LOS ANGELES – Keith Thurman consistently used Errol Spence as a potential stiff-armed opponent when Thurman was world champion and the Texan was also trying to break through.
Spence eventually realized his championship aspirations in 2017 with an overseas win over Kell Brook for the IBF title he still holds.
Thurman, 31, (29-1, 22 KOs) has only fought Pacquiao twice in the past four years in 2019.
Now, apparently, it’s Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) in charge of the driver’s seat as he prepares for his fourth straight pay-per-view appearance against Pacquiao on Aug. 21.
Spence recently said, “Man, I don’t want anything to do with Keith Thurman. The ship sailed. The ship is gone. I don’t want anything to do with this man. He messes with me. He’s still a good fighter. He could still fight. I have no real interest in it … He can fight [Yordenis] Ugas. He won’t argue with me … That’s just how he is. He’s just a ball of corn to me. I just can’t stand him. “
Thurman offered BoxingScene.com his rebuttal on a possible fight with Spence despite the rejection.
“The weather is changing. Sometimes it’s sunny, sometimes it’s rainy and cloudy, ”said Thurman. “People are very emotional. I think there will be a time and place and I think that time and place will come soon [for us to fight]. If he keeps denying that this match-up is one of the best match-ups boxing can have here and now – young, athletic, in its best fighters – I want the fight. That should be my fight. I wanted to beat Manny Pacquiao and then fight Errol Spence. Because of my loss, this is the matchup that has manifested. Because I dropped the ball [in the Pacquiao loss], he doesn’t have to see me today. Does he never ever have to see me? We will see.”
When asked if Spence Thurman returned the favor of being treated as he was when he wanted the fight years ago, Thurman said it was “whack” to believe this tale.
“You would have got paid for pebbles, and now you will get a big gold box. The value of Keith Thurman, the value of Errol Spence, and the worldwide recognition of Keith Thurman and Errol Spence are greater than ever. So the fight would be bigger today than it would have been yesterday. [Don’t] resent me for being in a politically powerful position and not taking this step. Keith Thurman is not a climber who doesn’t have a lot of value. So there is no point in devaluing who I am at this moment.
“When I devalued [Spence], [his] Value has been devalued, and I’m honest. [Errol is] ‘The truth,’ [who] made it this far and we’re all proud of you and we’re all big fans … I’ve seen so many of your fights. You are a talented young man. Do you see me. Do you see me. It will happen.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, author and radio reporter. He is also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He is on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk. accessible[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or at www.ManoukAkopyan.com