Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez rumored for Jan.26
By Mike Smith: Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is rumored to be returning to the ring two months from now to defend his World Boxing Association Super World welterweight title against #7 WBA Josesito Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) on January 26 on Premier Boxing Champions on Fox, according to Michael Benson.
As long as Thurman is healthy, he’ll do well against Lopez. This is a very winnable fight for the ring rusty Thurman. Lopez is a decent fighter, but more fringe level than a top 10 talent.
Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) has been out of the ring for a year and a half since beating former WBC welterweight champion Danny Garcia in a unification fight on March 4, 2017. Thurman, 29, vacated his World Boxing Council 147 lb title earlier this year on April 24 after being out of the ring for 13 months, and there are a lot of fans that have been calling for the WBA to strip him of his title. The WBC subsequently made Thurman their WBC emeritus champion at 147. Thurman can challenge for the WBC title as soon as he returns to the ring, but that’s obviously not going to happen.
Thus far, the WBA has patient in allowing Thurman to keep his title while sitting on the shelf month after month. If Thurman fails to fight in January, he’ll be on his way being out of the ring for two solid years. It’s going to look bad on the WBA’s part if they fail to strip Thurman of his title. Thurman was supposed to be back on May 19 of this year, but he suffered a deep bone bruise of his left hand while training. Jessie Vargas was the opponent that Thurman was rumored to be fighting on that date.
In Thurman’s 12 round split decision win over Danny Garcia last year on March 4, he injured his right elbow, Thurman subsequently had surgery on the elbow, but he’s been slow in recovering. When it did look like Thurman was ready to return to the ring, he
Josesito Lopez has won his last three fights since losing to Andre Berto by a 6th round knockout in March 2015. Lopez has since beaten three lower level fighters in Todd Manuel, Saul Corral and Miguel Cruz. Lopez has looked good in beating guys that aren’t considered world class fighters. Lopez’s biggest win of his career was a 9th round stoppage win over Victor Ortiz in June 2012. Ortiz suffered a broken jaw in the 9th and wound up retiring on his stool. Things haven’t gone well for Lopez since then fight in losing to Saul Canelo Alvarez, Marcos Maidana and Andre Berto by knockout losses. Lopez moved up from light welterweight to challenge then WBC junior middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez for his title in September 2012, but it didn’t work out well for him. Canelo knocked the over-matched Lopez down three times in stopping him in the 5th round in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Given Thurman’s history of injuries, there’s no guarantee that he’ll make it through training camp to face Josesito Lopez on January 26. At this point, it’s hard to know for certain whether Thurman’s body will hold up for an entire training camp without him suffering a physical break down of one type or another. Thurman’s surgically repaired right elbow is an obvious concern, but so is his shoulders. He’s had shoulder problems as well in the past. Thurman also suffered a neck injury from an automobile accident in 2016 that led to his fight against Porter being postponed. As long as Thurman takes it easy during training camp, he should be able to make it to the Lopez fight without being sidelined once again. It’s going to be interesting to see if Thurman can make it back into the ring without getting hurt again. There’s arguably more interest in predicting whether Thurman can make it through training camp than there is for him to beat Lopez, who clearly isn’t in the same league as Thurman when he’s healthy and firing on all eight cylinders. Before Thurman’s fight with Danny Garcia, he was considered to be the best welterweight in the division. That’s no longer the case unfortunately. Spence has now taken over that spot in the eyes of the boxing fans. They see Spence as the #1 guy in the 147 lb division.