The beach, a cabin in the mountains, Amir Khan’s face—Keith Thurman’s pondering what he wants to hit next.
It’s the Monday after Thurman’s victory over Luis Collazo (36-7, 19 KOs) on Saturday at Tampa’s USF Sun Dome, where Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) thrilled a hometown crowd and most likely elicited the opposite reaction from Collazo’s ophthalmologist thanks to the fight-ending damage done to Collazo’s right eye, which became as swollen and distended as a python’s belly after scarfing down an alley cat.
Thurman has a few post-fight press obligations left and a move back to his birthplace of Clearwater, Florida to plan, but other than that, he’s starting to enter chill mode, and you can hear it in his voice, which is as warm and inviting as the tropical locales he’s thinking of soon visiting— it’s either that, a getaway in the mountains or a road trip with his mom.
It’s been a family-oriented couple of days for Thurman.
On Sunday, he celebrated his father getting married.
“It was a beautiful day, man,” Thurman purrs like a kitten getting its belly rubbed.
Talking business in this context feels kind of like tossing a brick into a perfectly placid, wake-free body of water, but—kersplash!—this is boxing, and it’s all about who’s next.
Thurman’s targeting Amir Khan, the popular Brit with hands nearly as fast as the lighting so frequent to Tampa’s skies.
“Amir’s definitely at the top of the list,” Thurman says. “Amir’s done a lot of great things in his boxing career. He’s currently undefeated ever since he stepped into the 147-pound division. He’s been entertaining the fans with some decent fights. I think the fans really want to know who wins it, Keith Thurman or Amir Khan? And there’s only way of making that happen. It’s called a contract. I’m ready for the fight.”
Until then, Thurman still has some reflecting to do on the fight he just won. He seems content with his performance, though acknowledges there’s room for improvement.
“I could have used my head movement better,” he says. “There’s tools that I have that I could have used within the fight that I didn’t really use, but I was figuring out Luis Collazo round by round, seeing what works. In the seventh round, I was really in my groove. I put a lot of damage on him.”
Collazo inflicted some damage on Thurman as well, however, most notably with a liver-hammering blow in Round 5. It was the kind of punch that turns internal organs into bumper cars, painfully mashing into one another.
Thurman thought about going down, then thought better of it.
“That was a terrific body shot,” he says. “I could have taken the knee and taken time to recover instead of putting myself in a dangerous situation. But as I thought about it, I just neglected to give him the two points. I’ve endured damage in the past throughout my career, so I know how tough I am.”
Of course, Collazo is a common opponent between Khan and Thurman, with Khan having outpointed him by a wide margin in May 2014, so Collazo has a unique perspective on both.
When it came to assessing Thurman, Collazo was respectful of his opponent after Saturday's fight, but wasn’t ready to include him among the sport’s elite just yet.
“He’s still got to keep climbing up that ladder,” Collazo said. “There’s levels to this game. He’s just got to go another level.”
Thurman’s used to this kind of criticism—constructive or otherwise. It comes with the territory of being a higher-profile fighter.
Even with his win over Collazo, there are those who say Thurman should have been able to dispatch with the southpaw more easily than he did, though that would be to minimize what a skilled, durable veteran Collazo has consistently proven himself to be.
“Some people say he was running. Some people say I was running. We were both boxing,” Thurman says. “The sport is called ‘boxing,’ not ‘fighting.’ Understand the sport that you’re watching and admire that.”
Even when responding to any potential detractors, though, Thurman remains in good spirits on this day, still luxuriating in all the local love he received over the weekend.
“It was a beautiful experience, man,” he says of fighting on his home turf for the first time in more than five years. “I’m just happy to do it for my city, happy to get the victory that I had. I’m looking forward to bringing home more fights—and staying champion of the world.”
Soon, the conversation draws to an end.
“Things keep moving,” Thurman says, himself among them.