Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) is back, and the sports world is for the better because of it. Pacquiao will battle Keith Thurman(29-0, 22 KOs) on Saturday, July 20, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
After how he looked in January when he defeated Adrien Broner by unanimous decision, forty may just be a number to Pacquiao, but Thurman will be a much tougher opponent for Pacquiao. Thurman, unlike Broner, is a guy who throws punches and will be more willing to trade with Pacquiao, but according to one of Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, he wouldn’t be surprised if Thurman became Pacquiao’s fortieth knockout victim.
“If Thurman comes straight in and goes after Manny, which I think he will, he is going to be cooked,” Roach said. “Chef Manny will be serving him up on a platter like Lobster Thurmandor.”
Thurman, 30, did not look very sharp back in January when he beat Josesito Lopez. However, he was away from the sport for two years due to injury, so rust is understandable.
Can Pacquiao continue to turn back the clock against Thurman or will Thurman show the world that there is a new guard at 147? We shall see!
Photo credit: Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions
Last Saturday night in Brooklyn, we saw the return of WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman after 22 months away from the ring. The 30-year-old Thurman was out dealing with injuries(elbow, hand). While Thurman was able to get by Josesito Lopez by majority decision, he was not very sharp, and quite possibly a couple of punches away from getting stopped by Lopez in the 7th-round.
However, Thurman survived, and now he moves on. What’s next for Thurman? He did talk about the possibility of fighting Manny Pacquiao, or even the winner of Shawn Porter-Yordenis Ugas, who will battle for Porter’s WBC welterweight title in March.
According to Showtime boxing analyst Paulie Malignaggi, Thurman should possibly fight another tune-up before going after the big boys at 147.
“Probably, another tune-up would work better for him,” Malignaggi said.
Listen to complete interview with Malignaggi.
Photo: Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions
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, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.
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.
“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.”
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.
“He had me buzzed and shaken up in the seventh round, but I tried to stay on the outside,” said Thurman. “I was a little off in my prediction of how long his arms were. He lunged in and was really willing to commit to the knockout.”
“I definitely thought I held my own in that fight,” said Lopez. “I had him hurt in the seventh round and I was landing a lot of clean shots on him.”
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.
“I was disappointed I couldn’t finish him and get him out of there,” said Lopez. “If he thinks he’s the best welterweight out there, then I want two through five lined up for me.”
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, 115-11 and 113-113.
The victory sets up Thurman for many possible marquee matchups against top welterweights, including eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao.
“I would most likely definitely take the Manny Pacquiao fight this year,” said Thurman. “I feel good. That was a beautiful fight. I’m ready to fight wherever Pacquiao wants it. Either way, I will be back later this year. Believe that.”
Photo: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions
Welterweight world champion Keith “One Time” Thurman discussed his anticipated return to the ring as he nears his showdown against Josesito Lopez that headlines Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes Saturday, January 26 from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.
PBC on FOX and FOX Deportes action begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and features unbeaten Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki battling former title challenger Gerald Washington, plus unbeaten featherweight contender Tugstsogt Nyambayar taking on hard-hitting Claudio Marrero in a 12-round bout.
Thurman will return to action on January 26 from a long injury layoff after his most recent fight saw him unify welterweight titles by defeating Danny Garcia in March 2017 at Barclays Center. Here is what Thurman had to say about his return, Josesito Lopez and more from his training camp at the St. Pete Boxing Club in St. Petersburg, Florida:
How has training camp been going? Have there been any adjustments because of the injury?
“Training camp has been going well. It was a little bit of a slow start after so many months out of the ring, but I’m feeling great as we get closer to the fight. I’m starting to feel more and more like a world-class athlete again. It’s a good feeling working this hard and it reminds me what it’ll take to continue being the champion.”
Do you anticipate any ring rust? Do you think it will be more difficult to feel like yourself physically in the ring, or mentally trusting the injury is healed?
“I don’t think ring rust will be an issue. The only thing that even if this may not be the best Keith Thurman that people have ever seen, we’re focused on getting better and much stronger with each fight. But make no mistake, people will see one of the best welterweights in the world on January 26 at Barclays Center.”
When did you start to feel like you were turning the corner physically? Were you ever worried you wouldn’t be healthy enough to fight?
“You always have to be a little worried about new injuries. There’s nothing wrong with your car until the day it decides to break down. So at the end of the day, it’s always in the back of my mind. I run a lot of miles, so I wonder about my knees. I wonder about my shoulders also. Athletes and their bodies go through a lot of things. But here I go getting right back into things and I’m totally ready to showcase my talents on January 26.”
What kind of challenges does Josesito pose? What makes him a difficult opponent for you coming off a layoff?
“Josesito is experienced. He’s a busy fighter with good reach. He likes to mix it up and force his opponents to fight. He also has a new coach in Robert Garcia now, and I know he has a lot of confidence in his abilities. Josesito has been through ups and downs in his career, but he’s back on an upswing at the moment. Then he pinpointed me and called me out. So I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
What are you looking to show in this fight? How do you control your emotions and make sure you don’t press too much?
“I’m going to show my versatility in the ring. I’m going to show Josesito what it’s like to be in the ring with me. He might think it’s just all about my power, but I’ll show him what none of his sparring partners could. I’m going to show everyone the full package of skills I bring and enjoy every second of it.”
How do you see this fight looking stylistically?
“I like to let my opponent show me how the fight is going to go. I’ve thought many times that my opponents would do something specific, but then they do something totally different in the moment.
“I’m just prepared for any version of Josesito. I’m ready for him to come at me with punches in bunches, but I’m also ready if he wants to try box more and work behind his jab. I don’t think there’s anything that he’s going to do that I won’t be able to dominate. I’m going to move, trade on the inside, whatever it takes and we’ll see which road to victory looks the easiest.”
Photo: Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions