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Thurman: March 30th About Proving [I] Was, Is, Forever Will Be One Of Greatest Fighters In Boxing

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Keith Thurman, almost with a wink, ramped up the promotional bravado toward the end of a press conference Wednesday in Los Angeles.

A theatrical Thurman promised to send a disappointed Tim Tszyu back home to Australia, where he’ll have to cry to his dad, former 140-pound champ Kostya Tszyu, and admit that he underestimated Thurman when he accepted their fight. Tszyu urged Thurman to bring that same energy into the ring March 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and predicted that he’ll become the first fighter to knock out the former WBA/WBC welterweight champion.

Thurman, of Clearwater, Florida, explained moments earlier Wednesday why he has moved up in weight to fight Sydney’s Tszyu in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions’ inaugural pay-per-view show with new partner Amazon Prime.

“I’ve done a lot at 147,” Thurman said. “I’m a dreamer. I wanna do great things at 154. I wanna show the world what type of champion is Keith Thurman. I’m the kinda champion like Ali. You put me back in the ring, and I’m gonna rise back to the top. You know, that’s what this is all about. People have comments, people have suggestions, people come up with their statistics.

“You know, but at the end of the day, they’re not with Keith Thurman. They’re not seeing my grind. They’re not in my head. They don’t understand my mindset. And that’s what March 30th is all about, is just proving to the world that Keith Thurman was, is and will be forever and ever one of the greatest fighters in the sport of boxing.”

DraftKings sportsbook has installed Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs) as a whopping 11-1 favorite over Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC), who has lost only a 12-round split decision to future Hall-of-Famer Manny Pacquiao in July 2019 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Thurman dismissed those surprisingly lopsided odds and assured detractors that another long layoff, almost 26 months by fight night, and his age, 35, won’t factor into the outcome of his 12-round, 155-pound, non-title fight against the 29-year-old Tszyu, who owns the WBO junior middleweight championship.

“You know, me moving up, I’m just looking for great fights,” said Thurman, who has fought only once since his loss to Pacquiao 4½ years ago. “I’ve done this in the past. I want great fights. I want great action. Tim Tszyu is filling that void right now. He’s gonna be providing me with the fight that I want. He’s providing me with the excitement. He’s coming, young, undefeated, determined, trying to open up the gates to his new era, the new generation.

“But it’s my job to close the door shut right in his face! They don’t call him ‘Pitbull,’ but I want him to go tail tucked, head down, back to his daddy in Australia. ‘I’m sorry, pops. I’m sorry. The Tszyu name. I messed up. I didn’t know he was that bad.’ ”

A mildly amused Tszyu challenged Thurman to not run “like a gazelle” once the bell rings to start their bout late next month.

“You bring that energy,” Tszyu said. “I want that energy coming into the fight because when I do – and mark my words – I will knock you out in under 12 rounds.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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