Can Spence beat Thurman?

Keith Thurman, Carlos Quintana

Thurman delivering a lethal blow versus Quintana (c) The Associated Press 2012

This past Saturday Errol Spence Jr. put on a masterclass against Lamont Peterson. Spence’s constant pressure, use of his jab, and blistering combinations forced Peterson’s corner to throw in the towel heading into the 8th round. After the smoke settled, one name in particular was thrown around as Spence’s next opponent…Keith “One-Time” Thurman, or as Spence called him “Sometime” Thurman. Much to the delight of fans Thurman replied to Spence on twitter.

It’s no longer if Thurman and Spence will clash, but when. Boxers call out each other all the time, however Thurman is a fighter who has iron in his words and I do believe this bout will happen soon. They are also under the Al Haymon banner and therefore don’t have to worry about the messy matchmaking politics that plague the sweet science.

Now comes the fun part, what would happen if these two met in the ring in say the latter part of 2018. Well it’s a fight that would yield fireworks given both fighters styles. Thurman is as aggressive as they come yet has superb boxing skills. Spence is…special, he has the skills Thurman has, but has some intangible qualities that just make him stand out. Let’s look at both fighters strengths, weaknesses, and how they would match up.

Thurman Porter.jpg

Keith Thurman Versus Shawn Porter (c) The Associated Press 2016

Keith Thurman

Keith is a rare hybrid between a boxer and a brawler, a boxer-puncher if you will. He has the raw power to knock out opponents, I mean look at his record of 28-0 with 22 KOs. He also has the boxing skills to engage in chess matches with more complicated fighters.


Thurman isn’t called “One Time” for nothing, he can crack. Thurman has knocked out Diego Chaves, Robert Guerrero, Jesus Soto Karass, and Julio Diaz to name a few. It’s not all about his one time power, but he knows how to maximize his power by throwing incredible amounts of leverage into his punches.

Effectiveness in Exchanges

When a fight devolves into a slugfest Thurman is incredibly dangerous, not just because of his power, but his ability to catch his opponent in the chaos. In rewatching his fight against Shawn Porter I noticed this unique trait. Porter continued to rush him and Thurman swung for the fences while maintaining his head and chin tucked to avoid getting caught. He also timed Porter’s wild swings so that his counterpunches would land while minimizing the chance of him getting clipped. It was like a controlled chaos.

Counterpunching and Killer Instinct

Thurman is aggressive, but he also likes to lure an opponent in and catch them with his lethal hooks. He is particularly dangerous when he appears to be “boxing.” I put boxing in quotation marks as Thurman has an explosiveness that can turn a scientific boxing match into a brawl in an instant. Once he clips an opponent with an effective counterpunch he will immediately go for the kill. It’s what makes him so difficult to deal with, you never know when that “one time” power will show up.

Errol Spence Jr.

Errol Spence training (c) The Associated Press 2018

Errol Spence

Combination Punching

This is what makes him so special. Spence is able to connect so many different of permutations of punches that an opponent will not know what to defend. One instant it’s a jab to the head, right cross, left hook to the head, right hook to the body…then he’ll invert it or add a small jab just because he can. While most boxers will systemically target one part of the body, Spence attacks it all, making him incredibly difficult to read. It’s scary how good he is at this, he’s like a surgeon in the ring, he picks his opponents apart while consistently changing his combinations. He reminds me of a young Floyd Mayweather, not “Money” May, but “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather.

Body Work

His body punches are like gunshots. I was present in the nosebleeds of the MGM Grand Arena when Spence fought Phil Lo Greco and I remember hearing the body punches from all the way up in the rafters. I also noticed how Lo Greco’s right side of his body began to tighten after Spence’s vicious body assault. It looked like he was walking with a stump in his leg. His commitment to attacking the body opens up the opportunity to lower his opponents guard and go for the KO.


This is probably his greatest virtue. Spence doesn’t seem to fight in a rush, he fights at a methodical pace. He slowly breaks down an opponent. Despite his young age he really does live the mantra of “don’t look for the KO, it will come.” This is what makes him so scary as an opponent.

How they would match up

Thurman tends to throw punches so hard that he ends up off balance at times. He also has shown susceptibility to body punches. If you rewatch the fight against Luis Collazo, Thurman was badly hurt by a body shot in the 7th round by Collazo.

Spence was in trouble a couple of times against Kell Brook. Particularly whenever Kell came forward and forced Spence on his back foot. In a rare moment Spence looked befuddled and confused. That may be the key to defeating Spence, but it is a huge task.


It’s tough to call given how good they both are. Thurman has the skills to put Spence on his backfoot and land some blistering combinations on him. Spence has superb body punching skills that could rattle Thurman and hurt him far worse that Collazo ever did. The fight would be an instant classic. Spence would work with surgical precision while Thurman would land counterpunches initiating a controlled chaos. But I think Spence’s body work would be the difference. He wouldn’t be able to knock out Thurman as he is incredibly tough, but he would slow him down and edge a slight victory on the cards.

Spence wins via Split Decision in a close bout

The fight would be so good and contentious that a rematch would be in order.

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