Keith Thurman is ready to enter the equation if the world’s top two welterweights still aren’t ready to face each other.
The sport still awaits the Errol Spence-Terence Crawford superfight that has been more than four years in the making but still without a finalized deal or fight date in place. There were hopes for the proposed undisputed welterweight championship to be signed and sealed in time to take place in November but that clearly is no longer the case.
As talks linger on, the WBA/WBC/IBF belts held by Spence (28-0, 22KOs) and WBO title possessed by Crawford (38-0, 29KOs) remain on hold.
It limits the opportunities for the rest of the top welterweights, including a former unified titlist in Thurman (30-1, 22KOs) who remains eager to get back in the mix. The entire aftermath of his lone career defeat to Manny Pacquiao in July 2019 has been spent calling out both unbeaten welterweight titlists, particularly Crawford who for the past two years has remained a target of the Florida native.
“Clearly, nobody knows nothing right now,” Thurman insisted of Spence-Crawford talks while on a group Instagram Live hosted by WBA bantamweight titlist Jamie Mitchell. “Clearly, it’s been a year since that boy fought right now. Clearly, if he can’t come up with something to do, I’ll fill the slot.
“I don’t worry about other people’s business. They’re supposed to be negotiating. I know I’m ready.”
Thurman once served as the best welterweight in the world. He reached the pinnacle of his career following a split decision win over Danny Garcia in their March 2017 WBA/WBC unification bout between unbeaten welterweight titlists. It was unfortunately followed by a 22-month inactive period while recovering from separate injuries.
Thurman returned in January 2019, having vacated the WBC belt by then but still in possession of the WBA title he defended in a twelve-round win over Josesito Lopez. His title reign came to an end with the loss to Pacquaio, having fought just once since then when he ended a 30-plus month layoff to soundly outpoint former secondary 140-pound titlist Mario Barrios on February 5 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
The months that have followed have seen Thurman eagerly wait out Spence-Crawford talks, as the thought of crowning an undisputed champ understandably trumps any other fight to be made. It has also stalled the careers of both key parties involved. Spence last fought in a tenth-round stoppage of Yordenis Ugas in their WBA/WBC/IBF unification bout on April 16 in Arlington, Texas.
Crawford will be out of the ring for more than a year by the time he finally returns to the ring. The 35-year-old switch-hitter from Omaha, Nebraska hasn’t fought since a tenth-round knockout of former two-time welterweight titlist Shawn Porter last November 20 at Michelob ULTRA Arena. That win came 53 weeks after his previous fight and—as talks with Spence drag along—is looking at a new career-long ring absence.
As someone who is well-versed on long gaps between fights, Thurman has been willing to help Crawford avoid that dilemma.
“It ain’t over. Thurman is still in the game,” insisted Thurman. “I got back. What happened to Crawford? Crawford talking all this ‘ish.’ I said to let me get my tune-up and then send me the contract. He was supposed to send me the contract. I got my tune-up in February. It could have been done.”
Thurman was previously expected to return to the ring in October. An updated timetable for his next fight—and for many others at welterweight and under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC)—has yet to be revealed as this goes to publish.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox