Coach Cunningham Believes Stakes Are High For Tszyu and Thurman

Kevin Cunningham believes that both Keith Thurman and Tim Tszyu’s legacies could be impacted by their upcoming fight.

Thurman and Tszyu face each other on March 30 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Amazon Prime pay-per-view.

Cunningham currently trains junior middleweight contender Erickson Lubin. In the past, he has worked with Adrien Broner and Devon Alexander and during a conference call to promote the upcoming pay-per-view, Cunningham shared the following insight about what the contest means for Thurman.

“For Keith Thurman, he is on the back-end of his career,” said Cunningham. “I wouldn’t think he would want his legacy to end with a fight like this. Like I said, [Thurman] could totally revive his career and bounce back in a major way with a win like this. It does a lot for his legacy.”

Though Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) is billed first on the poster, he is the underdog with the oddsmakers. Thurman has been inactive, only boxing once since the COVID-19 year of 2020. That fight was against Mario Barrios on pay-per-view. 

Inactivity has been the theme of the second-half of Thurman’s career. He defeated Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia – became arguably the best welterweight post-Floyd Mayweather at that time, and then nothing. 

Then came three fights. A lackluster performance against Josesito Lopez ended in a majority decision win for Thurman. Then there was a loss to Manny Pacquiao and a return against Barrios. Thurman, despite having accomplished a good deal in the middle part of the last decade, is now at a crossroads. He has mentioned fighting Terence Crawford in the future but he must defeat Tszyu to get there. 

Cunningham sees this fight as a gateway and one that could land a legacy fight for Thurman. 

“Especially moving forward, [if he were to win] because there are a lot of big fights,” said Cunningham. “Like Terence Crawford. That is what you call a legacy fight.

Conversely, Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs) is the son of boxing legend Kostya Tszyu and beating Thurman well would allow him to sniff the pound-for-pound rankings and it could signal his arrival as a breakout star. Some might believe wins over Brian Mendoza and Tony Harrison have already done that, but an impressive victory over Thurman makes the statement unavoidable.

“For Tim Tszyu, he is young, fresh, strong, he has to just keep winning,” added Cunningham. “Every win right now helps move to a potential great legacy like his father had in the past.

“The fight is important for both guys.”