Keith "One-Time" Thurman was the top welterweight in the world before he took his first loss as a professional against Manny Pacquiao on July 20,2019. Thurman lost a very close fight, via split decision, to the future hall of famer. After the fight One-Time took some time to heal from that loss and nagging health issues.
That fight against Manny Pacquiao was more than two and a half years ago. To put it in prospective around the time Thurman last fought, when someone mentioned Corona, we would only think about the beer. The world has changed in a major way since the Pacquiao fight. The big question was, has Keith Thurman changed as a fighter.
One-Time would show very little ring rust as he dominated Mario Barrios on February 6th from start to finish. Thurman would show elements of his classic form as he was able to put on a boxing display of counter punching, timing, and effective movement. This display showed the world that One-Time is ready for the championship stage. Now the question is what's next for Keith Thurman? Here are some options.
Terence "Bud" Crawford
WBO Welterweight Champion Terence Crawford (Photo courtesy of DAZN)
Terence Crawford is an undefeated champion who has the total package. Thurman stated that he wants all the belts and getting a fight with Crawford may be the easiest way to start that journey. Crawford is no longer under the Top Rank umbrella meaning it should be easy to make a fight with him. It would be a huge notch in Thurman's belt to defeat the undefeated Crawford. Crawford would be a tough opponent as he is a great body puncher, counter-puncher, and all-around boxer.
WBA Welterweight Champion Yordenis Ugas (Photo provided by Boxing Insider)
Yordenis Ugas will be fighting Errol Spence Jr on April 16th next in a unification match. If Thurman is willing to wait until late 2022 to fight again, Ugas, will be a good opponent. Thurman wants to go after the welterweight belts and Ugas may have 3 of the 4 after his bout with Spence. Ugas does present some difficulties with his defensive, discipline, counter-punching style.
Errol Spence Jr
WBC and IBF Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr (Photo via Daily Express)
Errol Spence Jr, is now in the position that Thurman was in, just a few short years ago. Spence is the top man in the division, depending on your view of Terence Crawford and has two of the four major belts. "The Truth" as they call Errol Spence Jr may have three of the four major belts after April 16th. That would have to be an enticing opportunity for Thurman to get three belts at one time. See what I did there. Spence would be a tough fight due to his versatility as a fighter. He can bang or box with the best of them.
Undefeated Welterweight Contender Conor Benn (Photo provided by Sky Sports)
If a championship fight isn't available. Thurman should look to fight a top ten ranked welterweight coming off of a good win. Conor Benn is ranked in top ten in the WBA, IBF, and WBO rankings. I can't explain while the WBC doesn't have him ranked. That's boxing politics for you, which I would need several articles to cover. Benn defeated veteran contender Chris Algeri on December 11 via a very impressive knockout. Benn hit Algeri with a straight right hand that put Algeri to sleep. If Keith Thurman defeats Conor Benn, it would be very hard for any of the champions to avoid him after that.
Jaron "Boots" Ennis
Undefeated Welterweight Contender Jaron "Boots" Ennis (Photo via Boxing Scene)
Jaron Ennis doesn't have the star power or the resume of the other names on this list but he is an undefeated, exciting fighter with a very high knockout rate. Ennis has 26 knockouts in his 28 career bouts. If Thurman beats the young, up and coming star a championship fight would be on the horizon for late 2022 or early 2023.
As a boxing fan, I am really excited to have Keith Thurman back in boxing. He showed against Mario Barrios that he is still on of the best welterweights in the world. Now is he THE best, hopefully we get the answer to that question soon.