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Knockout specialist Keith Thurman stars in StubHub card

BoxingFloyd Mayweather, Jr.Oscar De La HoyaClearwater (Pinellas, Florida)

Keith Thurman has had 20 knockouts in 22 fights, which is eye-grabbing by itself, and now he’ll have a Showtime and StubHub Center main event audience to boost his reputation.

Thurman, a 25-year-old from Clearwater, Fla., will fight Coachella Valley veteran Julio Diaz on Saturday night in a welterweight bout that could springboard him into the conversation as Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s next opponent.

“This victory itself, I don’t know that it puts me into the Mayweather conversation, but being a top-10 welterweight puts me there,” Thurman said.

Mayweather, a heavy favorite to defeat Marcos Maidana on May 3 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, will likely choose a welterweight promoted by Golden Boy Promotions for his opponent in a September pay-per-view event.

It might be Luis Collazo, should he defeat Amir Khan on the May 3 undercard. If Khan wins that fight, he said he believes commitments for the Islamic month of Ramadan will prevent him from fighting in September.

That could leave Shawn Porter, who won the International Boxing Federation welterweight belt Saturday against Paulie Malignaggi, or Thurman as Mayweather's opponent.

The 34-year-old Diaz (40-9-1, 29 knockouts) is seen by Thurman as a “measuring stick” opponent, considering that Porter never knocked down Diaz in two fights -– a December 2012 draw and a September 2013 victory by decision.

Khan didn’t knock him down either, although he got knocked down himself by Diaz in a 2013 victory by decision.

Thurman, meanwhile, knocked out rugged veteran Jesus Soto-Karass in December, and has also beaten Carlos Quintana.

“My job is to look as good as I possibly can every time,” Thurman said. “Julio Diaz has been giving fighters stiff competition. I look forward to making a statement, I plan on making him see that canvas.”

The StubHub card also features the return of hard-punching light-welterweight Lucas Matthysse (34-3, 32 KOs) against Covina’s John Molina (27-3, 22 KOs) and unbeaten Omar Figueroa (22-0, 17 KOs) taking on Jerry Belmontes (19-3, 5 KOs) for the vacant World Boxing Council lightweight belt.

Fight promoter Oscar De La Hoya says Thurman’s standing as a “relentless knockout artist who’s fun to watch” makes him a viable Mayweather candidate.

“This is one fighter fans should keep an eye out for if they want action and their money’s worth,” De La Hoya said. “Being up against Diaz, he’s fighting a guy who knows how to box, get you out of your game plan, very crafty. Keith Thurman tries to annihilate.”

De La Hoya said Matthysse-Molina is a “sink or swim” fight in that division following Matthysse's surprising loss to Danny Garcia in September.

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