Keith Thurman Ready to Take on Josesito Lopez Saturday at Barclays Center

Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter are all champions and great fighters in the Welterweight division, but this Saturday will mark the return of arguably the king of the division.

After 22 months out due to various injuries, Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) will return to the ring. He will be taking on battle-tested veteran Josesito Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Thurman will be looking to defend his WBA title and re-establish himself as the top dog in the division. Lopez is going to attempt to upset the apple cart and dethrone the Welterweight champion.

This past Tuesday night both fighters were on a conference call answering various questions revolving around the fight and their mindsets going into the contest.

Josesito Lopez discussed if he’s bothered by the notion that he is considered an easy opponent by the fans.

“No, not at all,” said Lopez. “To the people that really know boxing and really know the inside of my camp and my training it won’t be a surprise when I pull off the victory.”

Lopez feels that his his mental preparation for the fight will make a difference.

“I’ve had a great preparation,” said Lopez. “I’ve been in the same training camp that Mikey Garcia trains for his fight. Everything has gone great. It went perfect. I can’t complain about training camp. I’m at championship level and I’m going to prove that I am championship material.”

While many people expect Lopez to jump on Thurman early in the match while he is still trying to shake off the ring rust, Lopez didn’t seem to agree with that plan.

“No I wouldn’t necessarily say that,” said Lopez. “I’m going in there with a smart game plan and win round by round. We’ve worked on every aspect of our game so were prepared mentally and physically. It’s not necessarily about going in there and jumping on him early. I’m prepared to go as many rounds as it might take.”

Lopez has been in the ring with a number of high-quality opponents including Victor Ortiz, Canelo Alvarez and Andre Berto. Lopez knows he’s facing a tough challenge but he feels that his experience and skills will help him prevail.

“I think overall my skill, my power and my will, will outshine all of these obstacles that I have to get through to get a victory against a champion like Keith Thurman,” said Lopez. “I’m going to win.”

When Thurman joined the call, he was immediately asked about his time off to which he expressed his frustrations of being out of the ring for so long.

“I just want to remind the world who Keith Thurman truly is,” said Thurman. “There were some times where I had some negative thoughts. The worst part is I’ve been out of the ring for two years. I was 28 years old the last time I fought–I’m 30 now. It’s just a little disappointing missing some of those years of my youth, but luckily I’m still in my prime and I have tons to give. At the end of the day we’re back in action. We’re really excited and we’re looking forward to the future.”

Thurman also discussed whether or not he would like an opportunity to fight Manny Pacquiao after his great performance over Adrien Broner last weekend.

“It’s interesting,” said Thurman. “I would love an opportunity to fight a legend such as Manny Pacquiao. If I was ever given such an opportunity it would be an honor and I would definitely take it.”

Thurman knows that he may have to alter his fighting style given the hand injuries he’s suffered, but he’s aware and ready to make adjustments if needed.

“It was painful enough to where it hurt to land a jab on my sparring partner with 16 ounce gloves on,” said Thurman. “If I can’t punch my sparring partner with a jab I’m not going to have a fight date. Maybe I have to make an adjustment in my fighting style or things of that nature. I have always been versatile. There is many ways to get to the finish line when it comes to a 12 round championship bout. The doctor told me that the hand might need monitoring throughout my whole career.”

Thurman knows he has a game opponent in front of him in Josesito Lopez and Saturday night the Florida native says he wants to know just why his opponent is so confident.

“His confidence. I’m interested in seeing where his confidence comes from,” said Thurman. “There has to be a logical reason. Where is it coming from. Maybe he feels stronger, maybe he feels faster. He is fully aware of my boxing style and that I do bring a lot to the ring. Speed, power, movement. Yet he is still confident so I want to see what that is all about this Saturday night. Maybe he is a new Josesito Lopez but what is new? I’ll find out in a few days.”

Keith Thurman takes on Josesito Lopez this Saturday, January 26, 2019 live on Premier Boxing Champions on Fox.

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