politically where I do not get to forcefully make the WBC champion face Keith Thurman, then obviously, with a contract, with a great fight proposal, I’d be more than open to fighting Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford.”