By: Chris Henderson
This Saturday Keith Thurman will make his long awaited return to an exceptionally talented welterweight division as he steps in the ring for the first time in almost two years at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to face veteran Josesito Lopez. Thurman suffered an injury to his elbow that required surgery as well as a lengthy rehabilitation process followed by a hand injury he sustained while training for his first attempt at a return.
Prior to the injuries, Thurman had reached the pinnacle of the division with back to back victories over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. The latter of the two was a unification bout in which Thurman was able to pick-up the WBC belt in addition to the WBA version he already held. Although the 30-year-old is still the WBA champion he was forced to relinquish his WBC belt during his time away.
Beginning with Lopez, Thurman will be looking to reestablish himself among the hierarchy at 147lbs. Although the 34-year-old Lopez, (36-7), is considered by most to just be a tune-up, Thurman admitted to Henderson Sports Media that he may be a bit nervous;
“Nerves? For sure. I’m excited to get back in the ring but it’s been a long time off and that’s nerve wracking. I just want to get in there with Josesito and let my hands do the talking, let my hands show everybody that I’m still the best welterweight in the world.”
During his time away, Thurman has received plenty of criticism from fan’s and media alike as some have went as far as to say that he had lost his motivation or drive to return.
“Yeah I’ve heard all the naysayers that say Keith Thurman lost his passion, Keith Thurman skills are gone. I’m gonna quiet all the talk by showcasing my talent on January 26th.”
When Thurman was injured he was a unified champion and considered by many to be at the top of his division. Now, IBF kingpin Errol Spence Jr and WBO boss/P4P elite Terence Crawford are the believed rulers at 147 by most pundits. However, the Clearwater Florida resident doesn’t feel quite the same.
“I’m healthy so I have to come back and stay active. Right now my focus is on Josesito Lopez. He has Robert [Garcia] as his new coach and he has experience so my eyes are on him. January 26th the best welterweight in the world returns. I’m missing one of my belts and I have to reestablish everything I’ve already accomplished then go from there but the best fight’s at welterweight always involved Keith Thurman and that’s how its gonna continue to be.”
Thurman seemed to be hinting that he would try to regain the WBC title, which is currently held by Porter, first. While a rematch of their 2016 battle is a fight many would likely be ok with it’s Spence and Crawford that fans want to know about.
“I’ve been waiting to meet the man that is better than me, I’m one of the baddest men on the planet and I look forward to showing the world just that starting with Josesito Lopez. My legacy is not over. I’m coming to make a statement and that is, ‘One-Time’ is back.”
We may not get all the answers we are looking for Saturday night but one thing’s certain, with the return of Thurman boxing in the welterweight division just got a lot more exciting.
About the Editor
Army Veteran and former Professional Boxer Simon Ruvalcaba started boxing at the age of ten and Had a 71 fight amateur career which featured a 139 lbs. 1998 8th U.S. Army Boxing Championship out of Camp Casey, Korea and a spot on the prestigious Army Boxing Team at Fort Hood, TX. After a journeyman pro career of 18 fights, which included sparring sessions with many champions and contenders including Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell “Sweat Pea” Whitaker, Simon started writing and has contributed to many publications and websites including fighthype.com, pound4pound.com, Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA), Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV) and also writes a monthly boxing column for Tahoeonstage.com. He has also been the Boxing Instructor for Ken Shamrock and The Lions Den and was UFC star Paige VanZant’s first boxing coach!
Born and Raised in South Lake Tahoe, California he now resides in Sun Valley, Nevada and spends as much time as possible with his Son Gabriel! Beyond boxing, Simon is an all around sports fanatic and is passionate about the teams that he roots for!