Keith Thurman took on Diego Chaves in the Showtime TV opener, and the fight came out of the gate hard and fast. No way this could go twelve, it looked like. But the pace settled and it went deeper than many expect. Thurman kept on pressing, and after knocking down Chaves in the ninth, he sent him to the mat out, for a count out win, in round ten at the AT and T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
The end came at 28 seconds of the tenth for Thurman, and his stock rises hard with the win, because he had to dig down, make some adjustments, and showed that he doesn't just flourish early, he can come on late and get 'er done.
Al Haymon fighters sometimes draw extra attention and scorn, some positing that they get to take an easier rode to the promised land through connections. But to my eye, while skillful management and connections can indeed pave the way, once there, it is up to the fighters to either put up, and shut up the Haymon-bashers, or not. Some, like a Sharif Bogere, do indeed get exposed, but then there is a Thurman, who has pretty much come out of nowhere in the last year, and is a pleasant addition to the pugilism sphere.
Thurman (21-0 with 19 Kos) was ahead on all three cards, by four, two and four points.
After the win, Jim Gray spoke to Thurman. The victor was asked if a hurt nose in round three forced him to switch it up. He thanked San Diego, a bad flub, and realized he meant San Antonio. He said no, he expected to switch things up throughout. Thurman said that he saved up a mean body shot for later, because he knew Chaves (22-1) would fade some.
Chaves' power surprised and dismayed Thurman early. And, I dare, say, many fans who haven't seen the Argentine in action. Would the Floridian adjust and tweak his game to take out the 27-year-old Argentina boxer, who came in with the WBA interim welter crown? In round six, we saw "One Time" get countered by a sharp right after Thurman looked to land his own right hand bomb. The bout went from slugfest to a more measured pace and tone by this time. That pace let Thurman move more, box more, and maybe win the round.
Chaves' corner told him "he's dying there" after the seventh, a solid round in which Chaves landed a sharp right midway through. In the eighth, another tight one, Chaves worked so well to the body. His right hand to Thurman's lower chest kept Thurman from committing as he's been used to doing on the way up the ladder.
A body shot dropped Chaves with 55 seconds left in the ninth, though. Thurman feinted with a weak jab, dipped down and ripped the left to the body. "Put your batteries on!" Chaves' corner yelled after the round.
In the tenth, Thurman swarmed to begin the round. Chaves went down, and the Argentine was counted out before the count of ten. A left to the body, and double left to the head hurt him a bit, and a clubbing right put him to the floor. He was on his hands and knees. The ref waved it off at the count of seven.
Thurman went 118-407, to 107-453 for the loser.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV