Thurman retains WBA welterweight title, ready for Pacquiao



MANILA, Philippines – Now, there’s no need to cajole Floyd Mayweather into fighting Manny Pacquiao again.

Marquee Keith Thurman is willing to face the Filipino icon anytime, anywhere.

Coming back from a 22-month layoff, Thurman knocked down Josesito Lopez in the 2nd round then weathered the challenger’s assault in the latter rounds to win by majority decision, 113-113, 115-111, 117-109, Saturday night, January 26 (Sunday, January 27, Manila time) and retain the World Boxing Association super welterweight crown at Barclays Center in New York.

Asked whether he’s willing to tangle with Pacquiao, the unbeaten Thurman (29-0, 22 Knockouts)  replied positively.

“I would definitely take it,”said Thurman during the ring interview, adding he’ll have to talk the matter over with his team and managers. “That’s a beautiful fight.”

A Pacquiao-Thurman title duel could easily be forged as both champions are under Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.

According to Thurman, he’s even willing to let Pacquiao choose the venue of the fight, certain to be bigger than Pacquiao-Broner, which turned out to be a box-office success for Showtime with over 400,000 pay-per-view buys and a sellout crowd of 13,025 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

"Maybe Brooklyn, maybe Vegas, wherever Manny Pacquiao wants it," Thurman said. "I'd even fight him in the Philippines if I have to."

Pacquiao over Porter

During the post-fight press conference, Thurman said he prefers fighting Pacquiao over Shawn Porter, the International Boxing Federation welterweight champion, and Errol Spence, king of the World Boxing Council 147-pound division.

The American said fighting a legend like Pacquiao is his priority, especially with time ticking on the 40-year-old eight-division world champion.

Thurman was fighting for the first time since edging Danny Garcia by split decision in March of 2017 to unify two 147-pound titles.

The next month he had surgery to remove calcium deposits from his right elbow, and as he was readying to return to the ring he suffered a left hand injury in March of 2018 that forced him to take more time off.

Nevertheless, he quickly took control against Lopez, moving well against the aggressive challenger and landing solid punches.

But Lopez had him on the run in the 7th, connecting with a huge left hook to Thurman's jaw and backing up the champion.

"He had me buzzed, he had me shaken up," Thurman admitted. "I was trying to stay on the outside. I just was a little off in my prediction of his long arms and the way that he was lunging in, willing to really swing and commit for the knockout. He was coming for me."

'World title performance' 

After another solid performance from Lopez in the 8th, Thurman regained control and said he'll only get better from here.

"I told everybody, you're not going to see the best Keith "One-time" Thurman after 22 months, but you will see a world title performance."

On the undercard, Polish-born, Brooklyn-based heavyweight Adam Kownacki remained unbeaten with a spectacular second-round technical knockout of former world title challenger Gerald Washington.

Kownacki improved to 19-0 with 15 wins inside the distance. He sent Washington to the canvas with a massive right hand in the 2nd round. Washington beat the count, but the referee called the halt moments later – at 1:09 of the 2nd round – as he failed to put up any defense under a barrage from Kownacki.

In a World Boxing Association featherweight eliminator, Mongolia's unbeaten Tugstsogt Nyambayar improved to 11-0 with 9 knockouts with a unanimous 12-round decision over Claudio Marrero.

Nyambayar won by scores of 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111 as Marrero, who had a point deducted for a low blow, fell to 23-3 with 17 wins inside the distance. –  With a report from Agence France-Presse