By Allan Fox: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is already hard at work preparing for his comeback fight against Mario Barrios on February 5th on FOX PPV.
Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) has been out of the ring so long that he looks like he’s slowed down, Hopefully, the 33-year-old looks faster inside the ring than he does working out because his comeback against the much younger 26-year-old Barrios might be a disaster.
Thurman may ultimately regret choosing Barrios because this guy is going to light him up something awful if he’s not firing on all eight cylinders on February 5th.
Barrios lost his last fight against Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis by an 11th round knockout in an exciting battle last June.
Compared to many of the fighters Tank has faced, Barrios gave him a lot of problems with his size, power, and toughness.
Things were so bad for Tank that his promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr. had to intervene by climbing up to the ring and giving his fighter an inspirational pep talk to get him back into the fight.
Keith needs a strong performance
Thurman needs a victory and a strong showing to put himself in a position to challenge WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford in the summer.
Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) is now a promotional free agent, so he can fight on FOX, but Thurman has got to win his fight against former WBA ‘regular’ light welterweight champion Barrios first.
Thurman’s inactivity has ground his career to a half in 2019, but he was already having activity issues due to injuries as far back as 2016. This latest 2 1/2 year layoff isn’t something unusual for Thurman’s career.
The latest time off for Thurman came at a bad time, as he’d already been out of the ring from 2017 to 2019.
Thurman came back long enough to squeeze in two fights in 2019 before disappointing for two years, and that wasn’t all caused by injury problems.
Does Thurman have anything left?
‘One Time’ has obviously been enjoying the fruits of his labor and showing the same ambition that less prosperous fighters do.
Some fighters react well to suddenly becoming wealthy, whereas others disappear and stop fighting, as we’ve seen with Thurman. It’s too bad because it’s unlikely Thurman will be able to get to the level he was at in 2016 when he was arguably in his prime.
When a fighter has been living high on the hog like Thurman, it ages them, and it’ll be surprising if ‘One Time’ is even 60% of what he once was. But as the saying goes, power is the last thing that goes, and Thurman likely can still punch like a mule kicks.
The only question is whether he’ll be drained from getting back down to 147 because he’s been swelled up from eating well for the last three years, and it’s going to be hard on his body to go back down to his old weight.
If the main event between Thurman and Barrios fails to ignite, the undercard has an excellent battle between former two-time world title challenger Josesito ‘Riverside Rocky’ Lopez (38-8, 21 KOs) and the highly ranked welterweight Abel Ramos (27-4-2, 21 KOs).
The 37-year-old Josesito is getting up there in age, but he still has his punching power and his exciting fighting style that makes him dangerous. Although Josesito isn’t in his prime at this stage in his long 18-year professional career, he’s won his last two fights since coming close to pulling off an upset against a come-backing Thurman in 2017.
Like Thurman, Josesito has had activity problems since the pandemic started, fighting only once in 2020 and not at all in 2021. It’s hard to get the most out of your career when you’re fighting not fighting like Josesito and Thurman.
During his best years, Josesito fought Canelo Alvarez, Thurman, Andre Berto, Marcos Maidana, Victor Ortiz, and Jessie Vargas.