“That dude got no great defense, no great speed, no great power, no great anything.”
“I’ll walk right through Rios.”
That was WBA World welterweight champion Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KO’s) speaking on fellow 147 lb. fighter Brandon Rios (33-2-1, 24 KO’s) for Esnewsreporting.com at a recent fan expo.
Rios had just been granted a shot at Timothy Bradley’s (32-1-1, 12 KO’s) WBO belt for this coming November, and Thurman predicted the champion would win by decision when asked for continuing with the comments above.
For whatever reason, Thurman made a point of belittling Rios, and according to a member of the Fight Hype team he labeled Rios as an ‘inappropriate’ contender for Bradley’s title. That message was then relayed to Rios’ trainer Robert Garcia.
“Yeah well, and his opponents he’s had lately in the last two fights they’re very appropriate. He’s fighting guys they’re bringing out from retirement.”
Thurman’s last two title defences have been against Robert Guerrero and Luis Collazo and it is to the latter that jibe is likely directed.
The 34-year-old Collazo resurfaced early in 2014 to knock out a returning Victor Ortiz after an extended period in the lower leagues. That win propelled him back to relevance and he took on Amir Khan in a losing effort two fights before he was given a world title shot against Thurman in July this year.
Collazo retired in the seventh round in a one-sided loss where his only moment of success came with a body shot that visibly hurt Thurman early on. After that business resumed as usual.
Garcia has a point. Rios is far more qualified to fight for a world title -given his overall body of work in the pro ranks- than Collazo, whose only brief stint as world champion ended over a decade ago. He’s a solid veteran, but just short of contender status.
In the end, Garcia did not seem overly offended and he ended the discussion with this assertion, which few would dispute.
“Let him say what he says. I think he’ll be in a tough one if he fights Brandon. He knows that.”