Saturday, May 26, 2018
Sports

Clearwater's Thurman faces fellow unbeaten on Showtime

Clearwater's Keith Thurman says Diego Chaves has never faced a fighter quite like him.

Diego Chaves says Keith Thurman has never faced a fighter quite like him.

Guess what? Both are right.

Tonight in San Antonio, Texas, both young, undefeated powerhouses will square off in an intriguing 12-round WBA welterweight fight.

They have put together almost identical records, mostly by beating the kind of fighters trotted out to give a test just tough enough for rising boxers to pass.

And though Thurman's tests have been significantly tougher the past eight months, neither boxer has fought a fighter in his prime with a high knockout percentage.

Thurman has fought and won 20 times, Chaves 22 times. Both have 18 knockouts.

"Diego and myself are stepping into the danger zone," said Thurman, who is ranked No. 4 by the WBA.

Chaves, 27, is ranked No. 1 and is the interim champion, making tonight's winner essentially the backup behind current champ Adrien Broner.

If Broner chooses not to defend his belt or moves up a weight class, the interim champion will inherit the title.

In the meantime, an interim championship gives the WBA another avenue to collect sanctioning fees.

Regardless of what's at stake, Thurman, 24, who fights out of the St. Pete Boxing Club and is tutored by former two-time trainer of the year Dan Birmingham, says he thinks a classic fight could be in the works.

"I'm really looking forward to this fight," Thurman said. "It should be a fan-favorite fight and a fan-friendly fight. Diego is very strong. My eyes will be wide open at every opening bell.

"But my plan is to chin-check him as soon as possible."

At Thursday's final news conference, Chaves made it clear he is expecting fireworks as well.

"We know we have a tough opponent. We have very similar records. Neither of us can lose concentration during the fight because it can end with only one punch," he said.

Thurman and Chaves have faced their share of unknown opponents, but Thurman has beaten former champions in his past two bouts, Carlos Quintana in November and Jan Zaveck in March.

In his most recent win, Thurman dominated the more seasoned Zaveck and went 12 hard rounds in earning a 120-108 shutout on all three judges' cards.

Chaves doesn't have a big name on his knockout ledger and has fought only once outside his native Argentina. His last fight was almost a year ago, when he knocked out Jose Miranda, who was 12-11-3 at the time.

Thurman expects to be the more polished, well-rounded fighter.

"(Chaves) does have a similar style because he's a puncher, but I see myself as being a little more diverse," Thurman said. "I feel I have the advantage. I can move around the ring if need be."

Though the two don't agree on who will win, there is unanimous consent the fight won't last 12 rounds.

" 'Knockout Kings II' — this event has that title for a reason," Thurman said. "I guarantee you'll get your money's worth."

John C. Cotey can be reached at [email protected] or on [email protected]

 
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Published: 05/25/18