But for Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs), who escaped with a majority decision win on Saturday over Josesito Lopez (36-8, 19 KOs), was in the most trouble he’s ever been in as a pro, shaking off the rust after nearly 23 months away from the ring due to injuries.
Thurman landed 247-of-899 punches, but received 117-of-513 from Lopez, who severely staggered him many times in round seven, and again in round 10, answering an early second round knockdown by Thurman.
“He had me buzzed and shaken up in the seventh round, but I tried to stay on the outside away,” said Thurman following his third-straight win at Barclays Center. “I was a little off in my prediction of how long his arms were. He lunged in and was really willing to commit to the knockout.
“He came right for me,” he added. “I said you wouldn’t see the best Keith Thurman tonight, but you’d still see a world-class performance, and I gave you that tonight.”
Two months after outpointing Danny Garcia in March 2017, Thurman had surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow. After a lengthy recovery, he endured another setback, injuring his left hand.
A car accident also delayed his June 2016 encounter with Shawn Porter at Barclays Center, which many considered the Fight of the Year, after originally being scheduled in March.
Thurman plans to return later this year, and says he would like to take on boxing legend Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs), who decisioned Adrien Broner last Saturday despite turning 40 in December.
“I would definitely take the Manny Pacquiao fight this year,” Thurman said. “I feel good. I’m ready to fight wherever Pacquiao wants it.”
In the co-main event, Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) – a native of Greenpoint – knocked out former world title challenger Gerald Washington (19-3-1, 12 KOs) in the second round of their bout Saturday night.
“I prepared for 10 hard rounds, but I’m glad I got it done and ended it as fast as I did,” Kownacki said. “I worked on sitting down on my punches and I proved that I have great power when I do that.”
The fight was seen as a stepping stone for the Polish pugilist, as Washington’s only losses had been to WBC Champion Deontay Wilder and Brooklyn-born title chaser Jarrell Miller.
Kownacki passed the test, and to no one’s surprise he is the latest heavyweight to call out Wilder – who was in attendance with his family – after the bout.
“I want that belt!” he said.