2012 was a great year for boxing. The year saw a consistent string of competitive bouts, memorable outcomes, and breakout performances that hint at potential greatness. One such example of a breakout fighter in 2012 was 24-year old prospect, Keith Thurman (19-0, 18 knockouts). In 2012, Thurman managed to go 4-0 against his opponents with each of those wins coming by way of knockout, and looks to further improve on this streak as he shows no signs of slowing down.
“I’d like to see three [fights in 2013]. I think that’d be really nice. We’ll have to see what’s going to happen, but that’s just how I’ve felt ever since the end of 2012. We should be able to get three in this year. ”
With a steadily improving boxing game, as well as obvious one-punch knockout power, Thurman has managed to catch the eye of not only fans, but the general media as well. In about a year’s time, Thurman has gone from relative unknown to being considered the future of the welterweight division. Tha’ Boxing Voice even recognized Thurman as its 2012 Prospect of the Year. It’s this kind of break-out year that can build careers; Unfortunately, with a break-out year also comes added pressure from both fans and the media. To those that aren’t ready, this kind of attention and constant pressure is enough to destroy a career as quickly as it was initially built up. For Thurman, it’s this constant spotlight in which he seems to not only manage to succeed in, but thrive.
“To be honest, you just keep living your life. I got into the boxing game for a reason. If you do some history and look at articles from when I was younger, you’d see that I’ve been boxing since I was 7-years old. I’ve been groomed for this. I was groomed to be a champion. I’ve been in the ring with champions since I was 16-years old. So hearing the word champion, and being where I am in my career, is really not a surprise, it’s more like destiny. This is what we set out to do. I’m just very blessed and thankful that I’ve been able to do so well thus far, and I look to keep doing it.”
2013 is already shaping up to be another interesting year for Thurman. His first fight of the year sees him matched up in a WBO title eliminator against veteran, Jan Zaveck (32-2, 18 knockouts). Zaveck’s career lately can be described as anything but consistent. In 2012 he fought just once, a Unanimous Decision win against Bethuel Ushona (28-2-1), and will have been out of the ring for close to a year by the time he faces Thurman on March 9th. Even with his recent lack of activity, Thurman is aware of the threat that Zaveck provides in this match-up.
“As an opponent, just like I would expect for this point of my career, I believe that he’ll be the toughest person I’m about to safe so far. He’s a very strong and physical fighter; He’s game; He’s a veteran; He’s been [in the ring] with some of the best, and he’s gone twelve rounds many times so he knows what he’s doing in the ring, and it should be a good fight.”
With this bout serving as a title eliminator, one wouldn’t be wrong to assume that there must be a lot of pressure to score another spectacular stoppage in Thurman’s most significant bout to date. With heavy promotion by HBO, one can guarantee that all eyes and mounting pressure will be on Thurman as he looks to move on to the next stage of his career.
“The fact that it’s a title-eliminator has nothing to do with [the pressure to stop my opponent]. The fact that I’m a young prospect on the rise who has something to prove, 19-0 with 18 knockouts, I always feel the pressure while being under the spotlights of HBO; and all of the critics, they build us up and can’t wait to break us down, so there’s always pressure. At the end of the day I’m going to go out, do my job, and I’m going to represent myself to the best of my abilities to the fans.”
One of the most interesting and talked about aspects of this fight is the fact that the victor earns a shot at Timothy Bradley(29-0, 12 knockouts) for his WBO welterweight title. Thurman’s seemingly endless hunger for competition, as well as his constant calling out of the welterweight division’s “big dogs”, is enough to make a future Bradley vs. Thurman bout incredibly enticing, but there’s another layer to this which makes a meeting of the two even more interesting. Although they are both at different stages of their professional careers, both faced off as amateurs. The result of their meeting is relatively unknown, but it’s this kind of early encounter that just adds to an already interesting match-up. It’s these kinds of match-ups that get Thurman excited at his potential future atop of the division.
“Like I said, it’s everything we’ve set out to do. I’m a problem in the welterweight division. I’m an undefeated fighter; I’m hungry; I’m entertaining. It’s only a matter of time, as long as I keep doing me, that everybody is going to have to fight me. I’m going after the world of boxing. This is my life. This is what I do. I enjoy every minute of it, and I’m looking forward to Zaveck, as well as all other obstacles I’ll face as my career continues. ”
For now, all of Thurman’s focus is concentrated on his March 9th fight against Zaveck as he continues to prepare for what even he deems his toughest test thus far. With confidence that is as abundant as his punching power, Thurman has solidified the fact that he is the man to watch at 147 lbs.
“I’m just making sure that I have everything I need to do to prepare for a 12-round performance. I definitely don’t underestimate the guy and think that my power is going to be able to take care of the job early just because I’ve been accustomed to it in other occasions, so we’re just going to have to see what happens. I just need to come 100%. As long as I come 100%, I don’t know who’s going to stop me, and like I already said, that’s why I’m in this game. We’re going to see what happens. I’m on the rise, so look out and tune in [to HBO] on March 9th.”
-For news, updates, radio, and general boxing talk be sure to follow Tha’ Boxing Voice (@ThaBoxingVoice) on Twitter, as well as myself (@dfgonzalez305).