Keith Thurman Plans To “Make A Statement” Against Lopez
By: Sean Crose
“I feel great physically,” says Keith Thurman. “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” Thurman, of course, is talking about his upcoming bout against well known vet Josesito Lopez at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, in a PBC match that will be aired live on Fox. Thurman, who hasn’t fought since he defeated Danny Garcia via split decision in March 2017, will be defending his WBA super world welterweight title.
“I need to come back and stay active and healthy,” the 28-0, frequently injured fighter says. “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.” With fighters such as Errol Spence, Bud Crawford, Manny Pacquiao, and Shawn Porter occupying the welterweight division, Thurman is eager to reassert himself. “My legacy is not over,” he says. “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.”
Lopez, 36-7, a well regarded warrior, would be happy to oblige Thurman by giving him his first loss. “I’ve been in this position before,” says Lopez, “and I’ve never shied away from big battles. This is another big one and I’m going to be ready for it and become world champion.” Thurman certainly won’t be the first big name Lopez has faced, for Lopez has also shared the ring with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Andre Berto, Marcos Maidana, Jessie Vargas, and Victor Ortiz. “I’m sure Keith Thurman is as strong and skilled as anyone I’ve ever faced, Lopez says. “He’s undefeated for a reason. I give him his respect for that. I’m preparing for him to be the best fighter I’ve ever faced.”
Lopez certainly isn’t letting Thurman’s time out of the ring impact his mental and physical preparation for the fight. “No matter how active Thurman has been,” he says, “the importance of this opportunity doesn’t change. If anything we might see a better and healthier Keith Thurman than we’ve seen in years. I’m expecting the best Keith Thurman there is.”
PBC on FOX Results: Lopez Dominates Cruz, Dirrell Puts on a Clinic
By Eric Lunger
Tonight on FOX, Premier Boxing Champions presented a triple-header from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, TX. In a classic crossroads matchup, veteran Josesito “Riverside Rocky” Lopez took on undefeated prospect Miguel Cruz of Puerto Rico in a ten-round welterweight clash. Coming off a productive training camp with Robert Garcia, Lopez (35-7, 19 KOs) was looking to jump start a career that had begun to slip sideways, while undefeated prospect Miguel Cruz (17-0, 11 KOs), fighting in his fourth ten-rounder, was looking to make a statement in the glamorous and deep 147-pound division.
The first round was a professional, exploratory round, with both fighters doing some reconnaissance by jab. Lopez began to push the action in the second, but Cruz countered accurately. Cruz fights with a classic high guard, and he used his jab effectively, but Lopez landed some good, short left hooks.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions Twitter Account
In the third, Lopez continued to be the aggressor, and though he did not have much success getting through Cruz’s defense, it was the kind of aggressive round that can sway a judge. Lopez found a new gear in the fourth, landing better shots and starting to take control of the fight. As the middle rounds ticked by, Lopez found his rhythm, getting inside Cruz’s jab, while Lopez was unable to disrupt the Riverside fighter’s attack. Cruz also lost a point on a low blow, after two warnings.
The sixth round opened with another point deduction for a low blow, as Cruz was trying to answer back by going to the body. Lopez went on to dominate the round, while Cruz seemed unable to adjust his game plan at all. The Puerto Rican fighter began to raise his activity level in the seventh, but Lopez continued to apply pressure and to land effect shots from a variety of angles. The eighth and ninth rounds were more of the same, as Lopez continued to push, and Cruz could not mount an effective counter to Lopez’s continual pressure.
In the final frame, Cruz showed some desperation, but Lopez dug deep, and confidently continued to attack. Overall, it was an impressive performance by Lopez, who earned the unanimous decision: 99-89, 99-89, and 98-90.
In the co-feature, former middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell (31-1-1, 24 KOs) looked to continue his climb back into contention in the 168-pound weight class. His opponent, El Paso native Abraham Han (26-3-1, 16 KOs) came into the bout riding a three-fight win streak, but Dirrell marked a significant step up in class.
In the first round, Dirrell used his jab to find the range, catching Han with a couple of solid rights. Han fought off his back foot, looking to counter, but he seemed to let Dirrell find the range too easily, at least in my view. Dirrell ended the round with a clubbing right hand on the side of Han’s head, dropping the hometown fighter at the bell.
Han looked sloppy to start the second, while Dirrell calmly and patiently probed for an opening. In the third, Dirrell continued to stand in the middle of the ring, controlling the fight with his jab. Han did little to initiate, with Dirrell at one point taunting his opponent to do something. Dirrell presented a study in efficiency: he lands clean shots and takes almost no risks. Han flurried at the end of the round, but it was all show.
In the fourth, after some trash-talking and taunting, the fighters tangled up and, as Han started to pull him to the canvass, Dirrell tackled Han. It certainly woke the crowd up, who booed Dirrell with great gusto. Dirrell continued to dominate the middle rounds, clinically taking Han apart.
In the eighth, both fighters were chattering, egging each other on. Han was tough, that’s clear, but the heavier and cleaner shots were landed, as they had been all night, by the man from Flint. The final two rounds were more of the same, as Dirrell used his considerable defensive skills to evade Han’s reckless offense while landing effective shots of his own. At the final bell, Dirrell did a back flip, a demonstration of fitness and lack of fatigue that the crowd failed to appreciate. The judges returned cards of 100-89, 99-83, 99-83, all for Dirrell.
The first televised bout of the evening featured undefeated Jorge Lara (29-0, 21 KOs) of Mexico against Claudio Marrero (22-2, 16 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. The bout was brief and brutal. Both fighters came out throwing huge punches, but it was Marrero who landed a short but explosive left directly on Lara’s chin that dropped the Mexican to the canvass. Dazed and glassy-eyed, Lara was unable to get his feet under him. Marrero takes the KO win at thirty-three seconds of the first round.
Lopez vs. Cruz Headlines a Full PBC Card Saturday Night
By: Eric Lunger
Saturday night on Fox, Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) presents a triple-header from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, TX. In a classic crossroads matchup, veteran Josesito Lopez takes on undefeated prospect Miguel Cruz in a ten-round welterweight clash, while Anthony Dirrell and Abraham Han are set for ten rounds at super middleweight. The televised card opens with featherweights Jorge Lara and Claudio Marrero.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions Twitter Account
Lopez (35-7, 19 KOs) has been in the ring with quality opposition, including a losing world title effort against Canelo Alvarez in 2012. In that same year, however, Lopez stopped Victor Ortiz in nine rounds, his most notable win. Since then, the Riverside, CA, native has posted mixed results, with losses to Marcos Maidana and Andre Berto, but he comes into Saturday night’s looking to continue his two-win streak. Lopez is an aggressive and fan-friendly fighter who is willing to take risks. Confident and relaxed, Josesito just finished a solid camp with renowned trainer Roberto Garcia: “this is the kind of fight I can really display my skills,” Lopez said at the pre-fight press conference, “I am prepared for anything Saturday night.”
For Miguel Cruz (17-0, 11 KOs), Saturday night is a huge opportunity. With only three ten-rounders under his belt, Cruz is relatively untested. His last two outings were unanimous decision wins, over Alex Martin last June and David Grayton in November. At five-foot-eleven, Cruz will have a two-inch height advantage over Lopez and a five-inch reach surplus. “I have to be smart and execute my game plan round after round,” Cruz said, “my jab will be key, and if I can use that and wear him down to the body, I think I’ll have a great chance to stop him.”
In the co-feature, former middleweight Champion Anthony Dirrell (31-1-1, 24 KOs) looks to continue his climb back into contention after a gritty sixth-round stoppage of Denis Douglin in November of last year. Two years ago, Dirrell lost his belt by majority-decision to Badou Jack, and he later stopped future IBF champion Caleb Truax in round one of their 2016 bout, so Dirrell knows what he can do, and he knows he belongs in the mix at the top of the 168 weight class. “Everybody knows I am a championship caliber fighter, and I’ll prove it again on Saturday. After this fight I’m ready to take on any of the super middleweight champions,” Dirrell said.
Abraham Han (26-3-1, 16 KOs) is an El Paso native, and is excited to fight in front of his hometown fans. Han’s most notable win was over Marcos Reyes in November of 2014, a ten-round majority decision. Han comes into Saturday night’s bout riding a three-fight win streak, with two recent knockouts and one no-contest due to a head butt. “I hope the sport fans of El Paso come out and watch me put on a great performance,” said Han in the press conference this week. “I know the type of challenge I have in front of me, but I also know I have the skills to pull this off.”
The action will start with a televised undercard feature, pitting heavy-handed Mexican Jorge Lara (29-0, 21 KOs) against Claudio Marrero (22-2, 16 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. With a combined seventy-percent knockout rate, this bout is unlikely to go the full distance.
The action begins live on FOX and FOX streaming 8:30 ET/5:30 PT.