He is the undefeated, unified welterweight champion and one of boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighters.
What Keith Thurman won’t be after this week is one of boxing’s most eligible bachelors.
Thurman, 28, from Clearwater, Fla., will quietly tie the knot on the other side of the planet Friday. He is in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he will exchange vows with 24-year-old Nepalese beauty Priyana Thapa.
Thurman has been recuperating from right elbow surgery in April.
He met Thapa last October in a Tokyo nightclub, where she was working, and it didn’t take long to realize they had something special between them.
“Outside of the ring, I’m just a person, very humble, down to earth, and that’s the way I appeared to her,” Thurman told USA TODAY Sports by phone from Kathmandu on Wednesday. “On our first date it was her birthday. And I said, ‘Allow me to celebrate your birthday with you.’ I just wanted her company, and I felt complete. I was honest with my feelings, and I thought, ‘There might be something here and I want to see it through.’ ”
Ironically, Thurman said she told him before she really knew who he was that “on a personal level she would never date a guy with long hair or who was an American. I had to break those taboos,” Thurman said. “She didn’t know who Keith Thurman was until after our first date, until after the chemistry was through the roof.”
Thurman returned to Tokyo a month later for his birthday. “We went down to the Maldives to spend a week together to make sure the chemistry was going to stay alive,” he said. “From there I came back to the U.S. to prepare for the Danny Garcia fight, so I didn’t see her for four months.”
After he defeated WBC champ Garcia in March to unify the titles, Thurman returned to meet Thapa’s parents and tell them his intentions.
Thurman wouldn’t say exactly how he asked Thapa to marry him, saying, “I was nervous, man. I’ve never been one to think about marriage a lot, but I just found the right girl. … I feel it’s an OK time to open up that chapter and just mature. In a few years I’ll be open to having kids, maybe two years,” he said. “I never wanted kids in my 20s. I was selfish and I wanted to live out my 20s, but now it’s like a gift. I never thought it would happen, but it just did. After our first date she stole my heart, and I told myself that as the fighter I am, I’ll fight for this girl as well.”
So Friday, Thurman and Thapa, who speaks English, Nepalese, Hindi and Japanese, will be married at a “decent four-star hotel. She set up everything,” Thurman said. “The real purpose of getting married in Kathmandu is, one, so her family knows she is married, she has a husband, a man that loves and appreciates her. The other reason is after the ceremony and after the courthouse gives us our papers, I’ll take it to the U.S. Embassy and I will file for the marriage license to bring my wife back to the United States.”
Thurman said there will be another wedding ceremony after they return to Florida.
As for rehabbing his elbow, Thurman said, “It’s definitely a slow recovery. I understand now why the doctor told me it was going to take six months. I thought I was going to be able to ice it and three months (after the surgery) I’d be back in the gym, right? It’s not that simple.
“I have to admit being here’s not helping it. I could be getting better treatment in the U.S. Right now I’m just doing the daily exercises I’m supposed to be doing. I do believe it should come back around the time the doctor originally said. When I return to the U.S., I will be flying into New York to get assessed by the doctor.”
Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) still expects to return to the ring in early 2018.
“If I’m real lucky, I might be able to be active in December,” he said. “There may be a tuneup in the near future. At the end of the day, we’re not negotiating or thinking about fights right now.”