By Thomas Gerbasi
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York - Rising star Keith Thurman went the 12 round distance for the first time in the HBO World Championship Boxing co-main event, and even though the knockout artist from Clearwater, Florida wasnt able to take out former IBF welterweight champion Jan Zaveck, he did more than enough to win a shutout unanimous decision and the WBO intercontinental title.
Scores were 120-108 across the board for Thurman, who ups his record to 20-0 with 18 KOs and 1 NC; Ptuj, Slovenias Zaveck falls to 32-3 with 18 KOs. It was Thurmans first decision win since November of 2009.
"He's truly a veteran of the sport and it was a great boxing lesson for me, said Thurman.
Zaveck fought aggressively in the first round, stalking behind a high guard that he would drop when winging hooks at Thurman, who made him pay with face-reddening jabs and power shots that earned him the frame.
There was no let-up to the action throughout the second and third rounds, with Zaveck staying close and firing off shots that may not have hurt Thurman, but they got his attention. Thurman was the more effective of the two though, with his shots knocking Zaveck back a step or two with each swing.
Thurmans thudding shots continued to draw oohs and aahs from the crowd in the fourth and fifth rounds, and for good reason, as Zaveck appeared to be slowing down under the increasing assault. In the sixth though, Zaveck seemed to get a second wind, even tagging Thurman with a wild overhand right. Thurman was unbothered by the shot, with his lateral movement and sharp combinations keeping him far in the lead as the bout approached its midway point.
It was more of the same in rounds seven through nine, with Thurman in complete control of the bout even though Zaveck gamely chased him and made it a fight, albeit a one-sided one.
And despite Zavecks courageous effort, it was clear by this point that he didnt have the power to hurt Thurman, leaving the Floridian in a position to continue teeing off on Zaveck without any concern for any incoming fire.
By the end of round ten, a series of hard right hands finally had Zaveck in trouble, but he was able to make it to the bell, and after a minutes rest he was back at it in rounds 11 and 12, finishing on his feet, even if not with a victory.