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Thurman and Lopez Face Off, Two Days From Main Event Battle in BK

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Everyone behaved, and so after making weight on Friday, it’s all over but the fighting.

Keith Thurman tops the bill Saturday at Barclays Center, and all eyes will be on him..and his elbow….and his hand…and his shoulder. The Floridian’s injuries kept him sidelined, and I much appreciated that he’s admitted that he battled the blues while on hiatus.

That cloud lifted, it was clear, if you saw him at Gleason’s Wednesday and at Barclays Center for the final presser before the Saturday slate of bouts to run on Fox (free FOX, over air.) He seems over the moon to be able to do what he now KNOWS he loves more than anything, that being prize fighting, but that wasn’t a given as injuries piled up.

A car accident impacted his neck before the recent spate of boo-boos, so all of us who root for one of the sport’s best combos of skills and intellect and charm are hoping his body holds as he battles Josesito Lopez in BK.

By the way, I talked with an in the know fight game lifer about this presser and what some of the storylines are, and that person told me to pay extra attention to the Claudio Marrero-Tug Nyambayar clash.

That one should be a fan friendly rumble, I was told.

And we talked welterweights, and how dust needs to settle before things become more clear in the division.

This boxing buddy also said that Terence Crawford should not have any strong claim on being pound for pound No. 1, because his resume, as compared to Thurman’s, doesn’t suggest he’s beaten enough top grade pugilists to warrant it.

I replied, I hear you…and I hope that this all gets sorted the smartest way I know…in the ring, with the top grade hitters who maybe have a claim to P4P No. 1 meeting each other and fighting it out.

Here are quotes from the presser:

BROOKLYN (January 24, 2019) – One day before they weigh-in for their primetime showdown, welterweight world champion Keith “One Time” Thurman and veteran contender Josesito Lopez went face-to-face at the final press conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes event from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™. 

Thursday’s press conference also saw stare downs from rising Polish heavyweight contender Adam Kownacki and former title challenger Gerald Washington, who meet in a 10-round attraction, and hard-hitting featherweights Claudio Marrero and Tugstsogt Nyambayar, who meet in a 12-round showdown that opens the telecast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.  

Here is what the fighters had to say at Thursday’s press conference from the Barclays Center GEICO Atrium that aired live on FS2 and can be re-watched on the FOX Sports App: 

KEITH THURMAN “It’s a tremendous feeling to be back in this position. It’s an honor to be working with FOX and I’m excited for this new platform. I’ve got new health and I’m just ready for Saturday night. 

“I’ve been to several fights in my time off and it’s felt like a lifetime. Saturday night, the champ is back. Brooklyn, we’re here. “

There’s always a little level of nerves for a fight, but it’s mostly anticipation. This is the world class level. I’m proud to be champion and I always want to be champion. The nerves are very natural, but they are not overpowering. I like to carry some nerves with me for each fight. 

“Josesito has a lot of confidence. He has been training hard and I know that’s where his confidence comes from, because that’s where I get it from. When I’m on the battlefield, I go to war.  

“It’s always my job to do my best. Win, lose or draw, people will have something to say about it. I’m fighting to stay at the top. We want to showcase our skills and remind people that I am ‘One Time’ and I am a big puncher. I’m going to have fun in there.  

“I can find so many avenues to win. Josesito Lopez is a good fighter, but he’s like swiss cheese, he’s got holes throughout. It’s only a matter of me exposing them round-by-round.  

“There shouldn’t be any hesitation in my game. We took this fight because we’re prepared. If anything was to occur, like if I were to feel some bumps and bruises in the fight, people have seen me fight through hematoma and some hard shots. I’m a tough egg to crack. No matter what shape I’m in, when it’s time to go to war, we fight.  

JOSESITO LOPEZ “I’m always in tough battles because I don’t shy away from them. I’m in a tough fight this weekend but I’m more than ready for it.  

“Like any boxer, my confidence comes from my preparation. I feel like I’m at the championship level. I prepared well and I’ll have no excuses at the end of the night, no matter the result. 

 “In preparation for a fight like this, you have to look at bad habits and mistakes your opponent has made. You can’t find a losing fight with Keith, but he’s been in fights that have shown some flaws that he has in his game.  

“I don’t know if Keith is overlooking me, but whatever the situation is, it will show in the ring. I’ve prepared for the best Keith Thurman and I’m prepared for Saturday night.  

“In training camp we train in a family atmosphere. Robert Garcia has a family engagement this weekend, but I have the guru ‘Big G’, Eduardo Garcia, in my corner. We might even have a little surprised this weekend with Robert Garcia virtually checking in.” 

ADAM KOWNACKI “I was born in a small city in Poland and came here when I was seven. Every fight keeps getting bigger and bigger. I was an amateur when Barclays Center first started and now I’m the co-main event. I hope the next time here I’m the main event, that’s the goal. 

“I think like all my fights, I’m going to go in and dictate the pace of the fight. Unless he can do something new, I think it’s going to go the way my past fights have gone. I’m going to bring the pressure and try to make my opponent fold. 

“Washington is a big guy, but I have tactics to work through it. I have to go to the body, work the double jab and get inside to do my work. “Hearing the Polish fans in my corner is great. But once the bell rings, you go to that focused mode. You know they’re cheering with you, but you’re totally focused on the fight and what your opponent is trying to do.” 

GERALD WASHINGTON “I’ve had great learning opportunities in my losses. I started my career late and I’ve been learning on the job. Every time I step into the ring, it’s a learning opportunity, win lose or draw, I have to take something from it. 

“My fight against Deontay Wilder gave me confidence that I belong at the top. I didn’t have all the tools at that moment, but I’d never turn down an opportunity to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.

 “I learn something from all of my fights. The wins and the losses. I’ve taken things and added it to my arsenal because you can’t ever stop learning in this game. The focus that is necessary at every moment was something I really learned from the Wilder fight.  

“This is do or die, sink or swim. We have to look at every opportunity like that. I’ve done everything in my power to prepare for this fight. I did all my homework, did all the sparring and conditioning, I mentally prepared and I’m ready for Saturday night.” 

CLAUDIO MARRERO  “I have to win explosively like I always have. I have to earn that right to fight the top featherweights like Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell. “I respect my opponent, but I don’t believe he’s fought tough enough opponents to be ready for what I bring to the ring. Having said that, we left no stone unturned and I’ve trained 100 percent for this. “I’m here to give the fans a great fight and earn the opportunity to get to the world title again. This is a fight that could definitely steal the show.” 

TUGSTSOGT NYAMBAYAR “This is my toughest fight to date and I’ve trained with a lot of southpaws who have prepared me for this opportunity. I’ve gained a lot of experience since I turned pro and I’m going to show it Saturday. “I’ve trained very hard and I’ve focused on what I need to do Saturday. My team and I have a great plan and if I listen to my coach and make adjustments I know that I will be victorious. “I hope that this leads me to a world title shot. That’s why we started this journey in the pros and after Saturday night, no one will be able to deny me that opportunity.” 

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About Michael Woods

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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