Keith Thurman’s long-awaited return to the ring was finally made official Saturday night.
Premier Boxing Champions announced during FOX’s live boxing broadcast from Minneapolis that Thurman will meet Mario Barrios in the main event of a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View show February 5. Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) and Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs) have agreed to square off in a 12-round fight that’ll mark Barrios’ official move up to the welterweight division.
The site for the card headlined by Thurman-Barrios wasn’t announced during FOX’s telecast.
Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) hasn’t fought in more than 2½ years. The 33-year-old former WBA/WBC 147-pound champion last boxed in July 2019, when Manny Pacquiao dropped Thurman in the first round and edged him by split decision in a back-and-forth 12-rounder at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Thurman, of Clearwater, Florida, had hand surgery a month-and-a-half after his loss to Pacquiao. The COVID-19 pandemic extended his lengthy layoff, though Thurman will be the last of PBC’s high-profile fighters to return to the ring since it began in March 2020.
Barrios, meanwhile, will fight for the first time since undefeated Gervonta Davis dropped him three times and stopped him in the 11th round of their June 26 bout at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
PBC also announced the three fights that’ll compose the Thurman-Barrios pay-per-view undercard.
In the 12-round co-feature, four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KOs) will oppose Phoenix’s Keenan Carbajal (23-2-1, 15 KOs).
In another welterweight bout, Abel Ramos (27-4-2, 21 KOs), of Casa Grande, Arizona, will square off against Josesito Lopez (38-8, 21 KOs), of Riverside, California.
In the 122-pound opener of the telecast, undefeated Phoenix native Carlos Castro (27-0, 12 KOs) will fight former WBC bantamweight and super bantamweight champion Luis Nery (31-1, 24 KOs). The southpaw from Tijuana will try to bounce back from his loss to Brandon Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs), who knocked him out in the seventh round of their WBC 122-pound championship match May 15 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.