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Keith Thurman: Fight with Errol Spence needs time to become bigger

Keith Thurman gives more thoughts on his return in 2018, with a focus on a potential showdown with Errol Spence Jr.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Keith Thurman, who holds the WBC and WBA welterweight titles, is preparing to get back into action in 2018 after missing most of 2017 following an elbow injury and successful surgery.

Thurman, who last fought in March when he beat Danny Garcia, is currently rumored to be facing Jessie Vargas in April. He recently spoke with Fight Hub’s Marcos Villegas, and gave some thoughts on other potential fights for next year.

On his return in 2018

“For me, this next year is gonna be me getting back in the ring. I’m not even sure who I’m gonna fight. I hope I feel great on the first comeback, and then we’re looking forward to getting back in the mix and going against some of the higher-ranked opponents in the welterweight division.”

On WBC mandatory challenger Shawn Porter

“Shawn Porter, I just have a feeling it’s gonna be mandated, because he’s holding on to that mandated position. The WBC, I just won it, but because of my injury, they’ve yet to mandate anything. As soon as I get active, they might possibly try to give me a deadline. But we’ll see. I haven’t come across that yet.”

On talk that he’s avoiding Errol Spence Jr

“He’s a tremendous fighter. He’s a champion, as well. He defeated a great champion. But the thing is, I just saw him in New York, right? When I first got back to America. He stepped up and said he’s ready to fight me whenever. Honestly, people can say what they want to say. I’m not going to fight him right now. I wouldn’t fight him right now. I’m not gonna fight Shawn Porter, I wouldn’t rematch Danny Garcia, I wouldn’t fight any of those guys right now. There’s no point. If I do have a mandatory around the corner, it just pushes things back.

“I know boxing! I know boxing. The fans can say whatever they want to say, but I just know how this sport works and how the business works. Plus, as much as I respect Errol Spence, he’s still a young, fresh champion. It’s not gonna hurt him by having a few title defenses, me getting back into the ring, doing what I want to do, before we see each other. If he’s that dude, he’s gonna keep his ‘0,’ I’m gonna keep my ‘0,’ we’re gonna see each other sooner than later, anyways. We’re gonna see each other eventually down the line.

“Once I have some title defenses, I’m gonna want to further unify and make some big moves. That’s natural for me. I’m always looking forward to getting more belts, more titles, more recognition at 147 and building my legacy. That’s pretty much why I don’t worry about what anyone is saying, because I’m gonna get her done. I’m gonna become undisputed if possible. That’s the whole goal.”

“Errol Spence has never fought a fighter like me. Nobody in the world has ever fought a fighter like me. I’m just unique and versatile in the ring. I believe I’ve shown it on several occasions. But I don’t mind keep showing it each and every time I step in the ring.”

On Thurman-Spence being bigger if it gets marinated

“Of course. How can it not be bigger? If his name is bigger, and my name is bigger, and then we negotiate a contract, it’s automatically bigger. There’s that, too. There is no Floyd Mayweather-Keith Thurman fight. There is no Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman fight. So if EJ’s gonna be my big fight, let it be the big fight.

“I know I’m not rushing into it. If I had a great year off of Danny Garcia, I could’ve competed against Shawn Porter this year, I could’ve knocked out some stuff. I still could’ve taken some random, lesser fight at the first part of this coming year, and then later on guaranteed you guys Errol Spence. But I wasn’t healthy for my career to go in that direction.

“Me and my team, we know what we want from our career. And another thing, too, is we can make these fights happen practically at any time. It’ll happen at a good time. It most likely will happen on my time. He says he’s ready, and I know I got some work to do. I’m coming off an injury.

“As a champion of the world, I wish I could just say, ‘F that, I’m fighting Errol Spence.’ But I know better than that, to come off of the bench. Even Danny Garcia, him and his father, they didn’t want to come off the bench ad fight me last year. They took a tune-up, where everybody is, like, ‘oh, this is a BS fight.’ But that’s one of the few times that he took that fight, and ahead of time announced, ‘After this fight, I’m gonna fight Keith Thurman.’

“That way people know why he’s picking this easy fight. He wanted to get off of the bench, and get in shape, and mentally prepare for a fighter such as myself. You gotta be smart. He still lost. But you gotta be smart out here, man. It’s part of the sport.”

On taking breaks between fights and coming off of injuries

“Since I’ve been fighting for a long time, you feel different when you get in the ring. I believe Errol Spence felt a little different when he fought, he made a comment when he just won the world title against Kell Brook, he said in those earlier rounds he wasn’t exactly awake enough, he wasn’t where he wanted to be. He had a pretty big gap from his fight prior to Kell Brook, there was a nice gap — coming off of gaps from training camp to another training camp, the space in between, if it’s a very long space, it can slightly hinder your performance. No matter how skillful you are, it can slightly hinder your performance.

“Coming off of the car accident [before] Shawn Porter, it wasn’t easy coming off of a whiplash, having an eight-week recovery of chiropractic therapy, then getting back in the ring, losing my weight, and then getting ready to perform. Even though I was able to pull the fight out, it wasn’t my easiest of performances, which is why I’d also be happy to give him a rematch, because I know as long as I’m not coming off of an injury again, I should be able to put on a better show.”

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