The Welterweight division is already jammed pack with talent, but it just got a huge boost when reigning WBA and former unified champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) made his return after 22 months off.
He successfully defeated Josesito Lopez (36-8, 19 KOs) on Saturday, January 26, 2019, who deserves a ton of credit for the effort he put forth against Thurman.
Hate him or love him–you’ve got to respect One Time. He looked a bit rusty against Lopez, but for someone who is coming off such a long layoff he looked impressive. The Welterweight division has a ton of talent so finding him a suitable dance partner for his next bout shouldn’t be too hard of an issue.
Don’t expect to see him in the ring with the likes of Errol Spence Jr. or Terence Crawford just yet. Even with those guys off the table, Thurman still has plenty of solid names to choose from.
Take a look at who we feel are his next best options.
It wasn’t a vintage performance for Keith Thurman this past Saturday night, but it was good enough to get the job done against the rough and rugged Josesito Lopez.
The critiques of his performance are getting a little out of hand. Outside of a very shaky seventh round where Thurman was in serious trouble, he dominated the fight. Thurman used the ring well and landed plenty of hard shots.
He just needs to iron out a few of the kinks in his game and he’ll be right back to where he was prior to the injuries. To get back to that form he needs a step up in competition.
Andre Berto (32-5, 24 KOs) was once a big time player in the division. He was after all the WBC champion for over three years. He isn’t nearly the force that he once was, but he isn’t quite gate keeper status either.
Berto can provide Thurman with an opponent who provides not only a solid name, but also someone who can give the champ a stiff test.
Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) proved that even at age 40, he has plenty left in the tank. The future hall-of-fame boxer turned senator looked great against Lucas Matthysse last year, knocking him out in Round 7. He also looked impressive in his most recent ring return, a unanimous-decision victory over the continuously underachieving Adrien Broner.
Pacquiao’s last loss came at the hands of Jeff Horn in 2017, but let’s be honest here, those were poor scorecards turned in by the judges. It’s borderline ridiculous how good Pacquiao still is at his age.
Keith Thurman is the WBA Welterweight “super” champion, while Pacquiao holds the “regular” version. A fight between these two would be one to remember. During Thurman’s post-fight press conference he mentioned fighting Pacquiao several times.
In years past it was extremely difficult to match up Pacquiao with certain Welterweights. Now that he’s on the PBC side of the street, that no longer is an obstacle. Beating Josesito Lopez is one thing. Beating Manny Pacquiao is something entirely different.
First and foremost Shawn Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) has to get through the extremely dangerous Yordenis Ugas on March 9. Assuming he does (which is no guarantee) then a rematch of Porter and Keith Thurman’s classic bout from 2016 can and should be in play.
Porter is a helluva fighter and he is the current WBC Welterweight champion, but there is a major asterisk next to that title. Porter never defeated Thurman, instead he defeated Danny Garcia for the vacant crown after Thurman gave the belt up. For Porter, he needs to secure a victory against Thurman to legitimize his title.
Thurman has already been on the record stating that this year is his get back year. He has also made it clear that he wants both his WBC title and his status as unified champion. In order to make that a reality he will have to get through Porter once again.
The first fight was great, but the sequel could be even better. Let’s get these two back in the ring asap.