Four of the top coaches in the sport, Robert García, Derrick James, Stephen “Breadman” Edwards and Ismael Salas, previewed the upcoming showdown between former heavyweight champion Keith “One Time” ” Thurman and former ultralightweight champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios during a virtual media roundtable on Tuesday leading up to Saturday night, Feb.
Thurman vs. Barrios will lead the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View PBC match from Michelob ULTRA Arena at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, with pay-per-view TV programming starting at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
Ticket for the live event, which TGB Promotion promotes, is currently discounted and available at axs.com.
Here’s what coaches have to say on Tuesday:
“Mario Barrios is a young boxer who wants to be great. He doesn’t have paydays like Thurman, which gives him a big opportunity. He knew that a win here would change his life. I have a lot of fighters from San Antonio like Barrios, and I know he’s a very dedicated fighter, always training. He will do whatever it takes to win this fight.
“Barrios is gaining weight, which is a challenge, but he is big and tall enough to be able to do even better as a light person. I think he has a great chance of beating Thurman.
“Thurman hit really hard, so Barrios had to apply smart pressure. He couldn’t reach his punches, and he had to make sure he raised his hand. I consider this a close fight that will go far. I think Barrios will win this war. I can see a split decision.
“Thurman has excellent experience and has participated in many world-class matches. He has to go out there and be himself. He couldn’t get caught up in Barrios’ game plan. He has to use his angles and find his punches.
“When Mikey Garcia retired for two and a half years, he was still not a big name and was still very hungry and always in the gym. When he came back, he came back strong. Thurman has made millions of dollars and that can put you at ease. We will find out how dedicated he is because those big salaries can change your work habits. “
“You have to have an extensive training camp to fight ring rust. When Errol Spence Jr played against Danny Garcia, we worked on many things, and one of them was strengthening his sportsmanship. One of the keys to Keith’s success has always been his sportsmanship. He’s going to need that, and it’s only fleeting.
“This fight will depend on what kind of fighter Thurman is using and whether Barrios can pressurize. I think this will be a good fight and it will go a long way.
“Keith Thurman boxed smartly, but what kept him in the ring was his mobility. We’ll be able to see how intense his training camp is.
“Thurman will have to adjust the pace of Barrios. I think there will be a bit of pressure for him to catch up with the boxer who is gaining weight. There was pressure on every soldier, but I also knew that Thurman wanted to silence his critics.
“I think this fight is about pressure. I believe Barrios must be fierce. He had to make sure Keith Thurman wasn’t himself. Thurman is great if you let him be great. If Barrios can break Thurman, that will be to his advantage. If he let Thurman sit back, Thurman would box phenomenally. ”
“Thurman moves, but his movements are not so efficient. He glides around the ring and jumps in and out with big hits. If Barrios fights with the type of fighting he’s putting pressure on Thurman, he’ll have plenty of success. You have to step up to Keith Thurman. If you give him space, you give him a chance to load up with his punches. I think Barrios will win this war.
“When Julian Williams was cut by Jermall Charlo with that big hit, I split that up for him. I told him he played a great game, and you have to credit the opponent. I let him fight without a helmet the first time he fought, so he knows I trust him.
I also sent him out to fight Gennadiy Golovkin, so he could see that anyone could get such a cut. Barrios was stopped by Gervonta Davis, but it wasn’t the end of the world for him. How the boxer bounces from that doesn’t depend on what kind of person you are. He seems like a guy who can put that behind his back.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if both of you were injured in this fight. There may be some controversy in this fight.
“I think there is a lot of pressure on Keith Thurman in this fight. Thurman entered the match against Manny Pacquiao thinking he would have that name on his way to superstardom. Losing that war is going to hurt the ego. The pressure on Barrios is because no young boxer wants to lose two consecutive disputes and then draw the line. Thurman knows there’s a big fight for him if he can get past Barrios, which brings pressure.
“The boxers don’t admit it, but there’s a different kind of hunger when the fighters are working towards that goal. It’s different once you get it. Even in Thurman’s prime, he only fought once a year. Boxing is a game of skill, and you build skill with repetition. You don’t get better if you don’t do it for a long time. I think that will make this fight more competitive than people think.”
“The most important thing in sport is longevity. It’s a highly coordinated sport and you have to be explosive. To stay high in that category. Rusty rings are something you have to deal with.
“You have to control the intensity of the work to keep a more experienced fighter. But at the same time, you have to keep your boxing abilities high. Those reactions need to be sharp.
“I believe the best chance Thurman had was in the fourth to sixth innings with a stoppage-time goal. If it goes the distance, I think it’s a close decision for Barrios. If Thurman can control the tempo of the match, he can win.
“I work with a veteran boxer in Erislandy Lara, we don’t have a date for his next fight yet, but we have been working three times a week for the past two months. Because we’re maintaining his ability and stamina, that’s how to deal with ring rust when you’re later in your career.
“I believe that Thurman lost the fight against Manny Pacquiao because he lost the ability to control Pacquiao’s aggression. He was there before Manny Pacquiao, and Pacquiao got him early, and that changed the whole fight.
“Drastic is the way to defeat aggression. Barrios needs to keep a strong front in this fight, with his stabs, and also the coordination of those punches. “