Boxing made a return to prime time television as Al Haymon’s new series ‘Premier Boxing Champions’ aired its debut show on NBC this Saturday night. The series that aims to bring the very best of boxing back to the mainstream kicked off with a stellar main even between unbeaten knockout artist Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman and former featherweight champion, Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero. This was a marquee match up with big implications in the talent rich welterweight division.
For Thurman, this was by far his biggest test to date as he continues to make his rise in the sport. Standing opposite of Thurman was Robert Guerrero, the tough veteran who had only tasted defeat twice in his career, one being to pound for pound star, Floyd Mayweather Jr. The winner of this match would walk away with the WBA world welterweight title.
Keith Thurman wasted no time at the start of the fight, immediately attacking Guerrero from the opening bell. It was clear early that Keith Thurman was the faster of the two fighters and he took advantage of that by unloading quick power punches to both the head and body of Guerrero. ‘The Ghost’ looked to stay composed amidst the early barrage of Thurman and managed to land a right hook of his own in the opening round.
After the slow start, Robert Guerrero started the second round with more intent, letting his hand go more and finding a home for his punches. Thurman retook control of the fight when he stunned Guerrero with a well placed combination and finished off the round with a powerful right cross.
Guerrero started the third round by throwing out his jab, looking to figure out his opponent and turn the tide of the fight. Robert managed to land his most significant punches in round three, reminding Keith Thurman that he still was in the fight. ‘One Time’ refused to back off and still landed a couple of blows, but Guerrero did the better work in the round.
Keith Thurman began to develop swelling on his forehead as a result of an accidental headbutt in the round three — fortunately, it was not limiting his vision of threatening to be a fight ending injury. The WBA champ, Thurman, went right back to work in the fourth, punishing the body of the 31 year old Guerrero and being far more active in the round.
‘One Time’ began to pull away on the scorecards in the following rounds. The biggest advantage that Thurman held was not his power but his speed. Robert Guerrero began to look slower and at times looked lost as he was unable to get any rhythm going, while Thurman just picked his shots from range and moved smoothly around the ring. As a result of the punches Guerrero took, his eyes began to show damage as the rounds added up.
By the ninth round, Keith Thurman was in clear command of the fight, having outclassed ‘The Ghost’ for large stretch of the bout. Thurman’s motto is “KO’s for life” and he came extremely close to getting the stoppage in the ninth. A right uppercut to the chin sent the iron chinned Guerrero to the canvas. After making it up to his feet, Guerrero was still visibly dazed and Thurman jumped in looking for the kill. A bloodied Guerrero did enough to survive the final seconds and make it to the next round.
Robert Guerrero made it to the tenth round, but he was not out of the woods yet, as Keith Thurman looked to continue the assault from the previous rounds. Showing his heart, Guerrero battled back and for the first time in the fight managed to get his opponent up against the ropes. Both fighters traded shots on the inside but Thurman’s appeared to have more power behind them.
It was clear that both fighters were in superb condition and they battled hard for the last two rounds. No one can question the toughness and determination of Robert Guerrero, he took all that Thurman could offer and still looked to win the fight. On his behalf, ‘One Time’ Thurman put on an amazing performance and despite not getting the stoppage, he showed the effectiveness of his skills, speed and power on one of the tougher fighters in the division. The final scorecards read: 120-107, 118-109, 118-108, all in favor of Keith Thurman.
With the win, Keith Thurman showed that he is deserving of his name being mentioned as a future opponent of Floyd Mayweather Jr, and also proved that he is the best young welterweight and is someone that could carry the division in the future. Guerrero on the other hand showed great heart and determination in the later rounds and seems to be a fighter that could still contend for another title shot. Time will tell where each fighter will go from here, but in a sport that desperately needs positive attention, these two warriors carried the show and made the debut of ‘Premier Boxing Champions’ a success.