Keith Thurman uses a swimming analogy to explain how he’s avoided drowning in attention.
“My feet are wet, I can swim in the pool,” he says of the increased media coverage and heightened demands for his time as his status has risen over the past couple of years. “Pretty soon, I’ll be ready take a bigger and deeper dive.”
That plunge begins when Keith Thurman (25-0, 21 KOs) cannonballs into Luis Collazo (36-6, 19 KOs) on Saturday night in Tampa, Florida, in the debut of Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
For Thurman, it’s another big stage after he pounded out a blood-flecked victory over Robert Guerrero on NBC in March in boxing’s return to network television.
In a way, it’s a dream come true for Thurman, being on the verge of stardom in a sport he’s loved since he was a boy.
But the pressures of success can quickly turn those dreams into nightmares.
Thurman readily acknowledges that there’s been a learning curve as his public persona has blossomed—with his fan-friendly style and outsize, idiosyncratic personality acting as Miracle-Gro for his profile within the sport.
“Just walking around sometimes, I see more lights, more cameras. They’re including me in more of the action,” he says. “It comes with the territory. I’m not the first fighter that this has happened to. If I want to be a world-class fighter, these are some of the things that I need to get used to.”
It’s all a long way from Thurman’s entry into the sport in his native Florida, where he was a little dude with a big punch.
“When I was kid, I boxed for fun,” he says. “Then when I turned pro, I was trying to put food on the table like everyone else.
“Now, it’s hit a whole other level,” he continues. “You’ve got to make appearances. I come out to more professional events, trying to stay out there, enjoying the fact that I’m one of the few hot topics in the world of boxing right now.”
Thurman’s still getting adjusted to the notoriety that he speaks of, as all those lights and cameras begin pursuing him like he does the other guy in the ring.
“It was a little but more challenging than I thought it would be,” he says. “But then again, it was just as fun as I thought it would be as well. There’s experience inside of the ring and there’s experience outside of the ring. We’re gaining both.”
For complete coverage of Thurman vs Collazo, visit our fight page.