Al Haymon has long been accused of being a negative presence in the boxing world. He holds a disproportionate amount of power and is often the purveyor of many shocking mismatches that pollute the sport across the pond.
Yet his ability to open doors for his fighters that are bolted shut for most other boxers could draw comparisons with Houdini.
However, his fighter Keith Thurman can’t seem to escape the tedium of fighting opponents who are several tiers below his talent level. So far that career defining fight against a top level opponent has proved as elusive to Thurman as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
If Haymon fighters often seem to be the beneficiaries of the big fights then Thurman is the exception to the rule.
Aside from Floyd Mayweather Jnr, Thurman is perhaps the most naturally talented fighter managed by Haymon. Yet while Mayweather is the omnipresent force at the top of the food chain, Thurman must be content with feasting on mediocre opposition in relative obscurity.
Lack of challenges
Even fighters such as Jesus Soto Karass and Diego Chaves have gone onto big fights despite being outclassed by Thurman, who knocked out both men in 2013. Karass recently fought former two division world champion Devon Alexander. Chaves will do battle with Tim Bradley in December.
In comparison, Keith Thurman has gone backwards. Despite stating repeatedly that he will fight anyone at 147lb, a third round knockout of a past his sell by date, Julio Diaz, is the fruits of his labour in what must be a hugely frustrating year for the Florida native.
When previous vanquished opponents of Thurman seem to have greater prospects for career progression than him, he could be forgiven for thinking he is the victim of a boxing conspiracy.
His predicament begs the question, why is he being deliberately denied the opportunities for world titles by Haymon that seem so plentiful for other, less talented technicians, such as Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner? To compound the curious case of Keith Thurman, he plies his trade in the most talent rich, and Al Haymon-dominated division in boxing - but still, he cannot entice any top ten welterweights into the ring.
Many people claim that he is just too dangerous for his own good. The familiar rhetoric of a fighter being ‘high risk-low reward’ is routinely trotted out in the case of Thurman. But it seems there is something more sinister about the situation: he is kept under heel intentionally by Al Haymon.
Why is he being so flagrantly undermined by his own manager? Maybe Al Haymon sees Thurman as the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather and is keeping Thurman on the chains until Mayweather retires next September.
If this the stratagem of Haymon, then Thurman must shake off the shackles right now. Thurman, who has knocked out 21 of his 23 opponents, turned professional in 2007. Nearly approaching 26, he simply cannot afford to allow himself to stagnate any further while his manager plays some high stakes waiting game with his career.
Thurman is ready for the big fights right now. In fact, he is long overdue a shot at a world title. Boxing is a short career, and Haymon’s procrastination is stealing precious time for him to shine.
It is time for Thurman to call the bluff of boxing bogeyman Haymon by threatening a high profile defection to bitter rivals Top Rank unless he gets big fights right now.
Haymon holds the keys to the best fights. If ‘One Time’ Thurman is denied entry to the elite any longer then he must emulate Houdini and escape from the handcuffs Al Haymon has put on his career.
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