Unbeaten welterweight contender Keith "One Time" Thurman said he is looking forward to establishing himself as the "Beast From The East" when he meets two-time lightweight titlewinner Julio Diaz on April 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
"I'm going to show them that I'm truly the 'Beast From The East,'" said Thurman, a 25-year-old from Clearwater, Fla. "This is my dream. I'm really looking forward to entertaining the world of boxing."
Thurman-Diaz is the main event of a Showtime-televised tripleheader that will also feature THE RING's number one-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse against rugged lightweight puncher John Molina and WBC lightweight titleholder Omar Figueroa Jr. opposite spolier Jerry Belmontes.
"Camp is great. This will be my fourth camp preparing for 12 rounds. It's just getting easier. My weight is on point; my diet is on point. Everything is going well. My whole gym is impressed with what I've been doing and I feel great. I'm looking forward to it. I'm motivated to being the main event and headlining on April 26," said Thurman, in an interview with RingTV.com.
"With this being the headliner, that makes me passionate. Knowing that I have a bright future after a great performance, that's what motivates me. I'm really looking forward to watching the undercard with Lucas Matthysse and Omar Figueroa. I just can't wait to get into the ring and display my talents again on April 26."
Thurman-Diaz comes amid a run of intriguing fights in the 147-pound division.
Shawn Porter defends his IBF belt against former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi on the April 19 undercard of the light heavyweight title unification bout between IBF beltholder Bernard Hopkins and WBA counterpart Beibut Shumenov.
On May 3, Floyd Mayweather Jr. defends his RING and WBC welterweight championships against WBA counterpart Marcos Maidana, supported by a clash of 147-pounders between ex-beltholders Amir Khan and Luis Collazo. Mayweather-Maidana also includes a 140-pound bout between Carlos Molina and Adrien Broner, the latter of whom was dethroned as WBA 147-pound titleholder following a unanimous decision loss to Maidana in December.
"I'm looking forward to all of the fights that are about to occur this month and all the way up to the May 3 card. There's a lot of great welterweight competiton going on. I call what is about to happen the first chapter," said Thurman.
"I'm really looking forward to the end results of the first chapter of the year and looking forward to stepping into the second chapter of the year and hoping that I get a fight with a top-10 fighter that I think that I truly deserve."
Thurman (22-0, 20 knockouts) scored a ninth-round technical knockout over veteran gatekeeper Jesus Soto Karass, who was floored once each in the fifth and final rounds of their bout in December. In his previous bout last July, Thurman scored a 10th-round knockout of previously unbeaten Argentine Diego Chaves, whom he dropped once each in the ninth and final rounds.
Although the 34-year-old Diaz (40-9-1, 29 KOs) is 0-2-1 in his past three fights, those bouts were a draw and a unanimous decision loss against Porter and a close decision setback to Khan.
In succession, Diaz drew with Porter in December 2012, floored Khan in the fourth round in April of last year and was outpointed in September by Porter, whose next bout was a unanimous decision that dethroned Devon Alexander in December.
Diaz has been working out with WBO welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley in advance of Bradley's April 12 rematch with Manny Pacquiao, whom Bradley dethroned by splitdecision in June 2012.
Diaz said that he believed he can break down and finish off Thurman during an interview with RingTV.com.
"I'm one of the most highly-underrated fighters in the division, if not the sport. But I don't care. You can continue to put me into a box that I don't fit into. Soon, you're going to realize that I don't fit into that box and that I'm on a completely different level. I'm an entirely different pedigree of fighter. But everyone can make their judgements based on what they see. They've only seen a fraction. I've been boxing for 18 years," said Thurman.
"All you can do is watch one performance at a time and see what I do under the bright lights. Julio Diaz has never seen a Keith Thurman in the ring. He knows nothing about me or what he needs to do to prepare for me. But I like any fighter who steps into the ring with confidence. I want someone with heart, integrity and an ego. Someone who is passionate enough to come in and try to pull the upset against me because it's not going to happen."