I was able to speak with Keith Thurman 1 on 1 about his upcoming fight with Manny Pacquiao. He is scheduled to face Pacquiao on Saturday, July 20 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, LIVE on FOX PPV. The broadcast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Conversation transcript below:
Keith! This is Pete Moss from Boxingham205. How are you doing my brother?
KT: What's good man?
BH: How are you feeling mentally, spiritually, emotionally?
KT: This is the biggest fight of my career. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back in the ring. This whole year has been really exciting for me, because of the 2 years of inactivity. I was definitely the opposite of excited. So I'm looking forward to facing Manny Pacquiao. I wanted to be in the ring with him for the past 6 years and now's my opportunity, so July 20th I'm gonna remind the world why Keith "One Time" Thurman is one of the most devastating welterweights in the world of boxing.
BH: No doubt. What do you take away from your last fight against Josesito Lopez?
KT: I mean, it was a comeback fight, you know? I was brushing off a lot of dust. The training camp was nothing in comparison to my preparation for this fight. I say, when you watch a fighter perform, you watch the end result of that training camp. And I believe I'm gonna have a better performance, and I look forward to continuously staying an active fighter so that I can keep this momentum going and just be a world class athlete once again.
BH: Tyson Fury talked about reaching the "Everest" in the sport of boxing when he won the titles and having nothing to challenge himself with. Can you relate to that in any way? Do you have the same hunger and motivation that you did from years ago?
KT: People can latch on to things to motivate themselves. A lot of times it's physical things. It could be money, a world title, a new world title, all the world titles. But at the end of the day you just gotta want to be your best self in this life. As you demand the best of yourself, let the chips fall where they may. Because you can always hold your head up high knowing that you've presented to the world the best version of yourself at all times.
BH: Is it safe to say you're self motivated from within?
KT: I just demand greatness. And to be great, it takes great effort. Those who've been following my IG (Instagram) know that I've been applying myself in this training camp, and I believe, like I said, that the boxing match is the end result of preparation blended with skills and talent.
Pacquiao is 40 years old. What does he bring to a fight at 40 years old?
KT: Manny Pacquiao is Manny Pacquiao. He's fighting for my world title, but at the end of the day I think people are more focused on the fact that it's Manny Pacquiao fighting and they just wanna see another Pacquiao fight. He's a legend. He brings his legacy everywhere he goes.
BH: What are the strengths and weaknesses that Pacquiao brings to a fight?
KT: He has tons of experience. He always comes in shape. He fights in spurts and combinations. Those are his strengths.
His weaknesses are that he's not the most technical boxer. He's been hit by everybody in the world. Real talk. He's been hit by everybody. He's vulnerable because his defense is based off of movement. It's not based off of keeping your hands up. When he throws his punches he brings his hands back down. He's not, as Ben Getty taught me from the age of 7 years old, from the chin back to the chin. He's just not the most technical boxer.
Me being a 7-time national champion as an amateur, going out to the Olympic games, falling short in the Olympic trials, I've seen it all. I was training with Winky Wright, Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy, I was their sparring partner by the time I was 15,16 years old and a whole bunch of other world champions. I've seen technique. I've seen fighters. I've seen brawlers. Manny Pacquiao's always been a world-class fighter, not a world-class boxer.
BH: When you visualize this fight, how does it play out to you?
KT: When I visualize the fight I see myself walking him down, pressing him, making him go backwards. I don't think he fights well on his back foot. I think he did a terrible job against Jeff Horn. So I don't see how I can do any worse than Jeff Horn. Just walk forward and keep your hands up. Bully the man and make him fight. Make him earn my respect. He's not gonna get it just because he's Manny Pacquiao. He's gonna have to earn it in the ring.
BH: During camp you've talked about being stronger and finishing Pacquiao. How serious are you when you say you want to destroy him and retire him? How much of that is fight talk and how much of that is what you really want to do to him on fight night?
KT: It's real talk! I truly don't believe that Manny Pacquiao belongs at the top of the welterweight division anymore. I truly believe that we're in a new generation. I believe Floyd Mayweather stepped down with a legacy and I think it's Pacquiao's time to step down with his legacy. A loss to Keith Thurman does not take away the legacy he created for himself. He's a legend. He's a legend today. He's a legend tomorrow. He's a motivating, inspiring athlete, and now senator from the Philippines. His life story is tremendous. He can help lift anybody's heart and spirit. The whole reason I said he needs to retire is because he has another job! He already has another job set up! And then what people forget about Keith Thurman is I've already retired 2 ex-world champions in the past!
Carlos Quintana, never fought again after fighting Keith Thurman. Julio Diaz, never fought again after fighting Keith Thurman. Why is Manny Pacquiao any different? Danny Garcia's father was debating retirement after fighting Keith Thurman and I didn't even stop him! This is what it is man. For me, it's a true statement. Regardless of if the man fights again, he's a legend. I just think he can walk away and be a full time senator and help his country and be prideful for what he accomplished in the sport.
BH: What did you think about his fight against Broner?
KT: I think Broner had a hard time landing shots and he was very defensive. Pacquiao was very cautious and very patient. I think he knew that Broner was trying to land those quick single left hooks and single right hand counters. He was very patient and then he started to let his hands go around the 7th, 8th, 9th. In the later rounds Pacquiao really closed the show. He provided all the action in the fight. It was a good performance from him, especially at 40 years old. It was a week before my fight; watching Manny Pacquiao win inspired me. I left my boy's house where I watched the fight at and I went running 3 miles at 1 a.m. in the morning a week before my fight when I saw him win! He inspired me! He's an inspiring individual but I just don't believe he has what it takes to beat the younger guys today.
BH: What's a fight that you're disappointed didn't get made over the years?
KT: Definitely Floyd Mayweather. When I was the WBA regular champion, when they gave Floyd Mayweather the WBA "Super Title," that was the day I became very disappointed. I was on a conference call and they said "Keith, how does it feel to be the regular WBA Champion of the world?" And I said, "I don't know. What are you talking about?" They said well you're now the regular champion. Floyd is the super champion. I said "what the hell is a super champion?" I know what Super Man is! But what's a super champion? We've got champions in the past that had all sorts of titles and became the undisputed champion and all. I've never heard of the title of Super Champion! What's a super champion? I had to get on Google to find out the term! And then the first paragraph I saw on the WBA web page stated that a super champion is not obligated to fight a mandatory! Who was Floyd's mandatory before he got elevated to super champion? Keith "One Time" Thurman!
BH: How does a fight between you and Floyd play out?
KT: The one thing I pride myself on is, I really think that my fights are entertaining. I just think they're good for the fans, good for the sport, and I just believe it could have been an even better fight, maybe not in numbers, especially at the time, but I think the performance would have been better than the Canelo vs. Floyd event. There would have been more action. I don't think he would have boxed circles around me that easily because I'm not a simple flat footed fighter.
BH: Last question: What advice would you give an aspiring boxing journalist on his way up in the game? And that aspiring boxing journalist is me.
KT: Just respect the game. Understand that win, lose, or draw these fighters are putting themselves out there. We are your entertainment. If I knock somebody out, if I get knocked out, if i'm bleeding all over my face, if i'm crying in the ring. No matter what happens, we are your entertainment. So just always show love and respect to the game.