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Breakdown: Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez fight preview and prediction

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This Saturday it’s the long-awaited return of “One Time” as Keith Thurman finally steps back in the ring live on Fox.

FOX Sports and Premier Boxing Champions Press Conference Experience Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

At long last, he’s back. Theoretical Welterweight kingpin Keith Thurman (28-0; 22 KO) returns to the ring this Saturday to face the tough Josesito Lopez (36-7; 19 KO). The fight is for Thurman’s WBA “World” Welterweight title. Ring Magazine has Thurman at #3 in the division with Lopez unranked. PBC on Fox Thurman vs. Lopez takes place this Saturday, January 26 in Brooklyn and airs live on Fox with a fight time of 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT.

How do these two stack up?

Thurman: 30 years old | 5’7” | 69” reach | orthodox stance
Lopez: 34 years old | 5’9” | 69” reach | orthodox stance

What have these two done recently?

Thurman: W - Danny Garcia (SD) | W - Shawn Porter (UD) | W - Luis Collazo (RTD)
Lopez: W - Miguel Cruz (UD) | W - Saul Corral (UD) | W - Todd Manuel (UD)

How did these two get here?

The career of Keith “One Time” Thurman is a weird one of starts and stops. He seemed on the verge of true superstar status when he was given the coveted position of headlining the first ever PBC show, taking on Robert Guerrero. He won there, took a stay-busy fight later that that year, then took a year off before scoring a huge win in 2016 over Shawn Porter. But in the 2.5 years since he has just one win - a good win, no doubt, over Danny Garcia, but just one. Thurman is undeniably a special talent, and there’s a strong case to be made that he is the best boxer in the sport’s deepest division. But his career is starting to feel a bit like late-career Andre Ward, defined by the loss of his prime fighting years. Let’s see if he sticks around this time and finally gets some momentum going.

Josesito Lopez is the kind of tough, give it his all fighter that makes the sport of boxing fun. He’s been in the game 15 years and he’s faced some of the sport’s big names in that time, including Canelo, Marcos Maidana, and Andre Berto. And against them all he has put up a great fight, but lost. His biggest career moment came way back in 2012 when he blasted Victor Ortiz, upsetting Ortiz and stealing his high-profile spot against Canelo. Like Thurman, he hasn’t been particularly active, fighting once a year as of late. This is his most high profile fight since Berto in 2015.

What can fans expect?

Much like Pacquiao vs. Broner last week, this is a fight determined entirely by the status of the A side fighter. Last week it was Pac, this week it’s One Time. Because unless Thurman has really regressed, this fight is all him. And the matchmakers at PBC know that. Lopez is the perfect kind of bounce-back opponent - something of a name, a style that should make it a good fight, but not likely to cause too much trouble. The big question for me will be just how much does Thurman push things. If it weren’t for Thurman’s delay, I’d pick him by TKO in round 7 or so. As it is, I think he fights a bit more carefully. Lopez is a tough fighter, and if Thurman doesn’t go for it, he’ll make it to the end.
Prediction: Keith Thurman, lopsided UD

What else is on the card?

The other featured fight is at Heavyweight with #8 ranked Adam Kownacki (18-0; 14 KO) vs. Gerald Washington (19-2-1; 12 KO). Kownacki is a 29 year old Polish fighter making good strides up the ranks. He comes in a win off former champion Charles Martin. Washington has kind of established himself as an opponent to high level fighters, with recent losses to both Deontay Wilder and Jarrell Miller. He’s a good barometer for Kownacki, who should take the win. Probably the most exciting fight on the card is at Featherweight, where “King Tug” Tugstsogt Nyambayar (10-0; 9 KO) faces Claudio Marrero (23-2; 17 KO). Tug is a dynamo who you want to tune in for. There are also prelims starting at 6:00 p.m. ET on FS1 for those who want to get the full PBC experience.

Should you watch?

There aren’t a ton of competitive fights here, but Thurman, Kownacki, and Tug are all fighters to watch, plus Lopez will hopefully make the main event a fun fight - this one is worth your time.