Keith Thurman ‘Motivated By Haters’ Ahead Of Comeback Fight With Tim Tszyu

March 11, 2024
3 months
Keith Thurman

Keith Thurman has told his haters to “keep hating” as the former welterweight world champion prepares to make his return to the ring against Tim Tszyu.

Thurman (30-1-0 22 KO) will fight for the first time in almost 14 months when he takes on WBO super-welterweight world champion Tszyu in a catchweight bout on March 30 at T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The 35-year-old American’s last fight was in February 2022 – a unanimous points win over Mario Barrios – but before that, he hadn’t fought since July 2019 when he suffered his first defeat in a split decision to Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao.

It means his bout with Tszyu later this month will be just his third in almost four years, leading many critics – including his Australian opponent – to accuse Thurman of not taking his boxing career seriously.

There have also been regular doubts surrounding Thurman’s true caliber as a boxer; despite wins over the likes of Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, and once being a unified welterweight world champion, there are many within the sport who don’t regard ‘One Time’ as a truly elite level fighter.

Not that any of it matters to Thurman, who insisted in an interview with TMZ that all the doubts and criticism are what fuels him to perform.

Thurman ‘Living The Dream’

“My haters are my real motivators,” Thurman said. “So keep hating baby and I’m gonna keep pushing. If you’re not hated out here, you doing nothing positive in life.

“Everyone who does something positive in life is gonna have haters. I’m a dreamer, I’m living the dream and the haters can hate all they want.”

Much has changed in the welterweight division during Thurman’s spell of inactivity. Terence Crawford is now the king of 147lbs after becoming undisputed champion with his masterclass against Errol Spence Jr in July last year.

‘Bud’ has since vacated the IBF title but still holds the WBC, WBA, and WBO straps, while the division’s rankings have several new names in the mix since Thurman was last active. Thurman, meanwhile, is no longer in the coveted top 15 of the rankings in any of the four major bodies.

Despite the changing landscape at 147lbs, Thurman is convinced the boxing world has missed him during his absence in recent years.

“I believe boxing needs Keith Thurman,” he said. “I really deliver some of the greatest entertainment on that world-class scene every time they put me in the ring.”

Thurman ‘Confident’

The Florida native also took the opportunity to round on his critics, stating that none of them would have the courage to step inside a boxing ring.

“We put our blood, sweat, and tears into that ring,” he said. “We step into the fire where most people, they can sit here and they can type up and make all the comments — they wouldn’t last one minute in the ring. They wouldn’t last one minute. They’re not about that life!”

Thurman will start his fight against Tszyu as the heavy underdog, according to the latest odds. Part of that will be the 155lbs catchweight, part of it is due to his inactivity, and part is because unbeaten Tszyu is simply a strong opponent.

Stepping up to fight a bigger man would seem an even bigger challenge for a fighter who hasn’t secured a stoppage win in almost nine years, going back to his seventh-round TKO of Luis Collazo in July 2015.

Again, none of that is a cause of concern for the confident Thurman, who said: “The things that I do in the ring, the angles, the power punches … I know I haven’t got a knockout in a long time but there’s nobody who hasn’t really gotten shook by my punches in the ring.

“I make contact. I’m very good at making contact. No one’s just been in a fight and it’s like, he just handles Keith Thurman. We never seen myself be handled in that manner. That’s where my confidence comes from.”