by Sean Crose
“The Boogeyman of the welterweight division.”
That’s what television analyst Mauro Ranallo referred to hard hitting Keith Thurman as on Saturday night’s live Showtime card.
Indeed, Thurman hasn’t been known for getting a lot of top level opponents lately. Although there’s no proof, some suspect that Thurman is truly feared amongst his peers (the same can be said of middleweight terror Gennady “GGG” Golovkin).
Undefeated Italian Olympian Leonard Bundu was Thurman’s foe on in Vegas on Saturday. The guy may not have been a premiere attraction in American, but he was no joke, as Bundu’s immaculate professional record indicated.
Bundu was down from a Thurman blow less than two minutes into the first. To his credit, the Italian got up and managed to look fairly sharp. Still, the round belonged to the man they call “One Time.” Bundu started as the aggressor at the beginning of the second, but Thurman managed to aim, fire and land at will – hard.
Things reached a rhythm. Bundo used skilled movement, but Thurman landed regardless. By late in the fourth, however, fans started booing. When was the last time that happened during a Thurman fight? Sadly, the bout ended with boos. It simply wasn’t a thrilling battle. Thurman cruised, but Bundu was proficient enough not to fall to pieces.
That made for a tough night for Thurman – at least in a certain light.
Frankly, I thought the guy looked decent. Heck even Mike Tyson didn’t knock out everyone on the way to the top. When expectations are as high as they’ve been for Thurman, though, some level of disappointment can be seen as inevitable.
“He came to not get knocked out,” Thurman (24-0, 21 KOs) said of Bundu after the decision of the judges went massively his way (120-107, 120-107, 120-107).
He may have been right. Still, the crowd booed throughout Thurman’s post fight interview regardless.
“Boy, the fans are fickle aren’t they?” Showtime’s Brian Kenney asked. Yes Brian, they sure are sometimes.
Yet Thurman-Bundu wasn’t the main event. That throwdown was reserved for Amir Khan and Devon Alexander, two welterweights who – fairly or not – have been marginalized, thanks to the bigger names that dot boxing’s premiere division.
It was an interesting matchup, frankly, between two talented men a hairsbreadth away from boxing’s Hollywood treatment.
The question for fans, however, was if the fight would be any good.
Well, it certainly wasn’t bad. Then again, Khan doesn’t really have bad fights. He’s lost on some memorable occasions, but he’s never been boring. Indeed the lack of respect the guy’s been getting over the past year or two is truly stunning.
Long story short: Khan looked terrific.
The guy was fast. Lightning fast. Accurate, too.
Picture Manny Pacquiao employing circular foot movement rather than angles and you get the general idea. Alexander got some shots in, sure, but the fight was all Khan, from the opening bell to the final one.
People who don’t want to be impressed with “King Khan” won’t be impressed. Those who allow themselves to see, however, should take note.
Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) fought brilliantly on Saturday night. His wide decision victory–119-109, 118-110, 120-108–was well deserved.
Showtime analyst Paulie Malignaggi probably summed Khan up best. “I think he’s a very difficult proposition against any boxer,” the feisty New Yorker said of his former foe.
Amen to that.
For the first time in ages, Showtime presented a card with good matchups on Saturday. No one can guarantee good fights, but networks should strive for the best matchups possible. Showtime execs – and superadviser Al Haymon – should take note. For the network has a deep well of talent.
It’s time to employ that talent accordingly.
The fans will be appreciative – and their gratitude will probably be seen in the ratings.