PHOTOS: Thurman Drops Lopez; Kownacki Delivers Second-Round TKO
WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman returned to the ring and defended his title with a majority decision victory over veteran contender Josesito Lopez Saturday night in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.
In his first fight in 22-months after elbow and hand injuries, Thurman started fast, landing a clean left hook on an exchange that put Lopez on the canvas with 15 seconds left in the second round. Thurman continued to move effectively and pick out power shots to Lopez’s head.
“My hand took some contact tonight,” said Thurman. “Lopez had a tough head but we held out strong. 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.”
Lopez tried to crowd the space, attack the body and then use his length to surprise Thurman with power shots. In round seven, Lopez connected with a straight right hand that hit Thurman cleanly and had him immediately in retreat mode.
“He had me buzzed and shaken up in the seventh round, but I tried to stay on the outside,” said Thurman. “I was a little off in my prediction of how long his arms were. He lunged in and was really willing to commit to the knockout.”
“I definitely thought I held my own in that fight,” said Lopez. “I had him hurt in the seventh round and I was landing a lot of clean shots on him.”
Lopez poured it on throughout the seventh round, but Thurman was able to do enough to survive the round. Lopez continued to come forward in the ensuing rounds, but Thurman was careful to continue his circular movement, while also landing big power shots to the head.
“I was disappointed I couldn’t finish him and get him out of there,” said Lopez. “If he thinks he’s the best welterweight out there, then I want two through five lined up for me.”
Thurman ended the fight landing 247 punches to 117 from Lopez, and held the advantage in accuracy by landing over 27 percent of his punches to 23 percent from Lopez. Lopez’s increased activity in the closing rounds helped him narrow the deficit on the scorecard, but in the end, the majority decision went to Thurman by scores of 117-109, 115-11 and 113-113.
The victory sets up Thurman for many possible marquee matchups against top welterweights, including eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao.
“I would most likely definitely take the Manny Pacquiao fight this year,” said Thurman. “I feel good. That was a beautiful fight. I’m ready to fight wherever Pacquiao wants it. Either way, I will be back later this year. Believe that.”
In the co-main event, Brooklyn’s Adam Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) continued his climb up the heavyweight rankings by earning a second-round TKO victory over former title challenger
Gerald Washington (19-3-1, 12 KOs).
“I trained hard for this fight,” said Kownacki. “I prepared for 10 hard rounds, but I’m glad I got it done and ended it as fast as I did. We stuck with the game plan. I’m a pressure fighter. I worked on sitting down on my punches and I proved that I have great power when I do that.”
The Polish-born fighter put on an impressive performance in front of a large crowd of Polish diehards. Kownacki got the action started early, landing a series of big punches that had Washington in trouble on the ropes. Kownacki landed 46 punches in total in the round, to just 12 from Washington.
Kownacki continued to come forward in round, hitting Washington with a straight right hand that forced him to hold onto the ropes, and another straight right that sent Washington to the canvas. Washington was able to get to his feet, but after Kownacki followed up with multiple right hands, referee Harvey Dock to halt the bout 1:09 into the second round.
“It’s amazing to have this support from the Polish fans,” said Kownacki. “It definitely gives me extra energy. I want to thank my team, because without them I wouldn’t be where I’m at. I want that belt!”
In the opening bout on FOX and FOX Deportes, rising featherweight Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-0, 9 KOs) remained unbeaten with a narrow unanimous decision victory over Claudio Marrero (23-3, 17 KOs) in their WBC Featherweight Championship eliminator bout.
“We had a really good camp and I showed it in the ring,” said Nyambayar. “This was just me putting the pressure and pace that we worked on in camp and using it in the ring.”
Nyambayar looked to counter his southpaw opponent, throwing straight right hands over the straight left that came from Marrero. The action started to pick up in round three when a big exchange including a right hand from Nyambayar sent Marrero into the ropes. Throughout the course of the fight, Marrero out landed Nyambayar 119-114, but Nyambayar held the advantage in accuracy by landing 23 percent of his punches to 16 percent by Marrero.
Marrero attempted to slow down the counters from Nyambayar by tying up on the inside. He was deducted a point by referee Benjy Esteves in the 10th round for hitting after the break.
“I fought a tough fight and left it all out in the ring,” said Marrero. “I had a tough opponent who came to fight. I thought the point deduction came a little early, without that it’s a different fight. But at the end of the day, I fought hard against a good fighter.”
After championship rounds that saw both men have impressive moments, the judges saw the fight for Nyambayar by the scores of 116-11, 115-112 and 114-113.
“This sets me up for big fights,” said Nyambayar. “Whatever big fights are presented to us, we’ll take it.”
In the main event of Prelims on FS1, Brooklyn prospect Chris Colbert (10-0, 3 KOs)remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision victory over Joshuah Hernandez (8-2, 7 KOs)in their exciting eight-round super featherweight contest. Colbert used his speed and a strong left hand to keep Hernandez at bay early, but Hernandez continued to charge in and test Colbert throughout the contest. In the end, Colbert’s counterpunching and accuracy was enough to give him the decision by the score of 79-73 three times.
“Today I decided not to give the crowd a boxing lesson, I decided I wanted to show them that I can stand and fight with anybody if I choose to,” said Colbert. “We’re going to keep making these fights easier and easier.”
Additional Prelims action saw 2016 U.S. Olympian Antuanne Russell (8-0, 8 KOs) deliver a dominant second-round knockout of Roberto Almazan (7-9, 2 KOs) in their super lightweight showdown. Russell blitzed Almazan early and often, eventually dropping him with a right hook to the top of the head. Almazan got up but was quickly blitzed by Russell, who forced referee Shada Murdaugh to wave off the bout 59 seconds into the round.
“I listened to my corner’s directions and they told me that the hook was going to be there when he shot his left hand,” said Russell. “I went to my hook position and I was ready to catch and fire. This is nothing new to me. I just try to execute what I’m told and sharpen my craft. We’re going back to the drawing board and we’ll be patient.”
The opening bout on FS1 saw super welterweight prospect Chordale Booker (14-0, 7 KOs) drop Colombia’s Juan De Angel (21-10, 19 KOs) on his way to a unanimous decision in their eight-round bout. Booker scored the knockdown with a combination that was punctuated by a sweeping left hook. He remained unbeaten by scores of 79-72 twice and 80-71.
“I’m going to keep climbing and fighting better opponents,” said Booker. “I thought I had a good performance today, but not great. I feel like I showed that I have a lot I can do in this sport.”