Keith Thurman Has Something To Prove Against Josesito Lopez
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: January 22, 2019
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - This upcoming weekend at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York fans will be witness to the long-awaited return of former unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs). Thurman has been missing in action due to various injuries for almost two years and will be facing veteran contender Josesito Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) in a twelve round welterweight bout.
At this time the Florida native holds the super version of the WBA welterweight title after having to relinquish his WBC title due to his extended absence from the squared circle. Future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao currently holds the regular version of the WBA title making his first defense last weekend winning a wide unanimous decision over Adrien Broner.
While Thurman has been out of the ring, the landscape of the welterweight division has changed slightly. The arrival of one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound in Terence Crawford took place in June 2018 when he won the WBO welterweight title from Australia’s Jeff Horn. The division’s supposed boogeyman Errol Spence Jr. won the IBF welterweight title in June of 2017 and made two successful title defenses in 2018. Spence will be making the third defense of his title against four-division champion and current lightweight champion Mikey Garcia this upcoming March in Texas.
In September 2018, Shawn Porter won the vacant WBC welterweight title when he defeated Danny Garcia by unanimous decision-making a possible rematch between him and Thurman possible in the near future.
The time spent outside of the boxing ring has hurt Thurman’s stock in the public arena as many have taken his moniker of “One Time” to mean that he fights only once a year. Boxing like sports, in general, is about what you have done lately. Since Thurman has been out of the ring, the narrative has become that he is either scared or unwilling to fight the best the welterweight division has to offer. No longer is he viewed as the fan favorite who once famously yelled at Paulie Malignaggi during a post-fight press conference not to duck him.
Fans have taken a negative stance against Thurman for not wanting to immediately step back in the ring with the elite in the welterweight division after an almost two-year layoff. Taking time out of the ring can have its benefits such as healing fully from injuries and reinvigorating your passion for the sport. However, taking too much time out of the ring can make fans forget about you and because the welterweight division is one of the best in boxing fans have not missed Thurman as much as they should have.
At welterweight, Thurman has one of the better resumes among the current crop of champions. If you were to count Thurman’s interim title defenses of his WBA title that he won from Argentina’s Diego Chaves in July 2013 he has made seven title defenses including becoming the unified WBA/WBC champion. Thurman’s title defenses include victories over Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and Luis Collazo.
When Thurman steps into the ring against Lopez, he will be making his fourth appearance at the Barclays Center. He is currently 3-0 in the arena and will be facing a fighter who may be getting the final title opportunity of his career. The former unified champion holds victories over Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Jan Zaveck at the Barclays Center.
Josesito Lopez is best known for being in exciting action-packed fights. The Riverside, California native’s most impressive performance may have come against Victor Ortiz in June 2012 where he came in as a massive underdog and ended up breaking Ortiz’s jaw in the ninth round forcing the bout to be stopped. Lopez has also been in the ring with world champions such as Saul Alvarez, Marcos Maidana, Andre Berto, and Jessie Vargas.
Lopez at age 34 is taller than Thurman with the same 69-inch reach. The fighter known as The Riverside Rocky will not be in the ring to play the role of opponent for Thurman. What may hurt Lopez against Thurman is that he has not been that active in the past few years. Since losing to Andre Berto in 2015, Lopez fought once in each subsequent year (2016, 2017 and 2018).
Lopez’s strategy could be to jump on Thurman early not allowing him to get out any rust he may be feeling. Fans may remember when Thurman faced Jesus Soto Karass in December 2013 where he was buzzed and hurt by the Mexican in the first round. Should Lopez attempt to employ similar tactics early, he also runs the risk of getting hurt himself. But if there were any time to take a risk, it would be against a rusty fighter.
In Thurman’s case, he will be looking to make a statement against Lopez to show the welterweight division that he is still one of the best in the weight class. The Florida fighter may want to go a few rounds with Lopez to help alleviate some of the rust he will have, but it will depend on how Lopez chooses to attack him.
Thurman-Lopez is somewhat of a crossroads bout for both men. If Thurman comes out victorious, he will move on to continue his ascension back to the top of the welterweight division. If Lopez wins, there will be a plethora of possible fights for the California fighter. No matter who comes out with their hand raised in victory, Thurman-Lopez should prove to be an exciting match up however long it lasts.
Thurman-Lopez will be shown live on FOX on Saturday, January 26, 2019, at 8 pm ET.
(Featured Photo: Stephanie Trapp/TBG Promotions)