The two beasts danced across the ring, moving together.
They were quick and fast, and they were playful, and they were well-conditioned. The Big Champion and the Little Champion.
Keith Thurman (26-0) would reach down and pat the head of the pit bull, and then he would dance away. And Little Champion would come bounding after. Keith would duck his head, dodging in and out, teasing and taunting.
Finally, Little Champion, the one-year-old dog, laid down and rolled over on his back.
And Thurman was victorious again.
It was Wednesday at the St. Petersburg Boxing Club, a media day for Thurman for his June 25 fight against Shawn Porter. And right in the middle of his workout, in front of all of the cameras, the man-and-dog show had broken out. And sure enough, Thurman plans to treat Porter, well, like a dog.
Thurman talked about the car accident that has postponed this fight, and he talked about Muhammad Ali, and he talked about Porter, and he talked about the evolving Welterweight Division. He talked about unifying titles.
“This fight is about who is the next superstar,” Thurman said.
“For me, it’s almost like a dream come true. It’s surreal. I remember at an early age in boxing saying, ‘I want to be the guy that brings boxing back.’ I’m really blessed to be where I am in my career. For all the fighters who could end up on this stage, I’m proud that I’ve been chosen.
Porter, an old sparring partner of Thurman, looms as the toughest fight that Thurman has had.
“We’ve always known that Shawn Porter was going to come into this fight in tremendous shape. That’s what his training methods are all about. But the Energizer Bunny has never been hit by Keith Thurman, and I’m pretty sure I could stop it in its tracks.
“I’m going for the knockout. I’ve stated it before. My hands are itching for a knockout. I’m ‘One Time,’ all the time. That’s my philosophy. Every single time I step into the ring, I’m looking for the knockout. We don’t get paid for overtime.”
He is 27 now, and he has been around boxing for 20 seasons. He has one championship belt (the WBA) and wants more.
“I want to be the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. That’s my ultimate goal. There have only been so many in the history of boxing. I want to be a part of that history.”