Blessed be thy Boxing fan of today, myriad of written, audio and visual options to stay current with the climate, as well as varying choices of mediums by which to view our sport. This past Saturday, January 26th, Premiere Boxing Champions on FOX headlined the return of WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez in a live, non-subscription fight shown during primetime. Simultaneously, Golden Boy Promotions featured WBO super welterweight titlist, Jaime Munguia, making the third defense of his strap against Tekeshi Inoue on the live streaming service DAZN. Both retained their laurels yet had to dig a bit deeper and show more wrinkles than expected.
Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KO’s) vs. Josesito Lopez (36-8, 19 KO’s)
A staggering peak viewing audience just short of 2.8mil tuned in for Premiere Boxing Champions on FOX to witness Keith “One Time” Thurman’s first bout in 22 months, pitted against the “Riverside Rocky” Josesito Lopez. While certainly no slouch, Lopez was handpicked to end Thurman’s layoff based on a presumed lack of defense and durability. Knockout losses to Canelo Alvarez, Marcos Maidana and Andre Berto bolstered this point, along with the fact Lopez campaigned as a Jr. lightweight once upon a time. And as the opening bell dinged, Thurman appeared to have not skipped a beat in nearly 2 years; pumping his left jab and firing sharp, fast shots off that stick. He got Lopez’s attention with a right uppercut prior to the bell, then dropped the “Riverside Rocky” with a counter left hook on the button, just as Lopez engaged in the 2nd.
Fresh off flooring a guy with a single shot, and having not been on display since March 2017, “One Time” Thurman seemed to be on the precipice of not only a flawless comeback performance, but a KO. Then came the 7th, when a big left hook caught Thurman along the ropes, badly hurting him, resulting in such a dominant round for Lopez, he received 10-8 scores on all three of the judge’s cards without placing his foe on the canvas at all. The power on Thurman’s shots wasn’t the same in the latter portion of this affair, so he relied on activity and movement the remainder of the contest. It allowed Keith to register an easy to score verdict, even as one of the judges mysteriously tabulated a draw. Make no mistake, Thurman won, but it was much tougher than it should’ve been.
There’s a growing suspicion Thurman’s history of injuries has compromised his prime fighting years. He’d best steer clear of top tier welterweights like Errol Spence and Terence Crawford. The next tier, Shawn Porter and Manny Pacquiao, may be too daunting of a task as well. All arrows are pointing at Thurman-Pacquiao next, in what smells like a cash-out for ‘One Time”.
Jaime Munguia (32-0, 26 KO’s) vs. Tekeshi Inoue (13-1-1, 7 KO’s)
The beauty of subscribing to DAZN is the freedom to watch, re-watch and re-re-watch their bouts as frequently as you want. Monthly fees allow access to DAZN’s growing catalog of fights at the whim and/or convenience of the subscriber. On that note, knowing Thurman-Lopez was airing, simultaneously , I took advantage of DAZN’s user friendly platform and viewed Mexico’s Jaime Munguia vs. Japan’s Tekeshi Inoue afterwards. All during fight week, Inoue was stoic, quiet, borderline passive and disinterested, but he was anything but when it was fight time. He wildly and aggressively pursued the bigger, taller, younger Munguia from the outset, as if possessed, unleashing would-be kill shots.
Customarily a ballsy, come forward fighter himself, Munguia showed there’s more to him than meets the eye. He utilized his jab, subtle movement and battered Inoue with left hooks to the head and body, along with occasional right hands. The body punishment was so constant, it’s likely Inoue was urinating blood the following day. Mexican fight fans certainly love the bull, so to speak, but in this particular outing it behooved Munguia to be the matador, which he did surprisingly well in route to a clear, decisive, yet competitive unanimous decision.