The CBZ Newswire

Thurman Plans to End Matters Early in Explosive Showdown with Chaves

by on Jul.25, 2013, under Boxing News

By Juan C. Ayllon

Keith Thurman, at left, shown here bouncing a right off the jaw of Jan Zaveck (photo courtesy of ESPN.Go.Com)

Keith Thurman, at left, shown here bouncing a right off the jaw of Jan Zaveck (photo courtesy of ESPN.Go.Com)

SAN ANTONIO, TX, July 25, 2013 – This fight is the kind that sports viewers love – a collision of two undefeated knockout artists.

On Saturday, Clearwater, Florida’s welterweight sensation, Keith Thurman, 24, faces hard-hitting but little known Argentine boxer, Diego Chaves for the interim World Boxing Association crown at San Antonio’s AT & T Center. Trained by Dan Birmingham (who also trained world champs Ronald “Winky” Wright and Jeff Lacy) and managed by powerbroker Al Haymon, Thurman is tracking to stardom and mega-dollar fights.  However, Chaves says he’s going to derail his plans and establish himself as the latest sensation from South of the Equator.

Televised by Showtime, former World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation Welterweight Champion Andre Berto faces Jesus Soto Karass for the Vacant North American Boxing Federation title in the main event.

In March, Thurman (20-0 with 18 knockouts) produced his most complete performance in thumping and dominating Jan Zaveck, a rugged Slovenian slab of muscle with a record of 32-3, 1 no contest, and 18 knockouts. A former IBF Welterweight title holder who’d never been knocked out, Zaveck reigned as champ from December 2009 until September 2011, when he retired against Berto in five rounds of a competitive fight because he could no longer see out of his right eye. Against Thurman, Zaveck was virtually shut out.

“It was really nice to get my 12 round-experience behind me,” Thurman says. “It’s why I’m so confident. Diego hasn’t faced someone like [Zaveck] or Carlos Quintana, for that matter.”

At the tail end of his previous knockout streak, Thurman overcame insiders’ predictions of a 50-50 fight with his devastating four round destruction of former WBO champion and spoiler, Carlos Quintana (29-4 with 23 knockouts) in November 2012. Nicknamed “One Time” for his body punching prowess he inherited from his dad, Thurman dropped Quintana in the first round and was bludgeoning him about the head in the fourth when referee Jack Reiss waved off the carnage. On Saturday, Thurman plans on jump-starting another run.

At 27 years age, his opponent, Diego Chaves, looks to join compatriots Marcos Maidana, Lucas Matthysse, Omar Narvaez and Sergio Martinez as successors to Argentine boxing legends Carlos Monzon, Pascual Perez, and Nicolino Locche. In knocking out his last three opponents inside three rounds, Eastside Boxing’s Allan Fox says, “Chaves looks like a stronger version of Marcos Maidana.” Indeed, his dossier of 22 wins and 18 knockouts appears impressive, yet lacks recognizable names – a point that Thurman underscores in suggesting he’s over-extending his reach in Saturday’s showdown.

“A lot of people feel I’m stepping up [in class], but I know he’s stepping up too big.”

Thurman and Chaves at a press conference this week (photo by Chris Getty)

Thurman and Chaves at a press conference this week (photo by Chris Getty)

With all the media hoopla and intrusions as they make final mental preparations for their dangerous sport, boxers are notoriously edgy during the final week prior to a match. Yet, with little more than 48 hours to go, Thurman is gracious in granting this last minute interview.

“I’m real good – camp was good. I’m physically and mentally prepared,” he says. “I’m going to go in there and show that Diego has outclassed himself. He wants to prove himself…but I plan to chin-check him early and hopefully walk out early!”

When asked about postings on Facebook that he was getting up at 5:30 AM, which seems awfully early for someone accustomed to sleeping-in late in between fights, and running at Clearwater beach, as well as other special preparations, he appeared bemused.

“I just worked hard – that’s all. You show up for work, only the person and place are different. I had a real good camp!”

I ask him about his relationship with his girlfriend, Emily, how it impacts training and whether or not he sees her up to fight time.

“You’re the only person who asks me about that,” he says with a little annoyance. “Our relationship is fine. One day, people will know more about that area, but right now, I want the focus to be on my ring career.”

Explaining that I want to portray the whole person and not just the athlete, I quickly segue to my final question: What is his prediction?

You can hear the smile re-emerge over the phone as he says, “It’s definitely not going 12 rounds! If I have my way, it is going to be over in less than six.”


Keith Thurman in a light workout earlier this evening (photo by Chris Getty)

Keith Thurman in a light workout earlier this evening (photo by Chris Getty)

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