The talent of unbeaten Keith Thurman, with 21 knockouts in 24 victories, has cried for a greater stage.
He gets it Saturday night at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, fighting former two-division world champion Robert Guerrero in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions' debut card on NBC.
"I've wanted to fight Robert Guerrero for a long time -- he just comes to fight -- so having it happen on this stage, I feel my career starts Saturday," Thurman told the Los Angeles Times in a telephone interview.
The bout against Gilroy, Calif.'s, 31-year-old Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 knockouts) is for the World Boxing Assn. welterweight title.
Premier Boxing Champions is the creation of powerful boxing manager Al Haymon.
“It’s always a blessing to be fighting on a big stage,” said Guerrero, who lost to
Guerrero's personal story of stepping away from boxing years ago to help his wife, Casey, survive a cancer battle remains moving.
Thurman's path from Clearwater, Fla., is inspiring too, and he said matching his well-known power against a sophisticated fighter is "a challenge. I've been telling the whole world I want to challenge my skills, test myself against the upper echelon of fighter, and Robert Guerrero is that."
Thurman was taught boxing from the age of 7 by the late Benjamin Getty, who worked previously with PBC color commentator
"All we've been doing is fine-tuning the skills from the earlier years," Thurman said. "I'm dedicated to living out my dream. I'm a young kid living out the American dream, doing exactly what I set out to do."
Guerrero said he's equipped to fight wherever the bout takes him. He can box, but he chose in a defining 2012 victory over former welterweight champion Andre Berto in Ontario and last year's decision over Japan's Yoshihiro Kamegai in Carson to go toe-to-toe.
"One thing I know for sure is I'm going to dictate my game plan," Guerrero said. "We can bang or we can box. It don't matter. I can do either or."
Nicknamed "One Time," for his punching power, Thurman said, "I would love to be able to make the statement" that he has a bigger punch than Berto and Kamegai. Guerrero has never been stopped.
"If I'm not able to put on the Keith 'One Time' Thurman performance and be who I want to be, I'll still do whatever it takes to hang onto that title.
"But I am looking for an early night.