A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
‘One Time’ Keith too much for Robert ‘The Ghost’
The Premier Boxing Championship series marked boxing’s return to national television courtesy of NBC Sports was highlighted by a potential ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate.
In the main event, last Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV, ‘interim’ WBA welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman (25-0, 21 KOs) stepped-up his game by and asserted himself against former three-division IBF champion Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero (32-3-1, 18 KOs). Thurman was lured into a thrilling slugfest through twelve rounds that was highlighted by a Guerrero knockdown in the ninth round.
Thurman, recognized for his two-handed knockout power, didn’t get the stoppage, but he settled for a satisfying twelve-round unanimous decision victory.
“Robert Guerrero was a tremendous warrior,” Thurman said. “He’s known as ‘The Ghost’ and is a veteran, a [former] world champion. He showed it today and was a little more calm.”
The judges scored the contest 120-107, 118-109, and 118-108, but the final tallies failed to indicate the high level of competitiveness from both fighters. Thurman threw the harder and sharper punches, but ‘The Ghost’ was in Thurman’s face the entire fight. Guerrero refused to melt under Thurman’s force. Guerrero fought as bravely as he did while helping his wife Casey fight cancer. Guerrero wasn’t going to be stepping-stone that was designed to make Thurman invincible. He had already achieved what Thurman is now starting to have a taste of. Guerrero fought Thurman as if he has nothing to lose.
As opposed to not having anything to lose, the 26 year-old Thurman had everything to again by beating Guerrero, 31, impressively. The knockout may not have come when two right hands put Guerrero down in round nine, but the respect of having dominated a former world champion in the biggest fight of your career did.
Thurman is emerging as one of boxing’s brightest stars for years to come. He is an exciting fighter with lots of appeal and a fighting personality. Thurman can punch, and take a punch as well. Guerrero, not recognized for having punching power (especially at 147 pounds), caused Thurman’s eye to both blacken and swell shut. Even in the final three rounds, Guerrero, fighting with urgency, kept on the attack. Thurman’s hand speed, combination punching, and ring generalship proved more than enough to best Guerrero that night.
Although his handlers have been taking their time by slowly transitioning him into bigger nationally televised timeslots in recent years, fight with Guerrero was the biggest of his career. Thurman headlining the main event of NBC Fight Night against as popular and terrific as Guerrero, who in May 2013 went twelve rounds with Floyd Mayweather, was a tremendous opportunity. Thurman is well on his way toward doing some great things in his career.
Fighters such as unified WBC/WBA junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia, two-division champ Adrien Broner, Lucas Matthysse, and even Lamont Peterson may eventually have to cross paths with Thurman. No one can speak of a fight with either Floyd Mayweather, or Manny Pacquiao without having to go through Thurman.
The victory removes the ‘interim’ label and establishes Thurman as the WBA welterweight champion. As welterweight champion, Thurman will continue to make routine title defenses, especially against mandatory contenders annually. Meanwhile, Mayweather, who has signed to fight Pacquiao on May 2, has been elevated to WBA ‘super’ champion at 147 pounds. No one knows (or cares) about what that means, other than the fact that Thurman MAY eventually find himself in either the Mayweather, Pacquiao, or Amir Khan Sweepstakes as long as he remains undefeated and continues to impress the boxing community. Thurman isn’t on their level yet, but he’s coming.
The win against Guerrero marked his fifth world title victory since 2013 when he knocked out Diego Chavez to win the ‘interim’ 147-pound title. Guerrero was dominant against Jesus Soto Karass, a resurgent Julio Diaz, and undefeated Leonard Bundu.
What is next for Keith Thurman? If you wasn’t very impressed with him following his blazing KO of Carlos Quintana in 2012, then you almost certainly have to be interested in ‘One Time’ by now.