By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – The final one minute and 42 seconds of the seventh round of his last fight tested Keith Thurman’s mettle unlike any stretch of his career.
The silver lining, according to Thurman, is that those troublesome moments against Josesito Lopez on January 26 just might’ve convinced Manny Pacquiao to fight him. The 40-year-old Pacquiao had soundly defeated Adrien Broner the previous Saturday night in Las Vegas and was looking for his next opponent.
If nothing else, Thurman’s vulnerability against Lopez probably helped him land the biggest fight of his career, even though Pacquiao hasn’t admitted as much.
The 30-year-old Thurman addressed at a recent press conference how he thinks that fateful seventh round led to him signing a contract to oppose Pacquiao on July 20 in a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“What’d [Pacquiao] say at the end? God is good? God is good all the time?,” Thurman told a group of reporters after a press conference at Gotham Hall in Manhattan. “Everything happens for a reason, man. This is truly a blessing. [Lopez’s] left hook could’ve been a blessing in disguise, because obviously some people do feel that it might’ve created the vulnerable look that might’ve gave Manny Pacquiao the confidence to sign the contract.
“You know, a lot of people believe that you’re only as good as your last fight. The only thing was my last fight was a tune-up, you know? I’m a world champion and I showed that when a tough fighter like Josesito Lopez tries to take advantage of a champion like Keith Thurman, off of a 22-month layoff, because that boy came to fight. He always comes to fight, but we know on that night we saw one of the best Josesito Lopez we’ve seen in a long time. And I still defeated the man, OK?”
Thurman’s determination enabled him to move away from Lopez and fight his way to the end of that riveting seventh round.
Lopez’s left hook initially buzzed Thurman with 1:42 to go in that round. Another left hook by Lopez and a subsequent straight right hand hurt Thurman more several seconds later.
By the eighth round, however, Thurman regained control of their 12-round fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
When it ended, judges Tom Schreck (117-109) and Steve Weisfeld (115-111) had Thurman ahead. Judge Don Ackerman scored their fight even (113-113).
Nevertheless, Thurman won a majority decision and retained his WBA “super” welterweight title. The 30-year-old Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC), of Clearwater, Florida, will defend that title against the Philippines’ Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs), who’s 10 years old than Thurman.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.