KEITH THURMAN was last seen losing to the legendary Manny Pacquiao in 2019. On Saturday (February 5) he returns to fight Mario Barrios at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

It’s a perfectly reasonable comeback match, though surprisingly Fox have decided to screen it as a pay-per-view.

Barrios boxed to a good level at super-lightweight but is coming off a loss after Gervonta Davis moved up to the division and stopped him in 11 rounds.

Thurman will be looking to show he can add another element of excitement to the top end of the welterweight division, a weight class that’s in danger of stagnating as the fight that needs to be made – Terence Crawford versus Errol Spence – isn’t getting made.

“Coming off the Pacquiao fight, it just didn’t excite me to come back without fans. I love my fans. I love the sport of boxing. I could have done it for the activity, and perhaps, in retrospect, it would have been good to be in the ring. But while the activity would have been good, the excitement wasn’t appealing. I was financially stable, didn’t need the money, and desired to make meaningful performances and meaningful fights in the welterweight division. 2022 has presented more opportunities to me and my career; at 33, I’m young, willing, and able, and it’s time to get back,” Thurman explained.

Thurman will surely be rusty and his explosive best might still be some way off. He should have too much for Barrios but could be taken the distance here.

“I’m in this sport to fight the best. There’s never been a name that I’ve turned down. I want to keep testing my abilities and prove to everyone that I belong. That’s why I picked such a difficult fight for my welterweight debut,” Barrios said. “It’s a dream come true for me to be in this position. I’ve stayed patient, stayed focused and stayed disciplined. Now I have the opportunity to make a name for myself at welterweight.

“Every time I step into the ring I bring that intensity and determination. You’re going to have to hit me with something crazy to get me out of there. I’m always going to keep on coming. I’m in there to do whatever I can to come out victorious.”

Leo Santa Cruz will also box on the undercard, against Keenan Carbajal and Luis Nery meets the 27-0 Carlos Castro.