By Victor Salazar
New York - Prior to his inactivity and injuries, Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KO’s) was considered the best welterweight in the sport.
With victories over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, his resume spoke for itself. But since his victory over Garcia in 2017, Thurman had a near two year layoff.
This past January, he returned against Josesito Lopez, and he didn’t look like the Thurman of old.
He gets his chance at redemption and to have his biggest and most important victory of his career when he takes on Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO’s).
While Pacquiao isn’t the Pacquiao that was steamrolling eight divisions by storm, he still is the biggest name in the sport and some would be the best opponent Thurman has faced.
Thurman feels this will be his Oscar De La Hoya moment.
“It just feels like a blessing and an honor,” Thurman said to reporters at a New York press conference to promote his FOX pay-per-view fight with Pacquiao. “He said he hasn’t felt this way since Oscar D la Hoya. Manny Pacquiao is my Oscar De la Hoya, Manny Pacquiao is my Sugar Shane Mosley. Manny Pacquiao is my Floyd Mayweather, he beat all of them minus Floyd. So today is amazing, I get to feel like I’m fighting all of them in one fight because he’s bringing all that to the fight.”
A victory over Pacquiao in Las Vegas on July 20th puts him in the number one spot at 147 according to Thurman.
“It definitely puts me on top. It’s really how I do it. I got an 0 and I’m not afraid to let it go. One time is a go.”
Since Thurman’s injury, Errol Spence by popular opinion has taken the number one spot at 147. Spence’s last fight with Mikey Garcia did well on pay-per-view - but it wasn’t an action fight as both promised. Thurman thinks his fight with Pacquiao will deliver more than any fight this year.
“I think this is one of the best fights of the year,” Thurman said of Spence-Garcia. “I was a fan of Canelo’s last fight even though I didn’t watch it. I’m team Danny Jacobs. I thought it was a tremendous fight. Tell me a fight that’s better than Thurman-Pacquiao?”
Thurman reiterated that his fight with Pacquiao will be better than Spence’s with Garcia and hopes it does better at the box office.
“I have to admit. Mikey Garcia sold the fight. He had everyone believing he was going to do something. He didn’t have me believing it, but he had a lot of people believing it. The performance wasn’t the best fight of the year. Canelo’s last performance wasn’t one of the best fights of the year. I’m not saying Pac Thurman is the best fight of the year - but you can guarantee it's going to be better than those fights. When have you seen a bad Keith Thurman fight?. He’s a household name and I have a lot of fans. My story is good and his story is good, so I think it sells well," Thurman said.