Keith Thurman is a former unified welterweight champion who had eyes for an aging Floyd Mayweather back in 2015.
Mayweather, 37 at the time, fought Manny Pacquiao that year and then Andre Berto before moving away from boxing until he took on UFC star Conor McGregor in 2017.
Thurman had just become the WBA welterweight champion and was targeting Mayweather.
Instead, a young Errol Spence Jr came knocking at his door and Thurman believes Mayweather orchestrated the call-out to duck him.
“When he [Spence] got a W that night [against Phil Lo Greco in June 2015], a little birdie named Floyd told him to say my name,” said Keith Thurman to Fighthype about how his problems with Spence first started.
“Why? There are multiple reasons why a fighter in his position at the time would call a fighter that is already in the limelight. So what was it really about?
“It was the changing of the narrative. Right now, we’re talking about the narrative of Thurman and EJ and what’s all happened. But before Thurman-EJ, what was Thurman’s narrative?
“I was on Floyd’s back. When I fought Diego Chaves, I became the interim WBA champion. My mandatory would have been Floyd.
“So when EJ [Spence] first said my name, it wasn’t you. It was someone else [Mayweather?] that told you to do. Why didn’t you just call out Mayweather?
“He was still top and an active fighter. I thought it was very reflective; the boy [Spence] was only 16-0. I always thought there would be a good fight one day in the future.”
It makes sense that Thurman would have been looking at those top fights instead of any up and comers making their way up. He had earned a seat at the table with an interim title and had an unbeaten record of his own.
If Thurman had fought Spence Jr then, would it have been worth as much money to either man?
“But why would I look down [at Spence] when I was trying to get a Floyd fight back then? I was trying to get a Pacquiao fight back then when I was 26-years-old.
“Instead, I had to take what was coming to me, which was Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero and all these other fights,” said Thurman.
“We need fighters like Errol Spence to fight fighters like Keith Thurman; we need that. But we also need people to know what type of fight it is when it is.
“If you do that fight [Thurman vs. Spence] early, people aren’t going to fully understand the magnitude of that fight.
“My whole objective was me vs. Pacquiao, and then Thurman-Spence. Do you think if Pacquiao got defeated, Spence would be fighting Pacquiao at this moment?”
As Thurman mentioned, Spence Jr does have a date with Manny Pacquiao on August 21. Pacquiao is the only man to ever defeat Thurman and he did so via a split decision in July 2019.
But, Thurman did beat the likes of Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter and would still be a big name fight for the winner. The Mayweather ship has sailed – intentionally if you ask Thurman – but fighting Spence Jr is still a very real prospect.