Interviews

Published on June 15th, 2020 | by Percy Crawford

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With Two Healthy Hands, Keith Thurman Looks To Be a Force In The Welterweight Division Again!

Keith Thurman hopes to fight by the end of the year to test his surgically repaired hand.

Keith “One Time” Thurman suffered his first defeat last July against all-time great, Manny Pacquiao, essentially losing his stranglehold that he had on the welterweight division for years. Following that split decision loss, Thurman underwent surgery on his left hand which would sideline him until 2020. Unfortunately, for him and all of us, 2020 has been a nightmare that we have yet to wake up from. Covid-19 has prolonged his return to the ring and at this point, “One Time” is just hoping to squeeze a fight in by the end of the year to test out the repaired hand. Thurman hopes to test out the hand by the end of the year and in 2021, he hopes to recapture a title and submit himself back into the thick of things in the division again; a division known as the best in boxing. Thurman knows it won’t be easy, but fully embraces the challenge as well as the competitive nature of the division.

I spoke to, “One Time” about his ring return, the recent videos that surfaced of him training New Orleans Saints quarterback, Jameis Winston in boxing and much more!

“One Time,” what’s good?

Keith Thurman: Wassup wassup! I’m pretty good.

You were training newly acquired New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston recently. Most non-boxers boxing coordination is a little off, no matter how good of an athlete they are, he has long arms, he’s tall. What was it like teaching him the ropes given those circumstances I just named?

Keith Thurman: You know, it’s definitely a challenge taking somebody into another sport that’s out of their comfort zone. But what I liked was his work ethic, man. He’s a racehorse. He puts the pedal to the metal. He was taking every exercise and every workout to the fullest and the best of his ability; with or without coordination. It was just amazing to see him do his best to persevere no matter what. Okay, we’re doing it, we’re doing it. You need this out of me, I’m giving it to you. For me, that was the most inspiring thing. To see a young man working that hard, who has such a bright future and a good team around him. I wish the man the best of success in the NFL. I think he’s going to be a real hot topic in the next few years. I think he has the potential to be a very hot topic.

Did he genuinely want to learn a little boxing and how to fight, or was that more of a conditioning thing that led to the training session?

Keith Thurman: He’s definitely a big fan of the sport. He’s a fan of, “One Time,” and his training adviser wanted to change it up a little. They wanted to implement a little cross training. And the people that they associate with have known about our gym forever.  And he said, “You can go to all these gyms in Tampa, or you can make a drive over the bridge and go to, the gym of champions, and I can link you up with Keith Thurman, and I’m sure we can make something happen with, St. Pete Boxing Club.” And that’s what we did, man. It was under the Covid guidelines for the most part, but we were able to open it up and do a private session and keep a small circle in there. Right now, the gym is open fully to it’s members. We’re not taking new members at this time, but awe are letting some of our people back in. But it was just great, man. His people really wanted it for the footwork. And it was just something different. I get it. I do so many of the same things, that’s why every camp, I gotta bring in something different too. Some different kind of strength training, some different kind of core work, or something.

Absolutely! I see a bunch of offensive linemen use boxing to get their hands better, skill positions use it for footwork and things like that. Although, they are two completely different sports, the similarities in training can sometimes be beneficial.

Keith Thurman: Definitely! Shoot, before boxing I credit a lot of my hand-eye coordination on playing tennis and racket ball with my mother growing up. My hand-eye coordination at 4-years old was top of the class. The teacher told my mother, “We never had a 4-year old to be able to catch with both hands, throw with both hands,” and do all of the things that I was able to do. That pre-school had never saw a young athlete like that. I was so outgoing. And then I used to ice skate. I was ice-skating very early on. So, my hand and eye coordination and my balance, I contribute to activities I did before boxing. And then boxing just helped me further develop those attributes.

You recently had hand surgery to correct some things. How is the hand doing now?

Keith Thurman: Actually, I just talked to my doctor last night, the surgeon. I told him how good it feels. I’ve been doing yoga, which is a good thing. I pretty much competed with my joints all discombobulated in my hand. If I made good contact, there would be consequences on my end. On my side as well. And for a long time, I didn’t even realize how much pain I was in, until I’m finally out of pain. And I talked to the doctor about that last night and he said, “Athletes like you, you make it white noise. You put all the pain in the back because you live with it every day, so you don’t want to acknowledge it. It just ended up being white noise.” And now I don’t have that white noise. My hand feels great. Because of the cast, because of the lack of use from my last fight, Covid… it’s been a long time since I’ve given it 100%. My doctor said I should be able to punch a brick wall right now. He said it would not hurt my hand. Now, he said my wrist might not be up for that heavy of impact right now, but as long as I consistently build, my hand is going to be okay.

Obviously, fans don’t want to know those things, they don’t care about those things, but in your mind, if the hand is as strong as the doctor says it is and it holds up, do you feel like your best performance is still out there?

Keith Thurman: I don’t think I’ve put on my best performance in general. I’ve put on some amazing performance. I’ve had some great fights. I’ve been, Showtime’s, “Fight of the Year,” with Shawn Porter. But that doesn’t mean that that was Keith Thurman’s greatest performance. I have had some outstanding nice performances. Not against the level of competition that I wished for at that moment, but I have had some performances that I was happy with. One was my first headliner against, Julio Diaz. He had fought Shawn Porter to a draw, he fought Amir Khan. I was really happy with my performance. I was really happy with the way I was swaggin on him in the ring. I dropped my hands on the ropes. I Roy Jones’d him. It was only a 3-round fight, but I loved every second of the fight because I know what I did in preparation for the fight.

I mediated on the fact that I might be fighting… I put Floyd as my opponent to make me train hard. Because if I just accepted that Diaz was the competition, I was training for, I didn’t have that kind of mindset. I wanted to have the mindset that brought the best out of me. And I did that for that camp at that time. But I still believe that we haven’t seen the greatest Keith Thurman yet. I do believe I got more to give and I wanna give. So, I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring, getting back into a camp and putting myself through, what I believe is going to make me the biggest force in the welterweight division. Everything that I went through, like you said, a lot of people don’t care, but when I reflect on it, it took so much drama for me to lose by one point. If you really understand that had to happen to, Keith “One Time” Thurman for him to lose one time by one point, that’s a lot of BS I had to go through. Mentally, physically and emotionally and then I was still in the running. I was still in the fight. One judge said I won the fight. Arguably, I won the fight. I call it technically undefeated is the way I look at it. I call that a technical loss. You can do what you want with that. We got TKO’s, I call that a TL. That’s a TL, baby. A technical loss.

Have you gained a greater appreciation for the sport of boxing being that there was so much uncertainty surrounded its comeback following the virus?

Keith Thurman: Not really! It’s a little bit more than that for me. I have an appreciation that, I’m American. Because the Chinese didn’t have sports before Covid and they don’t have sports after Covid. Sports are not required to have a strong economy, but it’s one way to prove that you have a strong economy. But it’s not a necessity. So, I’m grateful to grow up in a country like America, that has allowed me to have a career. Let’s say that Covid was so intense, like a real Hollywood type pandemic movie, where the world will never be the same again. Kind of like, “The Matrix” where they said, this is what the world really looks like. This is why we all live in the Matrix because this is what the world really looks like. So, imagine if we were in a world in America where sports would never exist again. It made me reflect and made me grateful that I have already lived the life that I wanted to live in this life. Anything else that comes in this life, more boxing, more success… there are just further blessings upon the blessings that’s already been bestowed upon me. In this moment I’m very humbled and I take the cap of gratitude and I walk around with that.

Have you wrapped your mind around possibly fighting in a fan-less arena and does that affect you one way or another?

Keith Thurman: The crowd can be with you or against you. For me, it really depends on what matchup it is. It’s a complex things when you talking about the difference in having a crowd and not having a crowd. But at the end of the day, this is mano y mano. This is boxing. Tennis is mano y mano. Any one on one sport, once the action starts, it has to be taken seriously. Especially when this isn’t tennis and when I score on you, that means I hit you in your face. When I score a 3-pointer, that means I hit you with a 3-piece. If I got a touchdown, you just might have gotten knocked down. Boxing is a lil different from other sports, at least that’s the way I look at it.

Realistically, how does your 2020 end if you had it your way?

Keith Thurman: You know, 2020, it would be great to perform once this year. I really want to test out my hand. I really want to get back into the ring and kind of brush the dust off in preparation for 2021. I do believe that there are some great fights to be had in the welterweight division. I’m not sure what will manifest this year. I’m open to a lot of different possibilities. Right now, I’m actually expected a phone call here soon with an update to see if what I’ve asked for can come to fruition. I would love a November or December fight and then run into 2021 and really go after anybody that has a belt. In 2021, I wanna be champion again, so whoever will give me that opportunity in 2021, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna take it.

I appreciate the talk, hopefully we see you in the ring by the end of the year and good luck with your hand. Anything you want to say in closing?

Keith Thurman: Everybody stay safe and stay positive. We will get through this. Stay tuned. I love ya’ll.



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