BROOKLYN — Bring on Manny Pacquiao!
After sitting out for two years because of hand and elbow injuries, welterweight champion Keith Thurman won a majority decision over Josesito Lopez on Saturday night and went a step beyond trying to unify the welterweight title belts.
Pacquaio currently has a record of 61-7-2 as a professional, with 39 wins by knockout, and is the WBA welterweight champion after he defeated Adrien Broner by unanimous decision on Jan. 19 in Las Vegas. He is currently serving as a Senator in the Philippines on six-year term that runs until 2022, and is considered a top contender for Philippine presidential election in 2022.
Incumbent president Rodrigo Duterte has said twice that he intends to make Pacquiao his successor.
Thurman withstood a seventh-round flurry by Lopez and won handily on two of the three scorecards. Judge Tom Schreck had it 117-109 for Thurman and Steve Weisfeld had it 115-111, while Don Ackerman had it even at 113-113. The Associated Press had it 117-110 for Thurman.
Thurman ended the fight landing 247 punches to 117 from Lopez, and held the advantage in accuracy by landing over 27 percent of his punches to 23 percent from Lopez. It was the WBA champion’s first fight since March 4, 2017, before he was sidelined first by right elbow surgery and then an injured left hand.
“I was disappointed I couldn’t finish him and get him out of there,” said Lopez. “If he thinks he’s the best welterweight out there, then I want two through five lined up for me.”
What happens next in the welterweight division is anyone’s guess … same as the heavyweights.
On the undercard, a large contingent of fans waving Polish flags was on hand to watch Adam Kownacki of Brooklyn (19-0, 15 KOs) continue his climb up the heavyweight rankings by earning a second-round TKO victory over former title challenger Gerald Washington (19-3-1, 12 KOs).
“I trained hard for this fight,” said Kownacki. “I prepared for 10 hard rounds, but I’m glad I got it done and ended it as fast as I did. We stuck with the game plan. I’m a pressure fighter. I worked on sitting down on my punches and I proved that I have great power when I do that.”
Anthony Joshua (22-0-0) of Great Britain holds the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, and American Deontay Wilder (40-0-1) has the WBC belt. Tyson Fury of Britain is the No. 2 ranked heavyweight by Ring Magazine, holding a record of 27-0-1.
Kownacki got the action started early, landing a series of big punches that had Washington in trouble on the ropes. Kownacki landed 46 punches in total in the round, to just 12 from Washington.
Kownacki continued to come forward in round, hitting Washington with a straight right hand that forced him to hold onto the ropes, and another straight right that sent Washington to the canvas. Washington was able to get to his feet, but after Kownacki followed up with multiple right hands, referee Harvey Dock to halt the bout 1:09 into the second round.
“It’s amazing to have this support from the Polish fans,” said Kownacki. “It definitely gives me extra energy. I want to thank my team, because without them I wouldn’t be where I’m at. I want that belt!”
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