Undefeated interim WBA welterweight titlist Keith “One Time” Thurman dreamed since he was a teenager that he would one day become a world champion in boxing. When he steps into the ring against Jesus Soto-Karass on December 14 in San Antonio, he will have a chance to prove that he deserves to be a champion.
Thurman (21-0, 19 KOs) earned the distinction of interim champion in July against Diego Chaves. Adrien Broner, the actual WBA champion, tended to other obligations within the sport, and the World Boxing Association awarded a temporary belt to Thurman, likely in hopes that a fight between the two could materialize in the future.
The 25 year old has been labeled by as one of the sport’s brightest young athletes, touting a precise punch selection and crippling power.
The Clearwater, FL, native continues to face a tougher level of competition to solidify his position at the top of the WBA middleweight rankings, and the tough and tested Soto Karass (28-8-3, 18 KOs) poses a strong challenge.
So far in 2013, Soto Karass has upset former welterweight champions Selcuk Aydin and Winterhaven, FL, resident Andre Berto, and has only been stopped in two career fights. Despite Karass’ recent string of success, Thurman sees a chance for an electrifying stoppage against the rugged Mexican fighter.
“My opponent gets hit, so there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going to hit him. All I need to do is land that one shot, and I believe that the chance will be there,” Thurman said.
Soto Karass has a reputation as a come-forward slugger and has used rough, occasionally illegal tactics to discourage his opponents. Although this style can be difficult to perfectly replicate in training, Thurman thinks that previous fight experience will serve him well.
“I think [Soto Karass] is similar to Orlando Lora,” Thurman recalled. “They don’t fight identical, but Lora is a straight forward fighter. He did some veteran things and tried to get into my head during the fight, but none of his tactics worked for him. I have the experience necessary to win this fight.”
Although Thurman has looked impressive in his most recent bouts, challengers have gotten tougher and the bouts have stretched longer in duration. Thurman’s bout against Jan Zaveck in March went the full twelve rounds and his latest fight against Chaves in July went ten before the eventual stoppage. However, Thurman has no doubts about his ability to thrive late in fights despite little experience going into the tenth round or later.
“I don’t need you to watch me go twelve rounds to know that I can go twelve rounds,” Thurman said. “I put in the work at the gym every single day, going twelve rounds on the bag with extra work added to it. The only thing I like about going into the later rounds with a fighter is that it’s nice to be in with such a good fighter.”
Thurman is not looking through Soto Karass, but sees the fight as a stepping stone for bigger and better bouts. Assuming he emerges victorious, the contender is aiming for fights in 2014 against more established fighters, including undefeated British contender Kell Brook and WBO champion Timothy Bradley, who controversially beat Manny Pacquiao in June 2012.
“My heart is old school, and I am prepared to fight anybody. I actually look forward to the day that I lose,” Thurman said. “I look forward to it, because whoever that man is who beats me, that’s going to be a great man, because I’m not an easy fighter to defeat.”
Thurman does not know where his future is headed, but his next stop on the journey towards stardom comes Saturday night.
Thurman’s fight airs on Showtime as part of a four fight card beginning at 8PM, headlined by Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana.