Unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman said he'll be back fighting early next year, but did essentially rule out one name from being his return fight opponent: Shawn Porter.
Thurman, alongside promoter Lou DiBella and Showtime Sports Executive Stephen Espinoza, appeared at the Barclays Center to talk about Thurman’s recovery and who he could possibly fight next.
It was announced that by DiBella that the timeframe for Thurman to make his return to the ring would be sometime in the first quarter of 2018. No opponent has been announced nor were any names mentioned as to who could fight Thurman, but Thurman told Fightful that he seriously doubts he’ll be fighting Porter in his first fight back.
The reason being is that Thurman doesn’t want to take a fight against a high-caliber opponent such as Porter as his first fight coming from elbow surgery. Thurman said he would rather shake the ring rust off first then take a big fight such as Porter.
“I know how eager Shawn is to get in the ring with me and do the rematch. 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. You’re talking about a whiplash accident that I experienced in 2017, then having a recovery from that, 8-week training camp, then fighting Shawn Porter. First, fighting Danny Garcia, then surgery and then Shawn Porter? I mean, that’s a dog after a dog after a dog. We might not run that deep when I jump right back into the sport. But best believe that once I brush the dust off, we’ll get moving and get right back into things against top, quality fighters in the welterweight division,” Thurman said.
Thurman and Porter fought in 2016 and Thurman won that fight via unanimous decision with Thurman’s WBA welterweight title on the line. Thurman became a unified champion when he beat Danny Garcia at the Barclays Center back in March in a fight that peaked at more than five million viewers on CBS. Thurman hurt his elbow in that fight and had to undergo surgery, eliminating any chance of Thurman coming back to fight for the remainder of 2017.
Porter has since then bounced back from the loss to Thurman, beating Andre Berto earlier this year to become the WBC’s mandatory challenger, of which Thurman also is the welterweight champion. As Thurman was recovering from surgery, the WBC tried to make an interim welterweight title fight between Porter and Garcia happen with the winner fighting Thurman in 2018. The fight never materialized and so Porter will fight Adrian Granados on November 4 for the WBC’s Silver welterweight title. The winner of that fight presumably will be next in line to fight Thurman for the WBC title.
Thurman also said he wants to unify more world titles at 147 pounds starting in the second half of 2018, potentially against IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.