By Jake Donovan
With unbeaten welterweight titlist Errol Spence due to defend his crown versus four-division titlist Mikey Garcia this weekend, every major 147-pound beltholder under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) umbrella will have fought within the first quarter of 2019.
Pending the outcome of the aforementioned March 16 clash at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, next steps will be discussed for the elite roster of welterweight talent. That’s not stopping some from already plotting their next move, though.
Long-reigning titlist Keith Thurman returned to the ring following a near two-year absence with a hard-fought 12-round win over Josesito Lopez this past January in Brooklyn, New York. The win came one week after the PBC debut of Manny Pacquiao, who defended his secondary title in a 12-round whitewash of former four-division titlist Adrien Broner.
Both are in the market for a bout in late spring or early summer, with at least one side hoping a head-on collision is on deck.
“I hope I get the fight,” Thurman (29-0, 22KOs) said of a potential superfight with Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39KOs) while serving as an in-studio guest host on Fox’s Inside PBC Boxing. “I asked for the fight as soon as I was done in the ring in Brooklyn. I think it’s a great fight.
“I think it’s a good matchup for Manny Pacquiao, who is the WBA “Regular” welterweight champ, while I am the WBA “Super” champ. Manny Pacquiao was adamant, he said he still has a lot of fight in him. Prove it, step up to the plate and fight me.”
Upon his ring return, it was thought that Thurman’s 2019 campaign—by his own admission during a PBC Upfront session which rolled out the 1st quarter Fox Sports schedule—would be more about finding his way around the ring again before pursuing the truly big fights.
Apparently, the 30-year old Floridian was satisfied with what he took away from his aforementioned win over Lopez. Then again, the opportunity to face Pacquiao is very much a moving target these days and—as time marches on—one which will only grow increasingly difficult to obtain.
“For me, he’s the last living legend in the sport and it would be an honor to share the ring with him,” Thurman admits of the 40-year old future Hall of Famer from Philippines. “But he’s not the future of boxing. Keith Thurman is, Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, these fighters are the future of boxing.
“But Pacquiao is a legend, a well-respected fighter and I would really enjoy sharing the ring with and getting a piece of Manny Pacquaio.”
Of course, Thurman is fully prepared to seek out a sufficient back-up plan—perhaps a rematch with Shawn Porter, who outpointed Yordenis Ugas last Saturday live on Fox—in the event that Pacquiao decides to take a different route for however long is left in his career.
“He is Manny Pacquiao, though,” Thurman acknowledges. “He does have options.”
JaKe Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox