Keith Thurman is raring to get back to the top of the welterweight mountain.
Once the creme de la creme of boxing’s so-called glamor division, the former titleholder has seen his stock drop ever since his points loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2019 and his subsequent inactivity. He is poised, however, to rectify the latter when he returns to the ring Feb. 5 against Mario Barrios at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas on Fox Pay-Per-View. It will be “One Time’s” first fight in more than two-and-a-half years.
While a title won’t be on the line for the Barrios fight, Thurman has indicated he wants to challenge for one by July. Indeed, he hopes that his performance against Barrios will serve as a launchpad into a consequential title bout against one of the three current beltholders in the division: Yordenis Ugas (WBA), Errol Spence Jr. (WBC, IBF), or Terence Crawford (WBO).
“I cannot stop other people from putting fights together,” Thurman told FightHubTV. “But if Thurman could have it Thurman’s way, what it comes down to is getting back in the ring, putting on an exciting fight, showing people what it looks like to watch Keith Thurman in the ring after so many years, to remind the people who Keith Thurman is and what I bring to the welterweight division, and then from there, it’s Ugas, Spence or Crawford.”
Ugas and Spence are likely to face each other in a unification bout this spring, reportedly sometime in March or April on pay-per-view. Thurman could potentially fight the winner of that bout. That would be a realistic option, given that Ugas, Spence, and Thurman are all aligned with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions. Crawford, a longtime client of Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., is now a free agent but it is not clear which direction he plans on taking his career. Crawford is coming off an 10th-round knockout of Shawn Porter in November.
Whatever the politics, Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) simply wants a title shot by the summer.
“I don’t have a belt right now, I want a belt back,” Thurman said. “So, all three of those guys are legitimate for a fight this up and coming summer. I’m fighting the first quarter of 2022, I can take a fight by July.”