If IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. had it his way, he would have been fighting unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion Keith Thurman sometime soon.
Spence spoke at a press conference in New York where Fightful appeared in and spoke on the possibility of unifying world titles with Thurman. Spence said his objective is to fight three times in 2018 with the hope that one of those fights is a welterweight superfight against Thurman, calling it a champion's duty to fight other champions.
Instead of fighting Thurman, Spence will make his first IBF title defense against former world champion Lamont Peterson on January 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
"In a perfect world I'd be unifying with Keith Thurman this year. I'm going to fight three times this year though. You don't get time back. I'm ready to strike now. A true champion can't fight everybody who calls them out, it's still a business. But a true champion fights other champions, especially when they're available. You can't avoid questions and try to delay a fight. You fight the next champion that's available, that's what a true champion does," Spence said.
The idea of Spence and Thurman fighting each other has been explored for months, but as Thurman is set to return to the ring in a few months coming out of elbow surgery, the chances of that unification fight happening in 2018 are somewhat low. Thurman has a mandatory title defense against Shawn Porter, but Thurman had previously told Fightful that his first fight back will most likely not be against Thurman, further putting a fight against Spence on hold.
"I don’t think I’ll be taking that level of a fight coming off my injury. I think I’m going to have a welcome back fight, throw the arm around, test it out, have a good, injury-free camp and get the momentum of that, then we can possibly get in the mix with Shawn after that. I’d be surprised if he is the first name to fight coming out," Thurman said.
Fightful will have live coverage of the event from inside the Barclays Center. Check out Fightful's preview of the fight on the latest edition of the Fightful Boxing Newsletter.