This Saturday night features a variety of fights ranging from a so-so main event in Thurman vs. Lopez to more interesting matchups on the broadcast in Kownacki vs. Washington and Nyambayar vs. Marrero for the PBC on Fox. This weekend of boxing is not necessarily made for the casuals, although plenty will be tuned in to the top of the bill on Fox. Let’s hope the undercard fights give us something to talk about Monday morning.
Josesito Lopez is well past his prime but makes for a solid opponent for a fighter coming off an almost two-year hiatus in Keith Thurman. In Lopez’s last outing he knocked off unbeaten prospect Miguel Cruz on Fox last year. No one expected Thurman to take on a huge challenge coming off two separate injuries but at least we know what Josesito brings to the table. Lopez will show up to fight not just for a check as he’s shown time and time again versus Canelo Alvarez, Macros Maidana, & Victor Ortiz. Lopez has spent the last chunk of months working hard in the gym under the tutelage of Robert Garcia, so he should be in tip-top shape.
We pretty much know what to expect out of Lopez but what can’t assume to know everything about Keith Thurman. Close to 23 months out of the ring for Thurman will not be easy to hit the ground running once the opening bell rings. Ring rust, anxiety, pressure to look great facing a clear underdog will all come in play this Saturday, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
It will likely take a few rounds for Thurman to shake the cobwebs out before he becomes comfortable again. With the long layoff one wonders how aggressive Lopez will be in the early goings. Obviously Thurman has enough power in both hands to demand respect from the jump. But attacking Thurman may be a shock to his system, you got to figure the first say 3 or 4 frames are the best chance for Lopez.
Lopez has spoke of starting fast but remaining smart because of Thurman’s countering ability. One way or another if Lopez wants to win he will more than likely have to cut distance by closing the gap. Lopez shouldn’t blindly rage in. If he does it could be a very short night. Look for both men to be set on establishing a jab early one. Assuming Thurman needs a couple of rounds to warm up, don’t be surprised to see a 1-1 or 2-2 start.
Thurman will need to be patient in the early to mid rounds but once he finds his groove look for him to throw bombs via left hooks or overhead rights. The first several knockout-type punches Thurman throws could be off target as he calibrates, so this will be the moment for Lopez to time and counter a lunging ‘One Time’. Once hurt Lopez must go for broke throwing caution to the wind. It seems the one undeniable weakness for Thurman is him susceptible to body punches. Lopez best option is to use an active jab and exploit Thurman’s liver and solar plexus. This fight could start relatively slow but end up being somewhat competitive and action packed until Keith ends the show in fashion.
The co-feature pits two fringe contenders Adam Kownacki and Gerald Washington in a battle to see who can stay on the ladder in the heavyweight division rankings. Washington already got his title shot just short of two years ago. Gerald’s jab seemingly had him ahead of Deontay Wilder until the WBC champion caught him and not long after stopped Washington by technical knockout.
Washington’s jab and defense will be very important in every second of this fight. Judging Kownacki and Washington side to side in a lineup would be a mistake. Adam’s physique is not pretty and definitely not sculpted but he gets the job done. Say what you want about how Kownacki’s body looks, the dude is a blast to watch because he throws punches to try to KO is opposition.
The Polish native engaged in a war of sorts versus Iago Kiladze and Artur Szpilka. Adam’s last scrap with Charles Martin looked as though it may end early but went the full 10-rounds. This blogger thinks it will take a few minutes for this one to warm up but once it does we could get a solid back and forth fight.
However, let us not forget it’s a heavyweight matchup so it wouldn’t be shocking if it turned into a sloppy-stinker as well. Washington’s jab and calculated game plan will keep him in this fight for a while, at some point look for Kownacki to land an overhand loopy -punch that changes everything. Once Adam smells blood he will pump up the volume and dominate the rest of the way. Here’s hoping a mediocre start to the fight eventually leads to a good old fashion throw down.
The first bout of the Fox telecast between Claudio Marrero and Tugstsogt Nyambayar could steal the night. The winner of this WBC featherweight eliminator will be in line as a mandatory for Gary Russell Jr. and could meet up later this spring. After Marrero lost to Jesus Cuellar in 2013, he went on an 8-fight winning streaking that included an upset of 26-0 Carlos Zambrano. Later that same year in 2017 Marrero got stopped in the 7th round by Jesus Rojas.
Claudio bounced back last year with a surprise KO of Jorge Lara.
‘King Tug’ only has 10 professional fights but he’s been 10-rounds before, two fights ago versus an undefeated boxer Harmonito Dela Torre. Last summer Nyambayar stopped Oscar Escandon in the 3rd round and now he has his sights high in the featherweight division. Tugstsogt’s people are taking a bit of a risk facing a good puncher like Marrero. They must really feel he is ready to take a deep dive at 126. This will be a very entertaining tilt while it lasts and this hack-of-a-scribe can see both men either hurt or kissing the canvas.
Side Note: Make sure to check out the always exciting Jaime Mungia vs. Takeshi Inoue in the main event on DAZN this Saturday. Also, keep an eye out for the co-feature Jesus Rojas vs. Xu Can.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Net. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio