Well, he did what he was supposed to do and got the all-important “W.” Yes, Keith Thurman 25-0 (21) pretty much had things his way and won a lopsided decision over the determined but somewhat limited Robert Guerrero 32-3-1 (18) this past Saturday night. Prior to the bout everyone knew that as fighters at the world class level, Thurman held practically every advantage over Guerrero one fighter could hold over another except experience and toughness. After 12-rounds of spirited boxing, Thurman basically confirmed what we already knew.
We knew he was faster, punched harder, had a more imaginative offense and is the more aesthetically pleasing fighter to watch. However, Keith Thurman is, at least if you listen to many boxing observers, thought to be big time. And with the welterweight landscape about to change drastically within the next year, Thurman was and I guess still is the frontrunner and seen as a fighter to keep an eye on. No, that really hasn't changed, but I'll tell you what has changed – Thurman's cell phone will be blowing up with offers to fight other upper-tier welterweights jockeying for the same pole position that he is currently slotted.
Granted, I know Robert Guerrero is a tough fighter to look good against, and I said before the bout I wasn't expecting Thurman to win via stoppage. Keith dominated on the scorecards, but let’s face it, he's the bigger man, and did do what he wanted with Guerrero for most of the fight. However, Guerrero is easy to hit, isn't much of a puncher and isn't a full-fledged welterweight. And it also cannot be overlooked Thurman entered the ring at 162 and held a significant weight advantage.
Based on this past weekend’s showing, Thurman looked more like an athlete who throws accurate punches, but at times I think he gets caught in between styles and is unsure of his identity. He seems to wing it minute to minute and is unsure of what he's trying to do aside from looking for the knockout. He tried to go to Guerrero's body, but was often countered to the head by Robert. No, he was never hurt or in any trouble, but he did have to reset and work his way back in all over again. And when he did try to force Guerrero to the ropes, Robert routinely nailed him with counter left leads before he was pinned with his back to the ropes. Smartly, Thurman didn't go crazy trying to blast Guerrero out when he saw that he was being set up, and that's a positive sign. Then again once it was established Guerrero could handle his power and wasn't going anywhere, it seemed as if Thurman started to slightly doubt himself until he scored the knockdown in the ninth round. After the knockdown his confidence was rejuvenated but he seemed to tire and didn't finish the fight strong.
Thurman may have passed the eye test with many quasi boxing fans, but the card he was headlining was purposely put together with the idea of showcasing him as a future star fighter. He was supposed to make the fans watching long to see him again, and I just don't think he did that. I can't say that he's improved all that much over the last year. And I'm not sure he can improve further with Dan Birmingham.
What Thurman did against Guerrero was enough to clear the expectation bar but not sail over it. He didn't shock and amaze like some were counting on him doing. His flashes of physical brilliance will hold fan interest a little while longer, but after that I don't know? I don't think Thurman will have much trouble in the future finding quality opponents to take him on. And if that turns out to be the case, he'll make some money, and that he deserves. He is still young at age 26, so he hasn't fully flowered yet as a fighter, but he is on the clock. I for one am still waiting for the breakout fight in which he finally blends his physical skill with some fighting aptitude, and I don't think I saw it versus Robert Guerrero. There were positive signs of that during the fight but not enough for him to emerge as a breakout star. Until then my judgment on his star quotient is still on hold.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com