On Saturday, WBA ‘super’ welterweight champion Keith Thurman earned a majority decision victory over Josesito Lopez at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The fight marked the undefeated Thurman’s return to the ring after a near-two-year layoff due to injury.
Thurman vs. Lopez – Fight Recap
The fight began with Josesito Lopez coming right at the champion, forcing Thurman to employ a movement-heavy style. Thurman would have success countering Lopez’s aggression early on, dropping him late in the second round with a well-timed left hook. “The Riverside Rocky” would survive the round and continue to press Thurman with his Mexican-style attack, walking through some hard shots in the process.
In the seventh round, Lopez would land a hard left hook right on the button which hurt Thurman badly. Lopez followed up the shot with a relentless assault, tagging “One Time” multiple times (see what I did there?) throughout the rest of the round, but the experienced Thurman was able to stay composed just enough to escape the round. Throughout the rest of the fight, Lopez kept up the pressure in pursuit of a knockout, but he was unable to corral the fleet-footed champ.
I scored the bout 115-111 for Keith Thurman. Lopez had Thurman hurt more than I’ve ever seen him hurt (he was actually really close to at the very least dropping Thurman, if not stopping him), but overall he was just outclassed by his younger, more athletic opponent. Official scores were 113-113, 117-109 for Thurman, and 115-111 for Thurman.
Although Thurman (29-0) made a few mistakes in this fight and was unable to score a knockout of his own, he still came into the fight in good shape, went twelve hard-fought rounds, and proved he still has the same counter-punching skills that made him a champion. The long layoff was definitely a factor, but I believe Thurman underestimated Josesito Lopez’s toughness and heart. Though he may not have fought the smartest, most calculated fight, Lopez fought with a chip on his shoulder and put on a great performance for the fans.
After the fight, Thurman gave credit to his opponent and called out WBA ‘regular’ champion Manny Pacquiao, stating that he would be willing to go to Pacquiao’s home country of the Philippines for a fight with the legend.
On the undercard, the undefeated Adam Kownacki (POL) moved one step closer to a heavyweight world title shot (presumably against WBC champion Deontay Wilder) with a second round TKO win over former title challenger Gerald Washington (USA). Also on the night, Tugstsogt Nyambayar (MNG) won a WBC featherweight title eliminator with a unanimous decision win over Claudio Marrero (DOM).
Other Notable Fight Results
- Jaime Munguia UD12 Takeshi Inoue
- Can Xu UD12 Jesus Rojas
Calling out Manny Pacquiao after the fight made sense for Thurman, as the 40-year-old Pacquiao represents the biggest name on PBC’s (active) roster and currently does not have a specific opponent penciled in. Right now is, in my opinion, Thurman’s best chance to get that fight. Looking vulnerable against a huge underdog like Lopez certainly helps.
Thurman could also look to unify with the winner of Spence vs. Garcia (for the IBF belt) or go after a rematch with WBC titlist Shawn Porter, who faces Yordenis Ugas in March (though Thurman would probably opt to take another tune-up fight in those two scenarios).
Did Keith Thurman get exposed, or was it ring rust and a strong showing from Josesito Lopez? How does he fare against Manny Pacquiao if they fight next? Comment below with your opinion.