WBC president: Thurman-Barrios is an official bouncer, not final

Keith Thurman and Mario Barrios will have more work ahead of them regardless of who has the upper hand in their upcoming clash.

BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the upcoming February 5 showdown between former titlists will not serve as a definitive title eliminator. The bout will come with WBC penalties, but no guarantee that the winner will have a clear shot at united WBC/IBF welterweight titlist Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs).

“It’s an official WBC [eliminator], not definitively,” Mauricio Sulaiman, former WBC president, told Boxingscene.com to clarify the matter.

Rumors that Thurman-Barrios would serve as the final eliminator came from Thurman (29-1, 22KOs) himself, who suggested the same thing during the most recent segment of the Instagram Live-based “Time Out With Ray Flores” series.

“It may not have been announced — it seems like you’re a bit unaware,” Thurman told Flores. “But the WBC approached me for a weight check. And I said, why is the WBC approaching me for a weigh-in? I don’t have the WBC title. Mario Barrios does not have the WBC title. They have no right to check my weight. Unless this fight is a title eliminator, which I knew had a slim chance of being in the books.

“If it hasn’t been fully announced yet. This is my way of announcing it. They came at me. If they want to stop checking my weight, you know, if they’re going to do something else, they’re going to do something else. But everything in boxing is done for a reason. And I know the only reason the WBC can request something like that weeks before a fight… is because this fight is going to be a 12-round title eliminator for the WBC.

Thurman wasn’t quite wrong, though he was misinformed about what was at stake for the winner.

Sanctioning authorities usually approve fight requests to serve as elimination bouts, often as a means of putting fighters one step closer to competing for the title. Only when the WBC or similar organizations declare a fight as a final eliminator is when the winner can expect to face the reigning title holder next time.

That’s not the case here, which could bring some relief to fans and even several media outlets have seen two fighters defeats that are now one win away from a title shot.

Thurman has not fought since a split 12-round defeat of Manny Pacquiao to Manny Pacquiao in their WBA welterweight title consolidation in July 2019. The fight sparked a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. , with Thurman-Barrios taking place on the same platform of the nearby Michelob ULTRA Arena.

Barrios (26-1, 17KOs) makes his welterweight debut, just after his own first loss.

The former secondary WBA junior welterweight titlist suffered three knockdowns in an eventual 11th round stoppage against undefeated rising star Gervonta Davis last June 26 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. San Antonio’s Barrios — who weighed in at 122 ¼ pounds in his pro debut in November 2013 — had spent more than four years in the 140-pound division after a brief sojourn at lightweight. The effort of making 140 was too much for his growing 5’10” frame, which led to a switch to welterweight.

The decision paid off for Thurman, a former unified WBA/WBC welterweight titlist who searched several names for his first fight in more than 30 months. The decision to go with Barrios was prompted by his bragging rights about the best record in the ring and the reputation of proposed opponents.

Whoever wins on February 5 will need to win at least one more fight to reach the mandatory position in the WBC rankings. Streaking contender David Avanesyan remains first in line to compete in a final title eliminator.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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