Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez, 12 rounds for Thurman's WBA welterweight title
Josesito Lopez was calm, composed, and concentrated during his walk in. He was 100% in the moment, he looked confident with Robert Garcia and his corner backing him up. It was like he was going to clock-in at the beginning of a hard shift. His head was high and his shoulders squared, ready for the task at hand.
Keith Thurman touched gloves and celebrated with fans as he made his way back into the ring after nearly two years. As he looked fondly into the crowd and waved, you could see Thurman's satisfaction with the Brooklyn fans.
Excited fans who heaped cheers and big expectations on him. Did he feel the pressure knowing that the crowd and “…millions watch around the world…” were assuming that this time better be “One Time”? Many fans and boxing pundits, Jab excluded, were forecasting a quick KO or a stoppage by the middle of the bout. Thurman's big comeback bout was ready to begin.
Keith started well against Josesito Lopez. He looked sharp, he moved with grace and balance, his counter-punches were landing, but as early as one minute into the 1st round an apprehensive moment flashed him. Lopez cornered Thurman and a nice left hook off a combination landed flush. That certainly caught Keith's attention after such a long time out of the ring.
But the Thurman of old came out for the 2nd round and jabbed wonderfully, which further allow him to land a few nice combinations as he tested the waters of “Riverside”. The counter left hook touched Lopez once or twice. As the round neared its end, Thurman jabbed to the high guard, shot a right to the body, and came back with a left hook as Lopez lunged in, chin high. It was nicely placed, Lopez's legs buckled, he went down, the crowd roared.
But if Keith Thurman, or anyone else watching thought the end was near, Lopez's response to the knockdown disappointed them sorely. With the stewardship of Robert Garcia and the confidence that they were actually getting to Thurman, Lopez looked better in the 3rd and started to rally slowly as the rounds progressed. “One Time” was clearly discouraged by the lack of effect his punches were having on Lopez, who stuck with the pressure strategy and displayed a chin that might warrant a change in nickname to “Ironside” Lopez.
The second half of the bout started poorly for Thurman, who was struggling to keep away from Lopez. “Ironside” seemed impervious to the “One Time's” shots and walked through his entire arsenal. Then it happened, that lapse in concentration, that tired moment of neglect from Thurman as he stumbled and dropped his hands on the ropes. Lopez placed a left that landed on the button and a wave of momentum crashed against Keith's chin. Then the 12 year veteran with over two dozen bouts failed to do the basic and fundamental defensive move called clinching. Not going to this survival technique means that Thurman was underestimating his situation, and/or he was too buzzed to think as his instincts failed him.
“The Riverside Rocky” continued to back up a now tired and distracted Thurman, who appeared to be slowly wilting. Lopez brought a consistent body attack and pushed his psychological advantage, which was the certainly of his relentless pressure in the face of someone who had hoped for an easier evening. Was Lopez breaking “One Time's” heart? Thought Lopez won five of the last six rounds on Jab's scorecard, but it was not enough as Thurman finished 115-112 ahead.
Wow, Lopez almost pulled it off!
The Majority Decision (Ackerman 113-113, Schreck 117-109, Weisfeld 115-111) was a tribute to how close it was. Ring rust is real, but maybe it is more than that. The result of this bout is that Thurman's chosen opponent for his comeback bout showed more resolve and better conditioning than he did. Jab finds himself thinking about Shawn Porter, or Danny Garcia who probably watched the bout thinking, “Oh lord, now I want it two times with “One Time!” Bet you that Joselito Lopez will want the same. Props to the “The Riverside Rocky”.
Jab predicted it would go the distance, but did not count on such a close fight.
Adam Kownacki vs. Gerald Washington, Heavyweights boxing 10 rounds
Adam “Babyface” Kownacki (say ‘kov-naf-ski) made some finger-lickin' nuggets out of “El Gallo Negro” in front of his hometown crowd.
Washington tried hard to hold “Babyface” off with the long jab, but he quickly found himself backing up.
The Polish community and the entire Barclays Brooklyn crowd erupted with joy as the chubby Michelin Man waddled forward and roughed up the California Adonis in the first round. Minutes later it was a wrap as Kownacki did his best imitation of Donnie Trumpie shutting down Washington. Faster than Miller, faster than Wilder, just think about that for a moment. But the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy product was not done yet, rattling the heavyweight division was secondary compared to his next move.
Grabbing the mic after his interview he shushed the crowd and crowed, “…me and my wife, I'm gonna' be a daddy!”
“Babyface” has fought contenders and former belt-holders, handling them all he has continues to improve and develop. He remains undefeated at 19-0 and has stopped 15 of his opponents in an average of 2.8 rds/KO. Adam may look like a manbaby, but baby does he ever act like a man in that ring. 2019 will be the year of the heavyweight shake up and count on Kownacki to be a player.
Trainer Keith Trimble will create a champion, if he is able to accomplish two more improvements for his boxing ward.
First and most important, get Adam to keep his hands up. Second and most impressive, improve and expand the use of Adam's jab. A lazy flicking thing designed to distract and hypnotize the opponent while he checks his range. Mix in an occasion piston punch. Adam will then be able to throw combination off those jabs until he touches the guy. Jab thinks Sasha Povetkin would be the ideal next test to push up the ranks quickly.
Hook correctly picked the TKO winner, but foolishly thought it would come in the later rounds.
Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs Claudio Marrero, 12 rounds in the WBC featherweight eliminator.
It was Nyambayar biggest test in his career, so far. Props to him and his management for taking on a dangerous foe in Marrero, a former IBO title-holder. But “King Tug” did not just take him on, he took him to task for 12 rounds of domination as he out boxed his first profession southpaw to win the IBO Featherweight belt. Yes, it is a minor belt, and Jab would understand if you're thinking it is irrelevant. But just ask “King Tug” or any other belt holder and you'll see that belts are important to them, even without any monetary improvement.
“King Tug” was quicker, had a better eye and timing, threw accurate combinations, and was in control round after round. He repeatedly frustrated Claudio Marrero's attempts at offense forcing the “Matrix” to reboot each time his punches missed the mark. In a sometimes sloppy affair, referee Benjy Esteves Jr kept things tidy and was his usual, excellent ring official. The boxing display put on by “King Tug” was very entertaining for Jab and other aficionandos, who don't need knockdowns or KOs to be happy with a bout. But everyone was glad in the 10th round as we were entertained by three noteworthy events.
At the second referee break in the 1st minute the “Matrix” had a short circuit. On the break by Esteves Jr, Marrero reached across the ref and threw a quick right hook to Nyambayar's chin. It was part of a pattern of dirty boxing across the fight from Marrero. So Esteves's immediately deducted a point from Marrero, who looked like a man treading water alone, lost at sea.
Next, after a lovely flurry of shots from “King Tug”, Marrero clinched and was hit with a hard left uppercut low on his belt line. As he doubled over he must have realized that he had just received the “big payback'…
for tapping “Tug” on the break, a veteran move from the young Mongolian master. Finally, as the stymied “Matrix” again attempted some offense, “King Tug” bobbed away and let him come, taking one from Marrero he laughed it off as easily and avoided every other shot as the round closed.
The judges saw it closer than Jab, who feels that Tugstsogt Nyambayar won a dominant unanimous decision in his first pro bout versus a lefty. He is now a true contender as he next prepares to face WBC champion Gary Russell Jr (29-1, 17 KOs). What a funny coincidence that “Mr” Russell Jr just happens to be a southpaw, how convenient.
OK, Jab admits it. Pronouncing Tugstsogt Nyambayar's name during the DAZN.de live stream was even harder than saying Kownacki with respect to the Polish elocution. That's why nicknames are so nice in boxing, and they add a little color to the game.
Jab's advice, in the future just call this exciting and talented Mongolian prospect “King Tug”, because you'll be talking about him in 2019-2020 as becomes a bonafide champion.
Long live “King Tug”!
Congratulations to Marrero for surviving 12 rounds without a plan, and hardly a prayer. “King Tug” looked great. Jab picked Nyambayar to win, but was anticipating a mid-fight KO from the Mongol man. Hook went 3 for 3 on the Barclay card this weekend.
Jab Hook's 2019 predictions: 10 of 12 correct on January 27th = 83.3%
(2018: 92 of 112 correct = 82.1%, to date 102 of 124 correct = 82.8%)
Check NYFights.com this week for more of Jab Hook's boxing stuff.
“Jab Hook”, aka “Brooklyn” Joe Healy is a boxing expert commentator for DAZN.de, a professional cutman from the BOXWERK gym, and a licensed referee/judge in amateur boxing. A lifelong aficionado born in Brooklyn and living in Munich, “The Sweet Science” is his passion. Please feel free to contact him as Jab Hook on FaceBook, at [email protected], or on Twitter https://twitter.com/BoxAficionado