Posted on 01/25/2024
By: Sean Crose
Word comes courtesy of Mike Coppinger at ESPN that onetime world titlist, sometime boxer, and fulltime enigma Keith Thurman will be returning to the ring in March to face Tim Tszyu for Tzyu’s WBO junior middleweight belt. The fight, should the report turn out to be true, will be the first Pay Per Event for Premier Boxing Champions since it cut a deal with Amazon Prime as a result of Showtime getting out of the boxing business. Thurman’s last fight was almost a year ago. His second to last fight was in 2019. Indeed, the popular Floridian has fought a total of nine times in the past decade.
Popularity goes a long way, however, and so the 30-1 Thurman is stepping straight into a title fight after a long absence. With that being said, there’s no doubt Thurman has proven himself to be a top level fighter throughout his career. Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero have all fallen victim to the man known as “One Time.” Whether the combination of low activity and age (he’s now 35) will work against Thurman remains to be seen. With that being said, the man will need to defeat Tszyu if he wants to remain a high profile attraction in the sport.
Sure enough, Tszyu, the son of the lauded Kostya Tszyo, was long expected to face Jermell Charlo in what would have been a junior middleweight megafight. Charlo went on to face Canelo Alvarez, however, leaving the Australian to hope for another big name opponent. Tszyu certainly has one in Thurman who, if he’s still largely the fighter he once was, is extremely skilled, and difficult to defeat. Indeed, the only man to best Thurman was the great Manny Pacquiao, and while Pacquiao was admittedly past his prime when they fought, his performance that night in 2019 is regarded as a final great act in a career loaded with them. That was almost five years ago, however. And Thurman has only fought once since.
Still, boxing remains a sport where pretty much anything can happen. No one, for instance, expected Tyson Fury to go life and death with a UFC star making his boxing debut, but that’s exactly what happened late last year in Saudi Arabia. So yes, Thurman can very possibly defeat Tszyu in March. It won’t be easy, though, and Tszyu should rightfully enter the ring that night the favorite. Boasting a record of 24-0, Tszyu, at 29, is roughly six years younger than Thurman. He’s also been a lot more active. While Thurman has fought nine times in the past ten years, Tszyu has fought twenty-four times in the past seven.