Regardless of what you may think about Keith “One Time” Thurman and his in-ring abilities, the one undeniable fact about the undefeated welterweight fighter from Florida is his vast intelligence. If you’ve ever seen an interview with Thurman or were lucky enough to speak with him for a few minutes, then you know his intellect is immediately apparent upon his initial comments, regardless of the subject matter.
Thurman speaks in a way that leads you to believe that he has given real consideration to what he is saying and that he finds it true based on sound reasoning and carefully measured analytics. This kind of thoughtfulness and attention to detail is a breath of fresh air when compared to a lot of other fighters in the sport.
I’ve learned a couple things over the years from my time interviewing fighters, and I have a few thoughts on why a fighter will give bad interviews. First, the fighter is either too young or too inexperienced to give well thought out answers, or they can appear timid to the point that they don’t realize what they’re even being asked a question.
Worse than that are the fighters with so much experience and a bit pretentious from years under the limelight that they give these regurgitated answers that have clearly been manifested by publicists and managers who are conscious of the fact that they don’t want their fighters saying anything that will leave them too vulnerable.
Thurman is different. He is honest and genuine. So when he says that he made a calculated decision to box Leonard Bundu for the remainder of his 12 round decision victory as opposed to trying to stop him in dramatic fashion, I believe him.
“People are saying a thousand and one different things about the Bundu fight,” Thurman told Thaboxingvoice.com. “I got a knockdown in the first round, I had an option, you either jump on him right then or you get more rounds. My assumption was well if you knocked him down early you’ll knock him down later.
“By the 5th round, I realized he wasn’t willing to get put back in that same position to be knocked back down. So I had to make a conscious decision, and we decided to box and outclass him, to score and not get hit, to get our points.”
Thurman will be fighting his toughest opponent to date when he steps into the ring with Robert Guerrero this Saturday night in the highly anticipated debut of Al Haymon’s Premiere Boxing Champions series on NBC, live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thurman is smart, that is obvious, but he is a different kind of smart. He is smart enough to know when he should push the knockout and when playing it safe is the best option. With all eyes on his main event, Thurman knows that a stoppage would go a long way in cementing his reputation with casual fans, not to mention the joy Haymon would get out of a successful first showing, which would put him in the powerful advisor’s favor.
Thurman won’t go out there looking to make an overzealous mistake, but he will be prepared for the occasion by taking what he can from Guerrero.
“I did that consciously as a world-class fighter [in the Bundu fight], so this fight (with Guerrero) is going to be a little different, it’s a different opponent. I don’t know exactly what Guerrero is going to do, is he going to try to use some of his boxing skills or is he going to try to run me over? No matter what it is, I’m a fighter that can make the adjustment.”
The stage is set for Thurman to bust out on the scene and the more drama he creates inside the ring on Saturday the more recognition he’ll get from casual fans, and eventually we will demand he get a shot at Floyd Mayweather Jr.
What would help matters is if he were to stop a fighter that Mayweather couldn’t. Mayweather won a drama free decision over Guerrero in his first fight out of prison, which was also his first fight under his monumental Showtime contract.
If he can make that statement and draw the comparisons to Floyd’s outing against Guerrero, it will further his status.
“It’d be beautiful [to stop Guerrero]. I love when people have never been stopped before. Some fighters are more durable than others. You can’t stop everybody, some people know how to last. I’m a world-class fighter, but he too is a world-class fighter. It’s going to be a great fight Saturday night.”