While the Spence fight didn’t come together, Thurman did land the biggest fight of his career. Thurman faced off with the legendary Manny Pacquiao in a July 2019 showdown that saw the Filipino legend edge out the split decision victory.
Reckoning with his first career loss and more lingering physical issues, Thurman has not been in a professional fight since the loss to Pacquiao and has to answer the questions surrounding multiple long layoffs, ring rust and whether he still has it in him to be an elite fighter in one of the deepest divisions in the sport.
“A lot of things that have happened, they are not ideal. They are not something you put on your to-do list,” Thurman told CBS Sports. “Let me not be in the ring for two-and-a-half years. Let me have elbow surgery. Let me have bone fusion surgery.
These are things that manifested in my life and struggles that I faced. But hurdles are put there to jump over and overcome. I feel great at age 33. I might have missed two years of my prime but luckily we are still in our prime.”https://5f90363f0f0b9627f2c866646c16edc1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0
Barrios (26-1, 17 KO) is adding depth to the division, moving up from junior welterweight. Like Thurman, Barrios is coming off the first loss of his professional career, a June 2021 war with Gervonta Davis in which Barrios was stopped late in Round 11. The loss cost Barrios his secondary WBA title at 140 pounds.
Barrios is seven years younger than Thurman and three inches taller, but he has a thin frame, making him less of a natural welterweight than his opponent despite the advantage in height and reach.
Links=> Stream 1
“We’re trying to picture what Keith Thurman is going to be in the ring come Feb. 5, and he wants to prove a point,” Barrios told the PBC Podcast. “He wants to get back on track to where he was in the division. But this is my first fight at welterweight, and I’m trying to make my own impact and my own stamp in the division.
“He might be [overlooking me] and if he is, that’s a mistake that he’s making. I can’t speak on what he’s thinking about or what he’s worried about right now. I just know that I’m thinking about Keith Thurman, and if he’s worried about anyone else other than Mario Barrios, he’s making a big mistake.
So, where the question for Thurman is whether time and rust have knocked him from the welterweight elite, the question for Barrios is whether he’s a welterweight at all