Keith Thurman defended his WBA welterweight title in his home city of Tampa, Florida, last night, retiring Brooklyn’s Luis Collazo on cuts after the seventh round. It was a competitive fight in which Collazo managed to stun Thurman with a beautiful left hook in the fifth, and it did little to convince that ‘One-Time’s’ superstardom is an inevitability. He showed his skills but didn’t thoroughly outclass Collazo, and calls for Thurman to get Floyd Mayweather next are unfounded.
On last night’s broadcast, Teddy Atlas called Thurman “the best athlete in boxing”. This is a large and unprovable claim whose consideration depends on one’s definition of athleticism, but it seemed like an odd statement to make. Thurman (26-0) is clearly a fine athlete. Strong, well-balanced, coordinated, and possessing decent hand speed, he is no slouch. But he doesn’t have the spectacular physical skills of a Gary Russell, or even, dare I say, a young Zab Judah. “One-Time” looks very solid but he’s no athletic outlier at the pro level. Rather, Thurman is an amalgamation of well-rounded skills that cuts an impressive figure when taken together.
This is worth mentioning because Thurman didn’t look levels above Collazo (36-7) yesterday. The Brooklynite is an experienced and durable professional who knows how to stick around. The difference between them was crystallized whenever Thurman put his punches together, mixing uppercuts and hooks with well-placed body blows, as Collazo couldn’t manage such a varied attack. But even Thurman’s best combinations didn’t overwhelm Collazo, who became progressively marked but never edged toward the precipice of a knockout. Thurman can punch, but it will require more than “one time” for a tough opponent to feel it.
The fight concluded strangely, when between the seventh and eighth Collazo complained of his vision being obstructed by a bad cut, which prompted his corner to stop it. In his post-fight interview Collazo didn’t seem particularly fazed by the outcome, and was measured in his praise of Thurman, calling him, “great”, but then backtracking and saying that “he’s got a ways to go.” Collazo’s resignation to defeat and placid demeanour reinforced the secondary role he played in this fight, which was staged solely to move Thurman upwards.
In his interview, Thurman was asked about Floyd Mayweather and naturally called him out, plagiarizing Floyd by referring to himself as a “young, strong champion”. Like all of the other welterweights jostling for their shot, Thurman is not on Floyd’s level, and needs more seasoning if he’s to mount a legitimate challenge. Unfortunately, Thurman’s development has been retarded by the frustratingly slow pace at which his career has progressed.
After first paying homage to God, Thurman thanked Al Haymon after the win. If Thurman were not managed by Haymon but someone actually vested in ‘One-Time’s’ development as a fighter, he’d likely be further along. Perhaps he’d even be ready to challenge Mayweather. But this isn’t true right now. Floyd would pick Thurman apart because ‘One-Time’ is easy to hit, and unlike Marcos Maidana, he doesn’t fight with the physical belligerence that bothers Mayweather. Thurman needs more development time to pose a threat. Unfortunately, time is conspiring against him, because Floyd’s reign is coming to an end.
Ironic, isn’t it, that Al Haymon, the man working to make Keith Thurman rich, has prevented him from building a credible case to make the richest fight of all?
— Eliott McCormick