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February 14, 2018

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: KEITH "ONE TIME" THURMAN PART II
By G. Leon

GL: Who would you say is your favorite fighter of all time? Who are some of the fighters you admired growing up?

KT: "My favorite of all time, my first favorite was Mike Tyson when I was a kid, but when I got more affiliated with the sport I really fell in love with Aaron Pryor, Hawk Time. He's my guy. They say Sugar Ray Leonard never wanted to make a fight with him. Some people say there's other reasons and maybe Sugar Ray knew he was on some shit, but at the end of the day they never fought and they say Ray wouldn't get in the ring with him, but he was just a deadly dude."

GL: What do you consider your toughest fight to date?

KT: "The Shawn Porter fight. 7 out of 12 rounds on all judges scorecards. The interesting thing is, when I was competing with him in the fight the first four rounds went exactly how I wanted them to. It was the second four rounds that didn't go the way I wanted them to. In my opinion going into the ninth round, I remember telling myself this fight is probably a draw. It's hard not to say that it's four on each side and ironically enough after the fight happened and we saw the judges cards, and all three judges had it a draw going into the ninth, they just all got there in a different way. I knew it was a highly competitive fight and it was a close fight. I told myself going into that ninth round that it's a four round fight now and there's no way this boy is going to beat me. I'll force a draw before I let this boy beat me. All of that hard work I put in, I didn't put it in to walk away with a draw. I buckled down, boxed smart, got the W and went home, but it was highly competitive. He was pushing me and I could tell he was trying to break me, but he learned something about me. I'm tougher than he thought, I'm tougher than his daddy thought."

GL: Was it the sheer physicality of Porter that made him more difficult than Garcia?

KT: "No, I chose to box the way I chose to box that night. If you watch round one of that fight if I copied and pasted that in every round it would have been an easy night with Shawn Porter. I chose to fight the way I chose to fight and going into the ninth round I was in a predicament that I knew I had to buckle down to win the fight. Another thing is Shawn Porter is way more active than Danny Garcia. In preparation for the Danny Garcia fight, I knew it wasn't Shawn Porter. He throws a couple of punches at a time. What's he got a looping right hand and a looping left hook? He's not going to throw 100 punches per round. Danny Garcia is an easier fighter to outwork. With Shawn Porter you have to outclass him. Danny Garcia, I wanted to outwork him and outclass. With Shawn Porter it simply harder to outwork him because of his output. He's not very accurate, but he's prepared to work. Garcia is a counter puncher and likes to time people because he's got a bit more accuracy. We all know styles make fights and I just knew that Danny's style was easier to manage."

GL: I think you're a fantastic fighter and one of the best in boxing, but there's no such thing as a perfect fighter. What part of your game do you feel needs to the most sharpening?

KT: "I don't know man, it's hard to fix something that's not broken. There's no such thing as a perfect fighter and that's why I try to make myself as well rounded as can be. I would like to have a little more offense. I know pulled back on the gas in the Garcia fight and I didn't have to do that. I'm a very interesting person when it comes to what I do in the ring. When I'm in that ring I'm going to control the way I fight, which is hopefully going to control how the match is going to play out because I want control over the match in general, but I'm going to use style to do that. Every fighter is ego based, we have this fighter ego in us and some fighters express it more than others, but there was a moment where I knew I was winning on the scorecards, at least I felt that I was, and it made me want to do a little bit less and put him in a position to do a little more. 

"Every time I gave him an opportunity to do a little bit more he wasn't doing it, so if you really don't want to do more while I'm doing less, it's almost like you're telling me you don't want to win tonight or you're very content with that counter punch strategy you're doing. If you're waiting to counter punch that means you need me to punch, which means if I don't punch you don't punch. A lot of people really don't understand how much I understand the game and where my head's at during a boxing match. I'm like a rubix cube in the ring and figure me out if you can, but most people can't and will continue to be unable to figure me out until they acknowledge that I am that rubix cube. Maybe then they'll be able to figure me out."

GL: Has Keith Thurman hit his prime yet?

KT: "I'm in my prime and I think it's a beautiful time for me to be in my prime because there's some great fights to be made in addition to the guys I've already defeated. We'll see what happens. I'm 28-0 (22KO) and the legacy is going to continue."

GL: What did you think of Spence-Peterson? Were you surprised Lamont chose to bang with him?

KT: "Yeah, I was surprised he didn't diversify during the match. He just walked straight to him and put his guard and engaged. There wasn't too much head movement and he didn't try to use the ring until he got dropped and was in survival mode. Once he got past that he went right back to the same style that had him on the ground in the first place. We knew Peterson was going tbe the smaller guy and you could see that in the ring, but Lamont didnt have much to offer with that game plan at all. I think of Lamont as more of an athlete and I think there's some other things he could have done instead of just walk forward."

GL: Considering that you've already shown willingness to fight the best and coming off back to back wins over Porer and Garcia are you insulted by some of the insinuations out there about will Thurman fight Spence? Your track record doesn't show a tendency to avoid challenges so does that kind of shit bother you?

KT: "Yeah it does, but then I just remind myself of how ignorant is is. Then I remind myself about the Mayweather quote, 'most people don't know shit about boxing.' We don't do this for fun, we do this to make money and because this is our dream. Boxing is a gladiator sport and we want to be legends and get into the hall of fame, leave a mark and inspiring other people to become a champion like you. There were people who inspired me and there's people I'm inspiring today. I'm just happy to be a part of boxing history, which is my favorite sport and I think it should be one of the most respected sports when it comes to what an athlete is doing. It's blood, sweat and tears and a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication. We've seen fighters quit, but they quit in the fight and they don't quit in the fight and they're only quitting because the warrior in them knows that they're outmatched today. Do you really think it's easy for a warrior to bow down?

GL: Not at all brother, that's why most times the warrior has to be saved by the referee, corner or doctor.

KT: "That's exactly right. I've been doing this for 22 years so there's nothing new to me. Knocking people out is not new to me, getting decisions is not new to me, getting split decisions is not new to me. If I was to lose and it's not new to me. My motto is I got an O and I'm not afraid to let it go. If you could beat me, beat me. I'm ok with that. When I perform I put my best foot forward and Keith "One-Time" Thurman is a bad man in the ring and it's going to take another bad man to beat me. I respect everybody I've ever been in the ring with because boxing is one hell of a sport, but I've practically mastered the sport and I feel like I'm the teacher now. I give a lot of advice to the youth and things of that nature. I remember walking into the gym and we had Winky Wright, Chad Dawson, Jeff Lacy and Antwun Echols. I was seeing the people doing it in the position I wanted to be in, but now I'm that dude and when the youth comes in, I'm the champion of the gym. It's just a blessing man, you've got to count your blessings man. Boxing has been really good to me, I love the sport and I'm going to love the sport for the rest of my life."

GL: Who do you like in Crawford-Horn? What do you think about Crawford as a welter?

KT: "Terence Crawford as a welter is Terence Crawford, period. He's a great fighter and I don't think Jeff Horn is going to be his biggest welterweight challenge. Jeff Horn, I don't believe a word that comes out of your mouth as far as him being able to compete with any of us at the top just because he beat Manny Pacquiao, who is not young."

GL: And that win was questionable.

KT: "It was but Horn put on a good performance and it was a good fight and he was in the fight. I don't think he's got the skills to hold on to that title for long. Pretty soon all four of the welterweight titles will be back in America."

GL: If you had your choice of Crawford and Spence, who do you prefer to fight?

KT: "Right now I'm only looking at May 19th. I don't worry about that because I don't worry about what's going to happen tomorrow. I've got this whole year in front of me. Crawford is just walking into the welterweight division. Spence keeps claiming he's ready for everybody and anybody and we do believe that's the truth. I'm interested in seeing how Crawford performs at 147. Jeff Horn does have size as a welterweight, he was a lot bigger than Pacquiao and he'll probably be bigger than Crawford too, but the thing with Crawford is, he's also got a good size and a good reach. His transition to 147 shouldn't be that difficult, just hold the mass and try to be light on his feet."

GL: You've been at 147 forever, how long do you think you're going to be able to hold that?

KT: "Dude I know man. As long it takes, this is where I want my legacy to be...

GL: (cutting in) You don't see being a two division champ as part of your legacy?

KT: "Undisputed welterweight champion of the world is the legacy. If I really wanted to be a two division champion I would have worked really hard to make 140 when I was younger, I've always had my eyes set on 147 even when I was a kid. When it comes to Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, all of the great fights that happened at welterweight, Oscar De La Hoya, Tito (Trinidad), welterweight is where I always wanted to be."

GL: Who's the best fighter in the world right now?

KT: "You mean pound for pound?"

GL: Yep.

KT: "I hate pound for pound because it's the most opinionated system in the world."

GL: Let's take that fighter ego out of the equation and say you've got yourself at #1, which you should. Who's next?

KT: "Whenever I look at the pound for pound I like to take my own real opinion out of it and think about what the world thinks as a whole. It's hard man, but I like to tell people that my two favorite fighters out there right now are Deontay Wilder and Lomachenko."

GL: How has the married life changed you?

KT: "You know it's still within the first year so it hasn't changed me a lot. Now I'm just a married man so I act like one everywhere I go. I signed off on the paperwork and hit the married button."

GL: Would that have happened without the layoff?

KT: "It could have and would have, but not in the same exact fashion that it ended up happening. It's just that time in life, I'm growing, I'm 29 years old and I found an amazing woman. I feel like she's my best friend and at the end of the day it's great to have somebody there to talk to that you know is always going to support you."

GL: When can we expect the next generation of Thurman's?

KT: "Coming soon to a theater near you, not this summer, possibly next summer type of movie."

GL: What's your second favorite sport?

KT: "That's a good one. As a spectator one of my favorite sports to spectate is tennis because it's one on one, they're conditioning is out of control."

GL: What about sports you've played?

KT: "Well I played a little bit of tennis too believe it or not, I've played every sport, but now I'm trying to get into golf. My boys are getting me into golf now."

GL: Don't get out there with Winky then, he'll be making all kinds of bets out there on you.

KT: "This is only my first year so they ain't getting my money.

GL: Who's your favorite sports team?

KT: "I've never been big on teams, I'm always more interested in players that stand out to me."

GL: What's your favorite flick?

KT: "Things like the Matrix, V for Vendetta, Denzel Washington movies like John Q, Man on Fire, Fight Club. If you don't love Fight Club I don't know what's wrong with you."

GL: What do you listen to in the car?

KT: "J-Cole, Kendrick Lamar, I like hip-hop and the funny thing is I try not to listen to too much mustic. I got a love for hip hop and Bob Marley and I used be big on Jimmy Hendrix when I was playing more guitar. Music gets in the way, it's like a distraction. I'm trying to get back to practicing meditation and noticed that if I'm listening to music while I drive and then I try to meditate later on that day all I hear is the radio in my head because all of the sound got downloaded into my subconscious. The practice of meditation made me listen to less music, or at least stop listening to music in an unconscious way because you're focused on driving, but you're playing music or you're in the boxing gym and you're playing music. When I'm in the gym and it's just me and not a lot of other fighters I'll be in the gym with no music. I like to feel the pain and I like to feel the struggle. They say that playing music while working out can make people work out harder and for even longer, but that means like you're almost using a supplement to get through your pain. I want to feel my body telling me it wants to quit right now and tell it no you're not quitting instead of riding to the beat and keeping a certain tempo because you're in a trance to the music."

GL: Ain't no DJ during the fight.

KT: "Exactly and that's what I be telling these young fighers. When you sit down during that break you got to sit down with your own self, make your adjustments and go back out and fight again."

GL: Closing thoight for the fans.

KT: "One love to everybody out there that's supported me through my marriage and my surgery. I've got tons of fans who keep telling me they can't wait to see me back. I've got people telling me to take my time because the welterweight division is mine, I just appreciate all of the love and support I've been getting. Stay tuned for May 19th, your boy is is going to be back in the ring soon!"
 

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