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Josesito Lopez surprised ref didn’t halt fight after Thurman hurt

Image: Josesito Lopez surprised ref didn't halt fight after Thurman hurt

By Chris Williams: Josesito Lopez (36-8, 19 KOs) believes that his fight with WBA Super World welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) probably would have been stopped by most referees after he had Keith hurt in the seventh round last Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Thurman, 30, took a wicked right hand to the head in round 7 that him badly stunned, and nearly defenseless. Lopez plowed forward, hitting Thurman with massive shots while the referee Steve Willis stood and watched without stepping in to stop the contest.

Thurman took a beating for the remainder of the round, and barely made it without being stopped on his feet. Not surprisingly, Lopez, 34, thinks the fight would have been stopped if there was a different referee working the fight. To his credit, Thurman was able to come back and dominate rounds 8 through 12 to win a 12 round majority decision by the scores 117-109, 115-111 and 113-113.

“I was connecting with him. I was probably one punch away from putting him out,” Josesito Lopez said to esnewsreporting. “I thought in most instances, most referees would have stopped that. He was really hurt, standing on his feet, I thought, it could have been a stoppage. It was really close. After some of those punches, he was discombobulated. He was off balance. He couldn’t really compose himself,” Lopez said of Thurman.

Referees seem to have a different set of rules when it comes to champions and highly popular fighters being hurt compared to just regular B-side opponents. You can argue that referees let the champions and popular fighters hang in there after they’re badly hurt rather than them stopping the fight. That isn’t necessarily a good thing for these fighters. They end up taking a lot of punishment sometimes, and that’s not good for them. But in Thurman’s case, he was able to make it out of round 7 after he was badly stunned by Lopez. In between the 7th and 8th, Thurman recovered, and fought well for the remainder of the fight. Thurman’s movement enabled him to avoid Lopez’s attempts to knock him out in rounds 8 and 9.

You can understand where Lopez in coming from in talking about the seventh round. Thurman looked like he was in serious trouble. He was tired and hurt. Even though Thurman didn’t go down, all three of the judges gave it to Lopez by a 10-8 score. He had Thurman hurt to such an extent that the judges felt that it warranted them scoring it 10-8 in Lopez’s favor.

Lopez fought well in round eight, landing some big shots, but not hurting Thurman like he’d done in the seventh. Thurman’s movement was too good for Lopez to land anything as big as he had in the previous round. Thurman likely would have been hurt again if Lopez had been able to get to his chin. It takes fast feet to get to Thurman when he’s on his bike like he was in rounds eight through twelve. Rounds 11 and 12 were close due to the pressure that Lopez was putting on Thurman, who was very tired in the last two rounds. Thurman would attribute his fatigue to his time out of the ring, but he had the same problems in his fight before that against Danny Garcia in 2017. Thurman faded down the stretch in that fight as well. However, he blamed that on his right elbow injury that he suffered. Thurman also gassed in the championship rounds in his close 12 round decision win over Shawn Porter in June 2016, and he was healthy for that fight. Thurman is more of an eight round fighter, and always has been. That’s something that is likely going to stay that way no matter how busy Thurman is with his career. If Thurman fought three times a year, his conditioning might improve, but his injury problems will likely make it impossible for him to fight that frequently

“I would love a rematch,” Lopez said of wanting a second shot at Thurman. I think it would be a similar situation. I would press the action a little bit earlier. I think I could beat him in the rematch. It would be nice to do it again. I think the fans enjoyed this fight. ‘Man, he was out on his feet. You just have to be smart and land a couple more punches,'” Lopez said in commenting to what his trainer Robert Garcia told him in the corner after he went back to his corner after almost knocking out Thurman in round seven.

A rematch is completely out of the question. Thurman wants a mega-fight against WBA ‘regular’ welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao next, and he has no interest in fighting Lopez again, especially with the way he fought last Saturday. At the post-fight news conference, Thurman spoke of nothing but wanting a fight against Pacquiao in his next bout. If Thurman can’t get the fight against Pacquiao, he wants to fight the winner of the March 9th fight between WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) and Yordenis Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs). Thurman wants to win back his World Boxing Council title that he vacated last year in July. He already beat Porter by a 12 round unanimous decision in June 2016, and he feels confident enough in beating him again that he wants to face him a second time. If Thurman doesn’t fight better than he did last Saturday, he’ll lose to the Porter vs. Ugas winner. Those guys are better fighters than Lopez, and they’ve got the talent to outdo Thurman. Porter almost beat Thurman three years ago when he was at his best. Thurman wasn’t at his best against Lopez, due to him coming off of a 22 month layoff from the ring because of injuries to his right elbow and left hand.

“I had him out on his feet. He was close [to being stopped,” Lopez said about Thurman being hurt in the seventh. “Like I said, most judges would have stopped that. He was hurt. He was back-peddling and barely surviving. It sucks I didn’t get the decision,” Lopez said.

Thurman landed twice as many punches than Lopez, which made it impossible for the judges to give Josesito the victory. That much is clear. Lopez will likely agree that Thurman deserved the victory after he watches the fight back once or twice. Thurman was the better man in the fight, but he still almost got knocked out in the seventh. If this had been Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford or even Porter that Thurman was fighting last weekend, he would have been in big trouble the entire fight, and not just the seventh round. Thurman doesn’t handle pressure well, and he’s not able to stand in the pocket and not sustain punishment the way Floyd Mayweather Jr. did during his career.

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