Keith Thurman came back from a 22-month layoff to beat Josesito Lopez via majority decision on Saturday night to retain his welterweight title and set his sights on a showdown with Manny Pacquiao.
Thurman got off to a fast start with a second-round knockdown, withstood a big seventh round from Lopez, and regained control to improve to 29-0. It was the WBA champion’s first fight since 4 March 2017, before he was sidelined first by right elbow surgery and then an injured left hand.
Both looked back to normal inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and so did Thurman’s legs, as he moved well to mostly stay out of trouble against Lopez, who kept coming forward throughout the fight but often got caught with uppercuts and combinations for his efforts. “He came right for me,” Thurman said. “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.”
He’d likely need a better one against the 40-year-old Pacquiao, who showed he has plenty left with an easy victory over Adrien Broner last week. “I would most likely definitely take the Manny Pacquiao fight this year,” Thurman said. “I feel good. That was a beautiful fight. I’m ready to fight wherever Pacquiao wants it.”
Lopez (36-8) stalked all night and had Thurman hurt in the seventh round, but otherwise Thurman’s speed stopped Lopez getting in good enough position to have enough power on his punches. “I was disappointed I couldn’t finish him and get him out of there,” Lopez said. “If he thinks he’s the best welterweight out there, then I want two through five lined up for me.”
In the co-main event, Polish power puncher Adam Kownacki stopped Gerald Washington in the second round of their heavyweight bout. Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs), with entire sections of the stands behind his corner filled with Polish fans wearing red, had Washington caught against the ropes late in the first round and dropped him after a right hand early in the second.
Washington struggled to get up, first falling backward into the bottom rope, before rising. Referee Harvey Dock let Washington continue but not for long, stepping in to stop it at 1:09 of the round after Kownacki quickly pounced and hurt Washington again.
“I trained hard for this fight,” Kownacki said. “I prepared for 10 hard rounds, but I’m glad I got it done and ended it as fast as I did.”
Image: Keith Thurman (left) catches Josesito Lopez with un uppercut during the eighth round. Photograph: Frank Franklin II/