Keith Thurman has found tranquility a week before the biggest fight of his career when he faces Danny Garcia in a welterweight unification bout on prime-time network TV.
Boxers tend to get grumpy when forced to make the media rounds deep into training camp. The mild-mannered Thurman is a different animal.
“I’m to the point where I found my inner chi,” Thurman said Thursday in a phone interview. “No one can take that away from me. I’ve been boxing since I was 7. I’ve faced the best boxers on the planet before. I’ve been in fights where 4.2 million viewers watched.”
Thurman, who holds the WBA welterweight title, was referring to his 2016 Fight of the Year contender against Shawn Porter, which did high TV ratings for the first boxing match on CBS in three decades.
The narrow victory over Porter helped Thurman raise his profile and brought him back to CBS for the March 4 fight against Garcia at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Garcia (33-0, 19 knockouts) holds the WBC title.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) February 22, 2017
The 27-year-old Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) won’t allow himself to be rattled, but that doesn’t mean no one has tried.
Garcia’s father and trainer, Angel, shouted racial and homophobic slurs aimed at Thurman in a heated news conference last month. Thurman remained calm and didn’t shout obscenities back at the erratic Garcia.
“He never talked about me,” Thurman said. “Whatever he said, that’s not me. He wasn’t talking the truth. He was speaking maybe about his personal feelings, but it’s just a whole bunch of ignorance.”
Thurman has said Angel Garcia shouldn’t be allowed to speak at news conferences. Garcia has had numerous vile outbursts before.
“Boxing doesn’t have time for that clown act,” Thurman said. “I paid no mind to it. It’s just another father trying to fight for his son. The father won’t be there in the ring. It’s all up to the son.”
Thurman said the winner should be crowned the new king of the 147-pound division even with Manny Pacquiao back in the picture. Pacquiao could defend his WBO title against Amir Khan in the spring.
“The only legend left is Manny Pacquiao, but he doesn’t seem too eager to fight the top contending welterweights,” Thurman said. “So I feel the winner of March 4 deserves the majority of the spotlight at 147 pounds. It’s two skilled undefeated boxers going at it.”
WILDER RETURNS TO THE RING
Star heavyweight Deontay Wilder returns to the ring Saturday after a seven-month layoff because of surgeries to his right hand and right bicep.
Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) will defend his WBC belt against Gerald Washington (18-0-1, 12 KOs) at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. The card will be aired at 5 p.m. on Fox.
— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) February 24, 2017
“Washington might be my most athletic opponent,” Wilder said of the former Southern California defensive end. “That should make it interesting and even better than my previous opponent.”
In the co-main event, Jarrett Hurd meets Tony Harrison for the vacant IBF junior middleweight championship. Jermall Charlo recently vacated the belt to move up to middleweight.
Izuagbe Ugonoh, who trains in Las Vegas, opens the televised card against Dominic Breazeale in a heavyweight bout. Ugonoh was born in Poland and is a former kickboxer.
“I believe that this is my year,” Ugonoh said. “I have a path to the world championship right in front of me, and it starts with Dominic Breazeale on Saturday night.”
Contact Gilbert Manzano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0492. Follow @gmanzano24 on Twitter.
March 4, 5: Golden Gloves West Regionals, 3 p.m., Santa Fe Station
March 9: Battle Born, 7 p.m., Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
March 11: Knockout Night at the D, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network, Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
March 25: March Madness & Mayhem, 4 p.m., Richard Steele’s Gym
April 1: Antonio Orozco vs. KeAndre Gibson, 8 p.m., ESPN 2, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
May 6: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., 6 p.m., HBO PPV, T-Mobile Arena