“To Be Here Today Sacrifices Were Made … It’s My Time To Rise Back Up” | Keith Thurman Fights For Black History

Image Credit: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions

Tonight, Keith “One Time” Thurman returns to his first fight week in nearly three years, coinciding with Black History Month’s start.

Thurman, the former unified world welterweight champion, takes on former super lightweight world champion Mario Barrios in the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View main event tonight from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The pay-per-view also features four-division champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz dueling Keenan “Bedo” Carbajal in the co-main event of the four-fight lineup.

Thurman Reflects

To kick off Black History Month, Thurman took a moment to pen an open letter to fight fans ahead of his ring return.

“Today is February 1, and as I look towards fight week, I am feeling a little bit of every emotion,” Thurman said. “I feel excitement. Anticipation. A little bit of angst. A little bit of nerves.

“This is the start of Black History Month. In America, you grow up writing tons of essays in school, getting to learn about all the great ancestors before us. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, George Washington Carver. Black history, like any ethnicity, brings pride. Not pride in an egotistical sense, but pride in those who have set great examples for those to come. ”

The Ancestors

“That resonates with me, especially looking at all the ancestors who set a great example for me in my life, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., for believing in the dream.

“Being raised in America, no matter what color your skin is, you can’t force people to look at you a certain way, but you can look at yourself a certain way. You can hold yourself up to the highest degree as a man or woman, and you can do your best to make your mother and father, as well as your ancestors, proud.

“To be here today, sacrifices were made. It’s made me aim higher – the next generation should continue to always aim higher.”

Not The End

“It’s my time to rise back up. I always go into fight week with a whole lot of passion. Fundamentally, I look forward to getting in the ring and doing my job. Seeing the fans. Hearing the people roar. And, all the things attached to fight week, including a terrific meal after I get off the scale.

“Fight week is the last week but it’s not the end. It’s not over until it’s truly over. The journey is complete when the performance is said and done, and our hand is held high.

Keith Thurman Returns To Boxing To Face Mario Barrios Feb. 5

“This is my time — our time — to continue the example that our ancestors set for us.”

Thurman is aware of the impact a return during Black History Month is for his career. As the welterweight division continues to wait for Spence vs. Crawford, former champions like Keith Thurman are fighting for their relevance after dominating the division for years.


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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.