What a war Thurman vs. Lopez turned out to be. I optimistically thought Josesito Lopez would be tough enough to make the final bell, but never did I think he would come inches away from upsetting Keith Thurman. But that’s exactly what happened. After a fast start from Thurman, including a knockdown in round 2 off a beautifully quick hook, it looked like things were cruising along to an easy Thurman win. Then round 7 happened. Lopez just came with it there, throwing his all at Thurman and coming oh so close to stopping him. But it was not to be. Thurman survived, and the two went to war for the final rounds in a great, great fight.
For Thurman, this is a win, but not the win he wanted. Still, it was a needed return from time-off, and Lopez is not an easy return opponent. Let’s hope we don’t get another prolonged Thurman absence again, and that he is back in 2019.
For Lopez, this is a stock-raising fight. He’s been a dynamic opponent to bigger name fighters for a few years now, and he showed why here. His refusal to be cowed by Thurman was amazing. This man is everything to love about boxing, and I hope we get to see him in another exciting, high-profile fight again soon.
But that’s all ahead. For now, we can just bask in the joy of an unexpectedly great fight.
Thoughts on the rest of the card:
- Adam Kownacki vs. Gerald Washington was clearly set up to highlight Kownacki and, well, mission accomplished. The undefeated fighter rolled over Washington, stopping him in the 2nd round impressively. To get there, we got some wild, sloppy, fun Heavyweight clubbering. Kownacki has quietly made his way into the top 10 - now he’s not quiet anymore.
- Post-fight, Kownacki eyed Deontay Wilder. That seems unlikely for Wilder, but I will be very interested to see where Kownacki lands next. I know some don’t like prospect vs. prospect fights, but I would love to see Kownacki vs. Big Baby Miller next.
- Kownacki shushing the crowd to announce he and his wife were expecting was adorable.
- Mongolia’s “King Tug” Tugstsogt Nyambayar came into his fight with Claudio Marrero the clear favorite. And yes, he pulled off the win, but Marrero certainly made him work for it. In the early stages, it looked like Tug would take a relatively easy win, but as the fight progressed, Marrero came more alive and turned it into a terrific battle down the stretch, very nearly spoiling the party. Good win for Tug, but also an important reminder that a 10-0 fighter, even a hyped 10-0 fighter, still needs time to develop.
- Of note: Marrero had a point taken late in the fight for hitting on the break. There was concern that the point would change the decision. It didn’t. Had the point not been taken, Tug still would have won, though it would have been a majority decision instead of unanimous.
Next up in boxing is Sergey Kovalev’s rematch with Eleider Alvarez next weekend on ESPN+. See you then.