|Prospect Watch: Interview with Keith Thurman
By Bob Carroll, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 3, 2008) DoghouseBoxing.com
As I have stated on Doghouse Boxing before, the Tampa Florida area has become a major player in the sport of boxing. Boxing champions such as Antoinio Tarver, Edner Cherry, Winky Wright and Jeff Lacy all call the Tampa Bay area home. It is also home to many promising young fighters, some that fade in time, but there is one individual fighter that has made not only the Tampa area take notice, but much of the boxing world.
Welterweight Keith Thurman, 7-0 (7), has come into the sport of boxing like a hurricane, leaving a trail of destruction in his path. I have been fortunate enough to see Keith in action twice during his career and both times I have been mightily impressed. In his last bout on August 15th, Keith took on the unbeaten Omar Bell, brother of former Cruiserweight World Champion, O’Neil Bell, stopping him in stunning fashion in the first round. I recently sat down and spoke to Keith about his amateur and pro career, and what we could look forward to from him in the future.
As we spoke, I couldn’t help but think how mature the 19 year old Keith Thurman sounded.
Bob Carroll: Keith, what brought you into the sport of boxing?
Keith Thurman: When I was young I was very athletic, I played any sport, soccer, baseball, hockey, I roller bladed, I did everything. I really looked up to my father and he participated in martial arts, a few different art forms and he used to play fight, roughhouse with me. I always wanted to be my dad, because he was bigger and I’m young, so I looked up to him. When I at the YMCA at my elementary school, the head janitor Ben Getty, who is my coach, put on an exhibition. They had one of the biggest kids in the school spar with one of his students (with gloves and headgear) on the stage. The biggest kid ended up getting a bloody nose, I was surprised that the school let this happen. The coach was there, it was on stage, the kid had experience, so he was going easy, but coach wanted to show that a smaller guy can defend himself knowing boxing. Afterwards they told us to grab a sign-up sheet if we wanted to join the classes. I went to the back of the room, grabbed a sheet and when I got home, I told my mother ‘I want to box’. The next day, she went to the school and told my trainer, Ben Getty, that her son wanted to box. That is how it all started.
BC: Let's introduce Keith Thurman to the readers of Doghouse Boxing and to the world. You had a remarkable amateur career, winning 6 National Titles including the PAL National Championship in 2006. One of your biggest amateur career accomplishments was winning the Silver Medal at the 2008 Olympic Team Trials, your only loss being to eventual United States Olympic team member Demetrius Andrade. Was there any sense of disappointment in getting that close and losing, or did you use that to fuel your professional career?
KT: There was a little disappointment, taking that loss, knowing I was so close, knowing all that hard work and training. Sometimes you can feel like you did all of that for nothing, but I held my head up high, I looked at that Silver Medal and I was proud of my self at the end of the day. From that point, I believe it fueled the fire into the world of the pros.
BC: You began your professional career in November 2007, with a first round KO of Kensky Rodney. Do you remember if you had any butterflies before climbing into the ring for your first professional fight, or was it just business as usual?
KT: For the most part, it was business as usual. Usually I have butterflies no matter what, it’s like your stepping up on stage, the spotlight is on you, it was my first pro fight, so there was a little nervousness going on. Now the second I stepped into the ring, and all of the experience that I have had, it’s like the ring is home and the butterflies went away.
BC: You reeled off another five first round KO’s before you met what was supposed to be the toughest fight of your young career, a bout against an undefeated Omar Bell, two weeks ago. In that bout, not only did you get another first round KO, but Bell was taken to the hospital after the bout for precautionary measures. Before this bout, did you feel your string of very early KO’s could be in jeopardy?
KT: No, I felt that he might come out with a little more skill. I felt maybe I wasn’t going to put down in the first round, that that was possible. I trained hard for the fight, I’ve been in the ring about 100 times as an amateur, so I was ready for him, and it showed.
BC: As I mentioned, Bell was taken to the hospital after the bout. Was there some concern for his well being back in your dressing room after the fight, and how is Bell doing now?
KT: I’m not really sure how he is doing now, I know he was released that night and they did not hold him overnight, so I would assume that he was good to go home. I hope that he is living a normal life, I hope the fight didn’t traumatize him to where anything is messed up, to where it would show. After every knockout, I’m always glad to see the fighter get back up. I never want to see a fighter not get up, you know.
BC: Your record today, stands at 7-0, with 7 KO's, not one of your opponents has made it to the end of the first round. Do you feel your power has the Welterweight division on full alert, even this early in your career?
KT: I would hope so, I’m here, ready to go into the Welterweight division and ready to show them what I’ve got!
BC: In the last 5 years, the Tampa Florida area has exploded with boxing talent. Guys like Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Edner Cherry and Jeff Lacy have been in the spotlight, and now your name is being mentioned along side of them. How does it feel to be in the company of these fighters, at such an early stage of your career?
KT: It’s great, you know. I’ve been able to work with a few of them, if not all of them, at sometime during my amateur career. I’ve worked with pretty much most of the (Tampa) Bay area people, besides Antonio Tarver, I haven’t got a chance to work with him. It’s great knowing one day my name can be just as big as theirs.
BC: What can we look forward to from Keith Thurman at the end of 2008 and into 2009?
KT: At the end of this year, we’re going to most likely seal up a fight here in November. I don’t think we’re going to squeeze anything through, it’s really hard getting fights, it’s a pretty tight schedule. I might just have one more fight this year, but we may try to get two, it would be nice to get two in, before the year end. Next year we are most likely shooting for a TV fight. ShowBox has been showcasing undefeated fighters, guys with records like 9-0, 10-0, in co-main events. Next year we are definitely looking to be on TV, ESPN or something. We are going to try to get that exposure and slowly go out and try to make a statement, move up in class a little bit, which is what we are doing now. With my previous fight and from here on out, we’re slowly going try to take the steps it takes to move up.
BC: What would you like to say to all of your fans and the readers of Doghouse Boxing?
KT: Stay tuned, keep watching me, keep supporting me. For all my fans in Tampa, thanks for your support! Keep coming out and I hope you enjoy the fights, because I’m here to entertain.
I’d like to thank Keith Thurman for taking time to speak with Doghouse Boxing and Aaron Jacobs at Starfight Promotions for setting up the interview. Listen to Fightin’ Words Radio Show this Wednesday night from 6-7pm on www.1490WWPR.com. Keith will join Bob, Butch and “THE Big Dog” Benny Henderson Jr, as a special guest, starting at 6:30pm. For more on Fightin’ Words Radio Show, go to the shows website at www.1490WWPR.com
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