By Mark Elezaj
Keith “One Time” Thurman returned Saturday night from a near two-year layoff to retain his World Boxing Association welterweight world title with a 12-round majority decision over Josesito Lopez.
Thurman, who has not fought since his victory over Danny Garcia back in March 2017, showed no sign of ring rust from the opening bell, knocking Lopez down with a left hook to the chin in the second as he controlled the early part of the fight. It looked as if Thurman was on his way to a easy victory until Lopez landed a big shot in the seventh round.
Lopez was able to hurt Thurman with a straight right hand to the chin. As Thurman backpedalled to the ropes, Lopez became more aggressive, letting his hands go, landing hard rights and lefts throughout seventh round.
Thurman, however, was able to withstand the barrage of punches while moving around the ring, defending the onslaught from Lopez. Thurman was able to stay on his feet and somehow survived the round.
Thurman came out in the eighth round strong, stopping Lopez’s momentum while taking back control of the fight.
“The champ is back!” said Thurman, who had to surrender his World Boxing Council due to an injury but retained his WBA “super” world title with his victory over Lopez. Thurman improved his record to 29-0 with 22 KO’s.
“He had me buzzed, he had me shaken up,” Thurman said. “I was trying to stay on the outside. I just was a little off in my prediction of his long arms and the way that he was lunging in, willing to really swing and commit for the knockout. He was coming for me.”
Unofficial CompuBox stats had Thurman landing 130 more punches overall (247-of-899 to 117-of-513) compared to Lopez, landing 68 more power punches (168-of-372 to 100-of-357) and 62 more jabs (79-of-527 to 17-of-156).
“I was disappointed I couldn’t finish him and get him out of there,” Lopez said. “If he thinks he’s the best welterweight out there, then I want two through five lined up for me.”
Thurman said he warned everyone that he would not be at his best for this fight after the long lay-off, but he was happy that he did not reinjure his hand injury during the fight.
“My hand took some contact tonight,” said Thurman.
“Lopez had a tough head but we held out strong. I said you wouldn’t see the best Keith Thurman tonight, but you’d still see a world class performance, and I gave you that tonight.”
With his victory Saturday night, Thurman reasserted himself in the already stacked welterweight division with Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
Thurman said he is interested in fighting Pacquiao next, a fight that could be made fairly easily now that Pacquiao fights under the PBC banner.
“I would most likely definitely take the Manny Pacquiao fight this year,” Thurman said. “I feel good. That was a beautiful fight. I’m ready to fight wherever Pacquiao wants it.”
Pacquiao has said if he can not land the Mayweather rematch, he is open to fighting any of the other top fighters in the division and Thurman is one of them.
~The Fighting Voice~