Former world champion Keith Thurman returns to the ring for the first time since July 2019 when he takes on Mario Barrios as he begins his comeback at welterweight.
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Thurman’s last fight came against Manny Pacquiao, where he lost on splot decision, while Barrios fought most recently at 140lbs in June last year. There he was knocked out by Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis in the eleventh, and he moves up from 140lbs in search of a return to winning ways.
The best fights are those in which two fighters with a compelling mix of styles meet, both with questions to be answered. That’s the kind of fight set for Saturday night (9 p.m. ET, FOX PPV) when Keith Thurman and Mario Barrios meet in a big welterweight clash.
Thurman (29-1, 22 KO) had established himself as one of the top names in a talent-loaded 147-pound division, grabbing the WBA championship before adding the WBC belt to his collection when he beat Danny Garcia in a March 2017 unification bout. The win over Garcia came one fight after a massive win over Shawn Porter, setting Thurman up as a true elite welterweight.
That was nearly five years ago.
Since the Garcia fight, Thurman has only found himself in the ring twice. First came a shoulder surgery in May 2017. Then a planned January 2018 date never came together and a May 2018 date fell apart when Thurman suffered a “deep bruise” on his hand. Thurman finally returned to the ring in January 2019, fighting something of a tune-up against Josesito Lopez as talk of a showdown with IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. was in Thurman’s future.
While the Spence fight didn’t come together, Thurman did land the biggest fight of his career. Thurman faced off with the legendary Manny Pacquiao in a July 2019 showdown that saw the Filipino legend edge out the split decision victory.
Reckoning with his first career loss and more lingering physical issues, Thurman has not been in a professional fight since the loss to Pacquiao and has to answer the questions surrounding multiple long layoffs, ring rust and whether he still has it in him to be an elite fighter in one of the deepest divisions in the sport.
“A lot of things that have happened, they are not ideal. They are not something you put on your to-do list,” Thurman told CBS Sports. “Let me not be in the ring for two-and-a-half years. Let me have elbow surgery. Let me have bone fusion surgery. These are things that manifested in my life and struggles that I faced. But hurdles are put there to jump over and overcome. I feel great at age 33. I might have missed two years of my prime but luckily we are still in our prime.”
Barrios (26-1, 17 KO) is adding depth to the division, moving up from junior welterweight. Like Thurman, Barrios is coming off the first loss of his professional career, a June 2021 war with Gervonta Davis in which Barrios was stopped late in Round 11. The loss cost Barrios his secondary WBA title at 140 pounds.
Barrios is seven years younger than Thurman and three inches taller, but he has a thin frame, making him less of a natural welterweight than his opponent despite the advantage in height and reach.
So, where the question for Thurman is whether time and rust have knocked him from the welterweight elite, the question for Barrios is whether he’s a welterweight at all.
Here’s everything you need to know about Thurman vs. Barrios.
WHEN IS THURMAN VS. BARRIOS TONIGHT?
Date: Saturday, February 5
Main card: 9 p.m. ET / 2 a.m. GMT
Main event ringwalks (approx): 12 a.m. ET / 5 a.m. GMT
The main card is set to get underway at 9 p.m. ET / 2 a.m. GMT with the main event ringwalks scheduled for 12 a.m. ET / 5 a.m. GMT. As ever with live fight nights, these timings could change.
WHAT CHANNEL/STREAM IS THURMAN VS. BARRIOS TONIGHT?
U.S.: Fox Sports PPV (Price: $74.99)
UK: Fite TV (Price: $9.99)
Fox Sports PPV will air the fight in the U.S. where fans will have to pay $74.99 to watch the fight, UK fight fans can find Thurman vs. Barrios on Fite TV for $9.99.
WHERE IS THE THURMAN VS. BARRIOS FIGHT TONIGHT?
The fight takes place at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
KEITH THURMAN RECORD AND BIO
Nationality: United States of America
Date of Birth: November 23, 1988
Height: 5′ 9.5″
Total Fights: 30
Record: 29-1 (22 KOs)
MARIO BARRIOS RECORD AND BIO
Nationality: United States of America
Date of Birth: May 18, 1995
Height: 5′ 10″
Total Fights: 27
Record: 26-1 (17 KOs)
THURMAN VS. BARRIOS FIGHT CARD
Keith Thurman vs. Mario Barrios; Welterweight
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Keenan Carbajal; Super featherweight
Jesus Ramos vs. Vladimir Hernandez; Super welterweight
Luis Nery vs. Carlos Castro; Super bantamweight