Tim Tszyu Title Fight Is Not the Right Move for Keith Thurman, Here’s Why

Published 01/25/2024, 11:44 AM EST

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Boxing skills, like anything in life, demand continuity! Or else, the easiest of the adversaries may seem like moving a mountain. Something similar is about to happen to Keith Thurman. In an update of late, a fight between ‘One Time’ Thurman and Tim Tszyu on March 8 at MGM Grand Garden Arena came to light! The update comes after Erickson Lubin allegedly withdrew from the fight against the Australian. 

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Thurman hasn’t fought since February 2022 against Mario Barrios, a fight the Florida native won via unanimous decision. Yet, the fight that marked the 35-year-old’s fall from grace was the one before that. Facing the legendary Manny Pacquiao, Thurman saw his unbeaten record tarnished by a split-decision loss. Nevertheless, the recent fight announcement suggests he is ready to make a comeback! However, is he really ready? Is taking on an undefeated rising star as the first fight after 25 months of inactivity the right move? Absolutely not – Here’s why!

Keith Thurman may become a victim of ring rust

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The history of boxing has seen many names become anonymous after suffering their first defeat. But that doesn’t mean Thurman will have the same fate, even though his absence from the sport suggested the same. While he has decided to come back, what’s the guarantee that he has the same ferocity as before? It’s one thing to spar or fight in the local gym and something else entirely when it comes to fighting on the world stage.

Spending so long outside the ring must have had its toll on Thurman’s confidence and skills. Even if he was training the entire time, there will always be differences in the skill levels between his sparring partners and someone like Tszyu. Take Muhammad Ali, for instance – similar to Thurman, Ali was 38 back in 1978 when he took a two-year break after defeating Leon Spinks in their rematch. When he returned to the ring in 1980 against Larry Holmes, the whole world knows what happened in that fight. 

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Or take Ricky Hatton, for example – after suffering his second career defeat at the hands of Pacquiao, much like Thurman, Hatton didn’t enter the ring for three years. But when he returned in 2012 against Vyacheslav Senchenko – he was knocked out. While it doesn’t necessarily mean – Thurman awaits the same fate as Ali and Hatton, it’s not entirely out of the question either. So, what’s the solution? What should have Thurman done instead of fighting Tszyu?

A tune-up before Tim Tszyu could have done wonders

Larry Holmes had the right idea! Even George Foreman had the right idea! The one thing common between these two boxers is their sensational return to the sport. However, what often gets overlooked is how they made their comeback. Foreman had initially retired in 1977 after an unexpected defeat at the hands of Jimmy Young, disappointed for being unable to avenge his loss against Ali.

When he returned to boxing in 1987, however, he didn’t fight the biggest name around. Rather, he took on an opponent he knew he could handle, producing a 24-fight win streak before giving Evander Holyfield a run for his money. The same goes for Holmes! So, the best route for Thurman would have been to take on some easier opponents for tune-up fights. That way, he would have gotten his confidence back, and a fight against Tszyu would have made sense.

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Since Keith Thurman chose to fight not just an active fighter but also a multiple title holder like Tszyu, who has never known defeat, his task becomes nearly impossible. In addition, it’s going to be a title fight with Tszyu’s WBO Super Welterweight title on the line, so it’s a given that Tszyu wouldn’t slack off and risk losing his key to big-money fights. Tszyu will have the public’s favor, he will have an age advantage, and he will have a reach advantage. Plus, he is coming off a fantastic win! 

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There is barely any upside for Thurman – besides the fact that he has nothing to lose. In the rare case that he does manage to pull off a win, it will go down in boxing history as one of the biggest comebacks. Moreover, Thurman’s decision to face Tszyu was misguided, forming the basis of my perspective on the matter. Do you think Thurman stands a chance of winning? 

Watch This Story: Five Fascinating Facts About Keith Thurman

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Written by:

Sudeep Sinha

801Articles

One take at a time

The first time boxing captured my attention, it was because of a line I heard in the film 'Rocky Balboa', a film surrounding boxing. The line went like this, "But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
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Edited by:

Snigdhaa Jaiswal

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