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Is Keith “One-Time” Thurman on Borrowed Time?

By: Kirk Jackson

Keith “One-Time” Thurman 29-0 (22 KO’s) successfully defended his WBA super welterweight belt via majority decision over Josesito “Riverside Rocky” Lopez 36-8 (19 KO’s) after almost two years on the sidelines.

Taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Thurman returned to the ring for the first time since beating two-division champion Danny Garcia in a unification bout in March 2017. Since earning victory via split decision, elbow and hand injuries kept the Thurman from competition.

Although “One-Time” emerged victorious in his 12 round defense of the Super WBA welterweight title against Lopez, he endured problematic moments from the rugged challenger.

“He had me buzzed, he had me shaken up,” Thurman admitted. “I was trying to stay on the outside. I just was a little off in my prediction of his long arms and the way that he was lunging in, willing to really swing and commit for the knockout. He was coming for me.”

“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.”

While the most important aspect is securing victory by any means, Thurman did not resemble a prime version of himself. This equation includes a mixture of different variables and Lopez should be credited for his efforts of attempting to snatch Thurman’s coveted undefeated mark. But with this recent representation of Thurman, the question begs is he on borrowed time?

Entering the bout off a 22 month layoff, rust was to be expected. Although Lopez was selected as a tune-up, he is an extremely tough if not undersized competitor at welterweight. The trainer of Lopez, Robert Garcia, is one of the best trainers in the world and if we consider the variables, the result is not shocking.
The scores of 115-111, 117-109 and 113-113 in favor of Thurman were shocking. Although Thurman clearly won the fight and was expected to dominate upon his return, the wide margin of one of the scores does not truly reflect the story of this encounter.

Injuries and rust aside, Thurman is firmly planted as one of the key figures in boxing’s glamour division. With a re-emerging Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao 61-7-2 (39 KO’s) serving as subsidiary to Thurman’s Super WBA welterweight title, a bout between the two may be an option for Thurman in the near future.

“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.”

As intriguing as a bout against Pacquiao sounds, a match-up against either one, if not both of his same-generation contemporaries, appears as a recipe for blockbuster success and acclaim amongst the fans and reporters of the sport.

The two elephants in the room are none other than IBF welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence 24-0 (21 KO’s) and WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford 34-0 (25 KO’s).

Speaking of his contemporaries leading into his fight against Lopez, Thurman had this to say:

“Keith Thurman No. 1, Errol Spence No. 2 and everything else is debatable,” Thurman informed reporters after a pre-fight press conference. “I’ve said it many, many, many times, I don’t give ‘Bud’ Crawford any credit at 147 yet. He hasn’t gotten any credentials off of me.”

Ideally, the obstacles preventing these highly desired match-ups from manifesting can be wedged at the appropriate time (sooner rather than later).

Thurman mentioned recapturing his WBC title – which means he’ll be in pursuit of the winner between Shawn “Showtime” Porter 29-2-1 (17 KO’s) and Yordenis Ugas 23-3 (11 KO’s).

While pursuing unification with the WBC, that places unification of the IBF and WBO titles and most importantly, bouts between Thurman and Crawford or Thurman and Spence on the back-burner.

As we progress through 2019 for Thurman’s sake, it would be nice to see him return to form and to witness more activity from a healthy fighter. Which equates to more matches and against top level opposition being as he is a world champion.

As Thurman resumes this phase of his career as champion, and now has greater understanding as to what it means to be the hunted, with a huge target on his back, is he on borrowed time?

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