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Area boxers pulling for local Thurman in big Pacquiao bout

Clearwater native Keith Thurman will fight eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao in what is expected to be one of boxing’s biggest events of the year.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — One of Tampa Bay’s own is ready for his moment in the international spotlight. 

On July 20th, Clearwater-native Keith "One Time" Thurman will fight eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao in what is expected to be one of boxing’s biggest events of the year. 

On Wednesday, Thurman held an open workout for members of the media in his hometown.

“Florida summertime is good training weather,” said Thurman, who takes the WBA Welterweight Super Champion title into his fight with Pacquiao. “Dreams do come true and I’m proof of it.”

Thurman, at 30 years old, holds an undefeated record of 29-0, with 22 wins by knockout.

“How bad do you really want it? What are you willing to sacrifice to get what you want in life? Everything requires some form of sacrifice,” said Thurman on Wednesday during his workout at St. Pete Boxing Club. “It’s sacrifices (that) will get you where you need to go in life. It might be a hard road, you might have doubts, ‘Will I ever make it, can I really make it?’ Surround yourself with the right people, get people that believe in you and, even when doubt enters your mind, you’ve got to dig deep within your own soul, deep inside your consciousness, and overcome that feeling.”

Meanwhile, his gym mates can’t wait to root for their training partner when he steps in the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“Keith is the big brother of this gym, he used to pick me up and personally train me himself,” said Noriel Small. “It’s definitely an excitement, it’s definitely a big fight for him, it’s one of his biggest fights, if not the biggest fight, of his career right now.”

For other local fighters, watching their training partner get ready for the world stage gives them a sense of pride in their friend, pride in their gym and pride in their city.

“Even when he goes running, I went running with him on the trails, people know Keith Thurman, ‘Keith! Keith!’, they’re yelling out his name, it’s crazy,” said Brian “Bad Boy” Meadows. “It’s like a Rocky thing when Rocky’s running, and everyone is saying ‘Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!’”

“It’s awesome just because I know him and I’ve worked with him and sometimes I’ve sparred with him,” added Edner Cherry. “We chill together and laugh together and then seeing him in a big fight, it’s awesome, man, it’s amazing.”

And, no matter what happens in his fight with Pacquiao, Thurman knows his hometown will always be in his corner.

“I’m gonna do my best not only to make my city proud, not only to make my mother proud, my father proud, but like the Tampa Bay Lightning,” Thurman added. “They might have the lightning, but ‘One Time’ got the thunder.”

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