By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Keith Thurman admitted Tuesday he wasn’t quite in the type of shape he would’ve preferred when he fought Josesito Lopez.
Thurman was as heavy as 183 pounds during his 22-month layoff and spent plenty of time losing weight while preparing to face Lopez on January 26. That impacted Thurman’s performance in a 12-round fight Thurman won by majority decision.
Manny Pacquiao could tell when he watched that fight that Thurman wasn’t as sharp or well-conditioned as usual.
“He was kind of slow and I think he underestimated his opponent,” Pacquiao told BoxingScene.com following a press conference at Gotham Hall in Manhattan to promote their July 20 bout. “He was not in 100-percent condition in that fight.”
Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) knocked down Lopez in the second round of their fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Lopez survived that trouble and came back to hurt Thurman with a straight right hand in the seventh round.
Thurman spent much of the remainder of that round moving away from Lopez (36-8, 19 KOs). By the eighth round, Thurman seemed to have recovered.
The WBA “super” welterweight champion went on to control the remainder of their fight. Thurman beat Lopez on the scorecards of judges Tom Schreck (117-109) and Steve Weisfeld (115-111), but judge Don Ackerman scored their fight a draw (113-113).
The Clearwater, Florida, native’s victory over Lopez marked Thurman’s first fight since he defeated Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia by split decision in their welterweight title unification fight in March 2017 at Barclays Center. Surgery to remove calcium deposits from his right elbow the following month and later a deep bruise to his left hand kept Thurman out of the ring for nearly two years.
Now that Thurman has 12 rounds under his belt this calendar year, Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) thinks he’ll battle a better version of Thurman in their FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event July 20 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“This fight, I expect him to be 100 percent,” Pacquiao said. “He will work hard and prepare well for this fight.”
The Filipino southpaw expects Thurman to be every bit as good as he was when he beat Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs) and Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) in what previously have been the biggest fights of his career.
“I don’t want to underestimate Keith,” Pacquiao said. “He’s 30 years old. He will work hard, I’m sure, for this fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.