WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman returned to the ring and defended his title with a majority decision victory over veteran contender Josesito Lopez Saturday night in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes from Barclays Center.
In his first fight in 22-months after elbow and hand injuries, Thurman started fast, landing a clean left hook on an exchange that put Lopez on the canvas with 15 seconds left in the second round. Thurman continued to move effectively and pick out power shots to Lopez’s head.
Lopez tried to crowd the space, attack the body and then use his length to surprise Thurman with power shots. In round seven, Lopez connected with a straight right hand that hit Thurman cleanly and had him immediately in retreat mode.
Lopez poured it on throughout the seventh round, but Thurman was able to do enough to survive the round. Lopez continued to come forward in the ensuing rounds, but Thurman was careful to continue his circular movement, while also landing big power shots to the head.
Thurman ended the fight landing 247 punches to 117 from Lopez, and held the advantage in accuracy by landing over 27 percent of his punches to 23 percent from Lopez. Lopez’s increased activity in the closing rounds helped him narrow the deficit on the scorecard, but in the end, the majority decision went to Thurman by scores of 117-109, 115-111 and 113-113.
The victory sets up Thurman for many possible marquee matchups against top welterweights, including eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao.
“”I feel good. That was a beautiful fight. I would most likely definitely take the Manny Pacquiao fight this year,” said Thurman.
“Maybe Brooklyn, maybe Vegas, wherever Manny Pacquiao wants it. I’d even fight him in the Philippines if I have to.”Either way, I will be back later this year. Believe that.”