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Clearwater’s Keith Thurman seeks another belt in his collection

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Champion of the world here. Champion of the world there.

Unbeaten fighter here. Unbeaten fighter there.

Hungry athlete here. Hungry athlete there.

And so it is that history awaits Clearwater boxer Keith Thurman, whose next test is March 4 against Danny Garcia in New York. For Thurman, it mght be his toughest challenge yet. Garcia is 33-0 and the WBO champion. Thurman is 27-0 and WBA champion.

For a lot of boxers, being the champion is the goal. For Thurman, he wants more than one belt, so there is no argument.

“Ever since I was a kid I remember this book I got on boxing history,” Thurman said Wednesday. “I was somewhere around 10 years old. I just remember thinking “One day, I would love to be in a book like this.” Becoming a champion is one way of getting a legacy for yourself.

“But there have always been champions in the sport of boxing. There have been fewer unified champions. There have been even less undisputed champions. Just knowing the history and the significance of what it means to unify. That’s my ultimate dream.”

Said trainer Dan Birmingham: “It’s huge for Keith. He’s going to go down in the history books.”

The Thurman-Garcia match will be only the third between unbeaten welterweights in history, the first since Oscar De La Hoya fought Felix Trinidad in 1999.

“Pressure?” asked Thurman. “There is no pressure. I remember coming from the streets. There were times I was happy to have one pair of shoes. Now I can go to the Mall and buy any shoes I want. My job has been the same since I was seven years old.”

Thurman  said he thinks he is the smarter fighter. Stronger, too, said Birmingham.

He’s also fairly ambitious. He said he sees this fight as the door to bigger and better things.

“My goal is just moving on up,” Thurman said. “Separating myself from the others in the welterweight. The winner on March 4 will get spotlight priority over all the others, and he’ll deserve it. I have a level of confidence.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit [email protected]

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