Former unified welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman discusses why he chose former super lightweight champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios for his return to the ring on February 5 in a $74.99 FOX Sports pay-per-view from Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
“Mario Barrios had the best record out of the small handful of fighters presented to me,” explained Thurman. “He had an exciting performance against ‘Tank’ Davis, and it just seemed like it’d be a great challenge for both of us. We’re two fighters who are exciting in the world of boxing, talented and coming off their first career losses. It might not sound exciting at first, but if you understand what it is to have a competitive mindset, you know both of us will demand greatness out of ourselves.
“Some fighters, after their losses, rise up and demand more – focus harder, train harder, fix some technical skills that were lacking – offense or defense, strength issues. We saw it with Canelo Alvarez after he lost to Floyd Money Mayweather. Not because he was Canelo, but that loss made him rise and show that he was more than a puncher, because he has more than he showed prior to his loss.
“I’m not less-than after my loss; I’ll show greater skills to the fans in fighting Mario Barrios than I did against Manny Pacquaio.”
Thurman hasn’t fought since losing to Manny Pacquiao in 2019. Why the long delay?
“I wanted to get back into the ring in 2020, but I was in a pickle,” said Thurman. “I was offered a get-back fight in-studio with no fans. Coming off the Pacquiao fight, it just didn’t excite me to come back without fans. I love my fans. I love the sport of boxing. I could have done it for the activity, and perhaps, in retrospect, it would have been good to be in the ring. But while the activity would have been good, the excitement wasn’t appealing. I was financially stable, didn’t need the money, and desired to make meaningful performances and meaningful fights in the welterweight division.
“2022 has presented more opportunities to me and my career; at 33, I’m young, willing, and able, and it’s time to get back…I have the skills to once again rise to the top and reclaim my number one spot in the welterweight division. It’s my time to rise. One time, it’s go time.”