Just when Keith Thurman thought he’d gotten through the toughest night of his pro life, it got worse.
The unbeaten welterweight prospect was bleeding from the nose and found himself behind on the scorecards for much of the showdown with fellow unbeaten fighter Diego Chaves, but his most memorable struggle didn’t arrive until shortly after he’d finished the rugged Argentine less than 30 seconds into Round 10.
It was then, while being interviewed in the ring by Showtime’s Jim Gray, that the ebullient Floridian chose to return the love directed his way by an appreciative crowd at a raucous AT&T Center—and quickly saw it disintegrate into a moment appropriate for a Southwest Airlines spot.
The problem with his gratitude?
While his heart was in San Antonio, his head was off by about 1,300 miles.
“I want to thank this city right here, San Diegooooo!” he said, drawing audible groans from the crowd and a quick interjection from Gray, who pointed out the mistake to the sheepish visitor.
“San Antonio. My bad, baby. My bad. I love San Antonio. This is my first time here. I'm a foreigner. This is a beautiful city. Thank you for coming out. Thank you for the support.”
Thurman, 24, a native of Clearwater, Fla. and client of the trainer (Dan Birmingham) who steered former world champions Jeff Lacy and Winky Wright, had scored 18 KOs in the initial 20 victories of his nearly six-year pro career—all of them coming in six rounds or less.
He was less successful at the outset against the 27-year-old Chaves, who controlled the early rounds with a smart left jab and occasionally strafing shots to the body. Thurman rallied in the middle rounds as the pace slowed and began taking over with his own body shots, one of which resulted in a knockdown in what turned out to be the penultimate round.
The end came early in the 10th, when Thurman landed punishing left hands to the body and head and then an overhand right that drove Chaves to his knees. Referee Luis Pabon reached the count of seven before officially waving it off as a TKO at the 29-second mark.