By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – As much as Josesito Lopez respects Keith Thurman, he couldn’t help but feel that the defending champion was afforded more margin for recovery than he would’ve been allowed.
Lopez claimed during their post-fight press conference late Saturday night that referee Steve Willis would’ve stopped their fight in the seventh round if he were hurt the way Thurman was damaged. A contemplative Willis took a close look at Thurman multiple times as Lopez pummeled him for much of the second half of that stunning seventh round at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I felt like it was, you know, it could’ve been one more punch away in many instances of that round,” Lopez said. “You know, I felt it if would’ve happened to me it would’ve been stopped. I know that. You know, but he could’ve easily stopped it. But maybe it was one punch away.”
Lopez’s complaint notwithstanding, Willis was right to afford Thurman leeway, even when it appeared Thurman was about to get knocked out by a huge underdog. Thurman survived Lopez hurting him badly in the seventh round to have a strong eighth round, during which Thurman quickly got his legs back under him and showed he had recovered from Lopez tattooing him with a perfect straight right hand and numerous hard power shots thereafter in the seventh round.
The 30-year-old Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC), in his first fight since March 2017, eventually earned a majority-decision victory over Lopez (36-8, 19 KOs, 1 NC).
Judges Tom Schreck (117-109) and Steve Weisfeld (115-111) scored 10 and eight rounds for Thurman, respectively. Judge Don Ackerman scored their entertaining encounter a draw (113-113).
CompuBox credited a more active, athletic Thurman for landing 130 more overall punches than Lopez, a 34-year-old veteran from Riverside, California.
Robert Garcia, Lopez’s trainer, realizes his fighter nearly pulled off what would’ve been an epic upset in the main event of a “PBC on FOX” tripleheader. Garcia also praised Thurman for showing such resolve during that trying seventh round.
“Look, Josesito landed so many good punches in that round that if the ref would’ve stopped it, I don’t think there would be too many people complaining,” Garcia said. “Keith is still a strong survivor. He did whatever it took to survive that round. He moved, he tried to do everything possible. You know, Josesito landed so many punches that if the ref would’ve stopped it – Steve was very close to stopping it – I don’t think there would’ve been too many people complaining. I think it would’ve been a fair stoppage. But he didn’t, and look, Keith still survived it and came back to continue boxing the way he was boxing. You know, he fought a great fight. He was in great shape. He’s got a great team behind him. You’ve gotta respect that, too.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.