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Tough Time for Keith “One Time” Thurman

 March 7, 2015, Queens, NY  He may have won every round on the scorecard of one of the three judges, but it was no “Easy Time” for Keith “One Time” Thurman as he defeated Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero by unanimous decision (120-107, 118-109, and 118-108).  PureSportsNY scored the bout 118-109.  The fight was the main event on NBC’s Premier Championship Boxing that also featured Adrien “The Problem” Broner who defeated John Molina by unanimous decision in a junior welterweight bout.

The last time NBC aired a prime time championship bout was—you’ve got to be kidding me—1985.  If my math serves me correctly, that was three decades ago, and the main event was Larry Holmes (The Easton Assassin) going against young, hungry challenger, Carl “The Truth” Williams.

Thurman is undefeated and raised his record to 25-0, 21 KOs.  Guerrero, who lost his second fight in three bouts, was knocked down in the ninth round for only the second time in his career. He is now 32-2-1, 18 KOs and lost two of his last three fights (losing to Floyd Mayweather in May 2013 by decision).  Thurman predicted a fourth round knockout but realized early on that Guerrero is one of the most durable fighters in the sport.  He hit Guerrero with strong punches in the opening round, and even wobbled him in the second round, but, for the most part, Guerrero took the punches well.  In the third, an inadvertent clash of heads caused tremendous swelling on the left-side of Thurman’s head.  Thurman seemed to fight less aggressively in the next few rounds due to the increased swelling, and no doubt, sizeable headache.  He moved, avoiding Guerrero’s left hand, and varied his attack to the head and body.  In the sixth round, Thurman staggered Guerrero at the bell but did not really force the action in the next round.  Round eight saw Thurman staying in the pocket and being more willing to engage Guerrero.

The ninth round marked the turn of the fight.  Thurman landed a left hook that connected to the side of Guerrero’s head.  The punch didn’t land cleanly, but it hit the sweet spot.  As Guerrero staggered backwards, Thurman wasted no time and threw a double right-uppercut.  The first one missed, but second one landed causing Guerrero to crumple to the canvas.  Guerrero laid on the canvas with his hands behind his head, blood streaming down his face from the corner of his left eye, as referee Kenny Bayless began the count.  With 27 seconds left, Thurman went in for the kill and cornered Guerrero.  He landed hard punches, but Guerrero withstood the onslaught and even stared Thurman down when the bell sounded.  No other welterweight could have survived which was a testament to Guerrero’s surname (Warrior).

The tenth round sounded, and soon afterwards, the referee stopped the fight so Guerrero’s glove could be taped.  The extended timeout seemed to have revitalized Guerrero who came out charging. His aggressive tactics seemed to have surprised Thurman who wanted to win by knockout.  The crowd became more vocal in its support of Guerrero who backed Thurman into the ropes and punched with desperate ferocity.  In the eleventh round, Thurman seemed to be resigned to the fact that he would not be able to stop Guerrero and moved hurriedly around the ring.  The crowd booed and Guerrero pressed on; however, Thurman’s slick boxing won him the round.  In the twelfth and final round, Guerrero chased Thurman who at times exchanged with him.  I scored the round for Guerrero, probably more for his grit and determination than the number of punches landed.

Thurman received his largest payday ($1.5 million), and Guerrero earned a hefty $1.225 million.  Both fighters increased their stature and will be involved in high-profile fights in the very near future.  Thurman has the interim WBA title, and Guerrero is still a top contender whose relentless pressure makes for entertaining fights.  Thurman is looking to fight the winner of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, but he will probably not get a shot at either fighter because he is too dangerous an opponent and is relatively unknown by the non-boxing fan.  In other words, Thurman is not box office—yet.

Thurman’s frame, speed, and power will make him a good fit at junior middleweight.  It will probably be in that loaded division where he will make his mark and payday in the boxing world.  The good thing is that Thurman will continue to fight on free t.v. so this will not be the “Last Time” that many people see Keith “One Time” Thurman.

Professor Clifford Benton can be reached at cliffb@puresportsny.com

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