The PBC Mailbag: Thurman-Tszyu, Future Welterweight Hall of Famers

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"Breadman" breaks down Thurman vs. Tszyu, potential Hall of Fame welterweights, David Benavidez and more.

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Two Straight Minutes of Keith Thurman Landing BOMBS in Super Slow Motion

Am I crazy for thinking that Keith Thurman will upset Tim Tszyu? Tszyu was getting spanked around on film out in Vegas by a journeyman in sparring. He got dropped by Terrell Gausha who knocks no one down. And Thurman has fought the best of the best. Convince me I’m not crazy, please?

Bread’s Response: You are not crazy to think Keith Thurman has a chance to upset Tim Tszyu. I’m picking Tszyu to win but I’m not counting Thurman out. I want to add to your list of things you like about Thurman is, he’s used to the big moment. It doesn’t get any bigger than fighting Manny Pacquiao. So let me just break the fight down and you can draw any conclusions you want. 

Keith Thurman has a high level of intelligence. He actually seems more intelligent than the average fighter. So, he combats ring rust different than most. He seems to not only know his body but he understands the human body as far as what he does and doesn’t need. Listen to him talk. What I’ve learned about Thurman is he looks more vulnerable than he really is. He often looks hurt but he never gets stopped. He often looks like he’s moving too much and he’s going to run out of gas but he never does. So, his inactivity and vulnerable moments causes him to get undervalued. I respect Keith Thurman because he fooled me and my eyes are hard to fool. I was shocked at how sharp he was versus Mario Barrios. I thought that was the perfect storm for Barrios to beat Thurman and Thurman won going away. That was impressive. 

Style wise, Thurman has figured out a way to move, punch while moving, and create a scenario where it looks like he’s being chased but the opponent is running into his shots. Thurman has his style and concept down pact. The issue for Thurman in this fight in my opinion is, Tszyu is a counter punching pressure technician. He slides up on his opponents efficiently, with his hands in place to fire. He causes a “fight or flight” scenario. If the opponents take flight, he patiently tracks them down and he punishes them. If they fight, he makes them reach and he counter punches them. See the Tony Harrison fight. 

Sometimes good offensive fighters get overrated. Even the great ones do, because our eyes only see the destructions. So I’m making a conscious effort to NOT overrate Tszyu until I see more. I also saw him struggle vs Terrell Gausha. But he seems much improved since. I don’t know if it was a case of anxiety or adaptation to the travel. But he didn’t look good in that fight. Even though he was winning, I said out loud and to myself, that Tszyu was fortunate to be fighting Gausha that night. Because the other top 154 pounders are known for letting their hands go and for whatever reasons, Tszyu’s head was static and on line all night. Gausha could’ve knocked Tszyu out if he wasn’t so conservative. But Tszyu got past his bad night while still winning 9 or 10 rounds. That’s something to consider. So here I am with this fight…

I’m curious to see how well Tszyu travels this time. This is his first fight back in the US since the Gausha fight. I’m curious to see if Thurman is rusty because he’s never shown signs of ring rust before. The reason I’m picking Tszyu is because while I believe Thurman has excellent movement, I feel like fighters fall into Thurman’s trap of trying to press him too hard. Thurman wants that. I think Tszyu’s pressure is more efficient. His jab is better. And Tszyu goes to the body with both hands. Tszyu moves at the speedhe sees fit and he doesn’t “over try.”

I suspect that Tszyu is better with opponents who move away from him than he is with fighters who press him. But not anyone can just press him. It’s going to take a GUY to press him and I’m not sure who that will be. Although Thurman can trick us, I feel like we know how he’s going to fight. Thurman is a big punching, a mover. I’m not picking Tszyu because I think Thurman will be rusty. I’m picking him because Thurman doesn’t have a commanding jab. He doesn’t have an energy efficient way of scoring points. And just because no one has dried out his gas tank, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. 

I feel like Tszyu applies his pressure style better than anyone that Thurman has fought for the exception of the all-time great Manny Pacquiao. Tszyu also is very quick. Quicker than given credit for. There was no speed advantage for Tony Harrison over Tszyu and Harrison has fast hands. I look for Tszyu to apply smart pressure. Use his jab to control Thurman. I think the raucous, Australian pro-Tszyu crowd with Thurman constantly moving  will create the impression that Tszyu is walking him down and controlling him. I feel like it will be too much to overcome, especially down the stretch where Tszyu seems to get stronger as the fight goes on.

Hey Breadman, who would you say are some of the best, most unique counter punchers of all time?  Today, I think the best unique counter puncher is Canelo Alvarez. He's so dynamic, and he's the only counter puncher of this era that can fight on the backfoot, but also on the front foot going forward and being aggressive.  Floyd Mayweather was an impeccable counter puncher, but “Money” Mayweather mostly fought of the back foot for most of his fights.  But as “Pretty Boy,” he was so dynamic as well, with speed and power. You got other counter punchers like Terence Crawford, Gervonta Davis, Shakur Stevenson, Devin Haney, but they aren't as dynamic and can't really fight on the front foot. Thank you!

Bread’s Response: Boxing’s most unique counter punchers…well, Canelo is definitely high on every list. Canelo can counter punch with both hands, in combination, to the head and body. His counter punching is off the charts. 

Tank Davis doesn’t really counter punch in combination like Canelo, but he can knock you dead with either hand to the head and body. Has anyone in boxing had as many one-punch, counter punch KOs as Tank? Ryan Garcia, Rolly Romero and Leo Santa Cruz were all one-punch, counter punch kos. 

Terence Crawford is also a great counter puncher. He also counter punches to the body which is debilitating because fighters blow air out as they punch and if you’re hit to the body as air is being blown out, your organs are more vulnerable . But his counter punching is more subtle than Tank and Canelo’s. But it’s equally effective. 

Jaron “Boots” Ennis and Naoya “Monster” Inoue round out my top five unique counter punchers. Both of them have such incredible eyes and reflexes, that they will punch while their opponent has started to punch and still land their shot. That’s tough and risky but they can get away with it. Gunslingers of the highest ilk.

I’m picking Tszyu to win but I’m not counting Thurman out. Trainer - Stephen "Breadman" Edwards

All the oddsmakers expect Tim Tszyu to destroy Keith Thurman. Despite this fact, I find this fight to be incredibly compelling. It wasn’t long ago that Thurman was considered one of the very best boxers, regardless of weight class. I could see Thurman winning this fight. Am I just being nostalgic or do you see “One Time” as a real threat to Tszyu as well?

Bread’s Response: I don’t think you’re being nostalgic. I think Thurman has a shot. In terms of percentages, I think the fight is 65/35 in Tszyu’s favor. When I break down a fight, a look at the measurables. Age, height, reach, etc. Then I look their track records. If the fight is easy to break down, I don’t over think it. But if it’s not easy to breakdown, I look at the styles. 

Tszyu has the advantages in the measurables. Then in my opinion he has the advantage in the style match up. Thurman is a mover who can punch. Tszyu is a calculated pressure fighter who likes to counter punch. Thurman moves and bounces pretty much the entire fight. Tszyu patiently stalks the entire fight. In this match up I see two athletes running on the track. They start out at the same place. One is on the inside lane of the track. One is on the outside lane of the track. I feel like Tszyu is the athlete on the inside. Thurman is the athlete on the outside. It takes Thurman a lot more running to get to the same finish line. 

Because Thurman’s fights are hectic and energy draining, a calm pressure fighter like Tszyu has a big advantage over him, in my opinion. Thurman is talented and he can throw every punch, but I’ve never seen him win a fight with a commanding jab. Often times once a fighter gets older, he adds some energy efficient skills to his game. It’s why so many older heavyweights, have longevity. They can post up and use their jabs. Thurman has a jab but it’s more of a range finder. Because of this, I feel like Tszyu will outbox him but outbox him going forward. And make Thurman expend too much energy going down the stretch. 

It’s not that Thurman doesn’t have a chance or can’t win. It’s more so I haven’t seen a Thurman that can settle down a bigger, in his prime pressure guy like Tszyu. If Thurman does win, he would have had to add some more layers to his game. But I can’t pick him because I haven’t seen it yet. But this is a winnable fight for him. Hope I made you feel better about your pick. Should be a good fight.

Who does David Benavidez remind you of historically? I can remember you saying that Tank Davis was a mix of Naseem Hamed, Zab Judah and Mike Tyson. It was the perfect mix and I can see all three of them in Tank. But you haven’t given us David Benavidez yet. I need to get a visual of who he is historically?

Bread’s Response: No one has asked me about Benavidez in terms of his style. But I do have a match. Watch Diego Corrales versus Angel Manfredy. Benavidez throws, short, little brutal counter punches just like “Chico” Corrales. It’s uncanny. But David is more clever than Chico was defensively. So Benavidez may not like this but he has some Canelo in his game. Watch how he sets up his body attack. It’s very similar to Canelo. 

But David's kamikaze pressure is different from Canelo’s. Put Diego Corrales, Canelo Alvarez and Jeff Fenech in a bottle and you got David Benavidez. For those who don’t know, watch Jeff Fenech versus Steve McCrory and you will get exactly what I’m talking about. Fenech was a nonstop punching marvel, he was huge for 118 and 122, he was physical and the fights in his prime were always fought on his terms. Great physical fighter. 

Where do you rank Errol Spence Jr. all time at welterweight? Out of Errol Spence, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman are any of them Hall Of Fame? My guess is Danny is the closest because of his run at 140.

Bread’s Response: Interesting question. I think Errol has been the second best welterweight post the Floyd/Manny era, behind Terence Crawford. But all-time rankings are usually reserved for fighters who are in the top 10 of a division ranking all time or at least close. Welterweight is boxing’s greatest division historically with fighters like Robinson, Armstrong, Leonard, Hearns, Mayweather and Napoles doing significant work. It’s hard to break into the top 10 at welterweight all time. If Spence would have defeated Crawford, then he would be in the conversation. But right now I can’t put him there. However, let’s see how the rest of Errol’s career plays out before we write the book on him. I feel like he’s one or two nice wins away from the HOF.  Off the top of my head without having a researched list, I’m guessing that Errol is somewhere in the top 20-25 ever at 147. He’s next to the Marlon Starling’s and Simon Brown’s which is good company by the way. But again, that’s off the top of my head.

I don’t know if Danny is the closest but I feel like if he wins a legit title at 154 or 160 then he’s most likely a HOF. It would be hard to keep him out if, say, he beats Tim Tszyu for a real title at 154 or Erislandy Lara for a title at 160.

Keith Thurman is not in right now in my opinion. But if beats Tim Tszyu he would have strong consideration. And if he follows up the Tszyu win with a win over Crawford or a big name he’s a lock.

As far as I know Shawn Porter is retired so his career can be accurately evaluated. I don’t think Shawn is quite a HOF. But he’s literally a hand full or rounds away from being a HOF. Let me explain. Porter lost to Kell Brook by majority decision. He lost to Keith Thurman by 115-113 on all three cards. And he lost to Errol Spence by split decision, I thought the knockdown was the difference in the Spence fight. A few close rounds that go Porter’s way and he’s in the HOF. Think about his resume if he had wins over an undefeated Brook, undefeated Thurman and undefeated Spence. Every single fighter that ever beat Porter was undefeated and in their prime. Shawn was a very, very good fighter.

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