Boxer Keith Thurman is Looking to Show He’s Still Elite After Long Layoff

WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman will defend his belt against Josesito Lopez this weekend after a nearly two-year layoff.

Updated: Jan. 24, 2019 • 12:56 PM ET


Keith Thurman (left) will return to the ring this weekend.

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will host a WBA welterweight title fight this Saturday, as undefeated champion Keith Thurman will defend his belt against worthy contender and veteran Josesito Lopez.

Thurman will defend the belt for the fourth time since winning the title by unanimous decision against Robert Guerrero in 2015. He most recently defeated Danny Garcia by split-decision in a close fight in March 2017, which unified the WBA and WBC titles.

Thurman hasn’t fought since the Garcia fight (roughly 23 months), as he has dealt with injuries. Due the injury layoff, Thurman vacated the WBC belt; nevertheless, the 30-year-old feels ready leading up to Saturday’s fight.

"I feel great physically,” Thurman said via Premier Boxing Champions. “We're working really hard and just getting back into everything we did before the injury. It feels tremendous and I'm so happy to be able to do this back in Brooklyn. January 26, you will see the return of the number one welterweight in the world.

"I need to come back and stay active and healthy. I'm going to remind everyone this year why I'm one of the baddest men on the planet. At the end of the day, I'm here to make a statement that 'One Time' is back.

"I have one belt, and I'm missing one belt. I'm going to re-establish my own accomplishments this year, then go from there. We're taking it one fight at a time. Right now my eyes are set on Josesito Lopez.

"I'm a world-class fighter. I've fought through injuries my whole career. A real fighter ends up getting addicted to the game. There's nothing better in this life than being under those lights and being part of the action.

"My legacy is not over. Unification against Danny Garcia was not enough for me. Ultimately, I'm just waiting to be presented with a man who is better than me. There might not be one, but I'm not afraid to let my '0' go.

"I need fights like this against a guy like Josesito Lopez. He's going to be there and give the fans a great fight. He's coming to take me out. He looked like he was in shape a month ago when I first saw him.

"It's been a long time and I'm truly honored to be back. It's been hard for me to not be in the ring while I wait for the elbow to recover. I'm so happy to be back."

Including the narrow win over Garcia, Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) has other notable victories over Shawn Porter, Luis Collazo, Robert Guerrero, Leonard Bundu and Julio Diaz. Thurman, a Clearwater, Fla. native, has only shown signs of improvement with each fight, but he hasn’t scored TKO since 2013 and can’t look past a hungry challenger on Saturday.

Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) is riding three straight victories, most recently defeating Miguel Cruz by unanimous decision in April. His last loss came to Andre Berto in 2015 and with his wealth of experience, he’s no stranger to title fights. Lopez, who is looking to win his first major title at 34 years old, has competed against some of the sports’ best, including Berto, Marcos Maidana, Canelo Alvarez, Victor Ortiz and Jessie Vargas.


Co-main event

Saturday’s co-main event will feature a heavyweight bout between Adam Kownacki and Gerald Washington.

Twenty-nine-year-old Brooklyn resident Adam Kownacki is undefeated and coming off a unanimous decision victory over Charles Martin in September. The Barclays Center has become a second home to the Polish fighter, as he looks to continue his climb up the heavyweight ranks and add to his 18-0 record.

Washington (19-2-1, 12 KOs), a former title challenger, is coming off a unanimous decision win against John Wesley Nofire in June.

A WBC featherweight title eliminator will also be on the card between Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Claudio Marrero. Mongolian fighter Nyambayar is 10-0 with nine knockouts and coming off a knockout victory over Oscar Escandon.

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