This Saturday marks the long awaited return of WBA (Super) Welterweight Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0 22 KOs). He will be fighting Josesito Lopez (36-7 19 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. This is supposed to be a tune up fight for Thurman, who hasn’t been in the ring since March of 2017 due to injuries.
Keith Thurman is coming in as a heavy favorite, and rightly so. Before he was forced out of action due to injury, he was King of the Welterweight division. Now the division is stacked with new faces such as Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford, familiar faces such as Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, and older faces such as future Hall of Famer, Manny Pacquiao. Thurman needs to get back on his game, avoid injury, and string together a couple wins before fighting the top fighters in the division again.
Josesito Lopez has had a respectable 15 year career. He’s tough and gritty and is no easy outing. Recently, he started training under Robert Garcia and has a new team around him. Will it make a difference on the outcome of this fight? Probably not. He might avoid a knockout and do some damage to Thurman early. It really depends how much ring rust Thurman has. If Thurman is anything like his old self, no disrespect to Lopez, but it should be an easy night. We have seen Robert Garcia rejuvenate other careers, most notably that of Marcos “El Chino” Maidana. Maybe he’s able to do the same here. The presence of Robert Garcia, is only factor that gives Lopez any chance at what would be a the massive upset.
Keys to victory for Keith Thurman:
- Use his boxing skills to set up power shots. Power punches have been his bread and butter his entire career. No need to shy away from it now.
- Use awkward angles to confuse Lopez and create openings for his power shots. Land quick and often to set up the knockout.
- Control the ring. Force Lopez out of position. Lure him in close, throw uppercuts and powerful hooks upstairs.
Keys to victory for Josesito Lopez:
- When Thurman throws his awkward, but wide punches, find the timing and range to land the overhand right. Counter with straight rights and powerful jabs. At the very least, it will keep Thurman more honest.
- Work the body early and often. Thurman hasn’t been in the ring for almost two years. There’s a good chance that his stamina isn’t what it used to be. Wear Thurman down and it will eventually slow him down, making timing him a bit easier.
- Bring the pressure early. Do not allow Thurman to settle into any kind of rhythm. Make him uncomfortable from the start. If the fight goes the distance, Lopez stealing early rounds due to Thurman’s ring rust is critical.
Fight prediction: This will be action packed fight early on. I think Keith Thurman, who is the naturally bigger and more powerful fighter gets a late KO / TKO finish. However, depending on how rusty Thurman is, I wouldn’t be shocked by a decision. Also with Robert Garcia training Lopez, I expect to see a crisper, smarter version of Lopez. Either way I have Keith “One Time” Thurman winning this fight. Lopez has a chance but it’s slim. Thurman is in his prime and I’d suspect he’s hungry to get back on top and make some noise with this win to let people know he’s back.
You can catch all the action on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday January 26th, with the preliminary fights starting at 6pm EST, and the main card starting at 8pm EST. If you want to view this fight in Spanish, you can tune into Fox Deportes.