Ex-world welterweight champion Keith Thurman has faced criticism for facing a former Gervonta Davis victim on his Pay Per View return.
The one-time unified ruler at 147 is back in action for the first time since losing against Manny Pacquiao in July 2019. Thurman battles Mario Barrios on February 5.
But some fans are unhappy at Thurman choosing a fighter who just lost to Gervonta Davis and making supporters pay extra for the privilege.
Reacting, Thurman said: “I’m happy to be here. It’s a blessing, and I’m looking forward to this return. It’s been a long time coming.
“I’m not injured anymore, and I feel great. I’m excited to perform for the fans in Las Vegas once again.
“It’s not ideal to have a layoff as I had, but you just have to roll with things in life. I’ve spent a lot of time meditating and prioritizing different things.
“Now the date is set, and I can’t wait to get back in action. I truly love this sport.
“I was given a few options for opponents. Once I heard Barrios had an interest in it, I knew that he was coming off an exciting fight and that I wanted to make it happen.
“Once Barrios was on the menu, I was ready to take him.
“There’s always pressure to be great. That pressure makes diamonds. Fighters like Barrios and like me, we want to shine.
“We take that pressure and everything coming our way. That’s the path of the warrior. There’s so much beauty in it. Our hearts pump better when we take those challenges head-on.”
On returning from being humbled by a 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao, Thurman added: “There’s no test better than a Keith Thurman test.
“You don’t step to Keith Thurman if you don’t want to make a name for yourself at 147.
“We have two fighters coming off of losses, which means we both have to prove ourselves. The time is now.
“Talk about the past if you want, but on February 5, new stories will be created.
“In 2019, I fought Manny Pacquiao because that was the most exciting thing I could do then. Once I’m comfortable in this return, I’m coming for greatness.
“We know we’ve fallen from the ladder, and we’re looking up.
“That’s okay because we’re going to take it one step at a time to get back to where we were, in the top spot of the welterweight division.”
Concluding on being written off after Pacquiao, Thurman stated:
“The fire has been burning inside me my whole life. It doesn’t matter what we’re competing in.
“When you’re in this sport, you’re in it to win. You have to be. That competitiveness is natural for me. No matter how long I’m off, I’m thinking about boxing.
“I’m here to prove that I’m not the kind of fighter that you can write off. The cream is going to rise to the top.
“I might have fallen, but you best believe I’m going to rise again. This year is about doing what I have to do to be at the pinnacle of the division.”
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