Undefeated WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman returns to boxing after an almost two-year hiatus this weekend. The 30-year-old Florida native faces former world title challenger Josesito Lopez, 34, on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Thurman is a huge favorite in the contest. Top boxing bookmakers expect Thurman, at -10000, to successfully defend his title against Lopez (+1600) with relative ease. However, for those betting on boxing, there are some savvy bets to make.
When he’s active, Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is considered one of the very best fighters in the talent-laden welterweight division. No matter what kind of challenge has been placed before him inside a boxing ring, Thurman has always found a way to deliver the win.
Thurman is a boxer-puncher with solid footwork and devastating one-punch power. By welterweight standards, he’s a relatively large fighter in that he began his career at 154 pounds and worked his way down after six years as a professional.
Thurman settled nicely in the 147-pound division, and by the end of 2017, he was largely considered the very best active welterweight fighter in the world.
But with injuries mounting in his body, Thurman took a break from boxing after tough bouts against welterweight stars Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Thurman won both fights, unifying the WBA and WBC welterweight titles in the process, but he suffered an elbow injury that required surgery so he gave his ailing body a break.
While he relinquished the WBC title last year, he maintained his status as the WBA champion even without fighting. That doesn’t mean much to this fight, but it does give him additional negotiating power with the other top welterweights should he beat Lopez as most expect.
Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) is a solid professional who has been in the ring with some of the very best fighters in boxing. He employs an exciting style and has enough power in both hands to do real damage so long as he can land his punches.
His best win came against former world champion Victor Ortiz in 2012. He parlayed that upset victory into a bout against Canelo Alvarez later that year for Alvarez’s junior middleweight title but was thoroughly outclassed in a five-round knockout loss.
Lopez has mostly been a gatekeeper since. He’s good enough to beat opponents who aren’t truly elite, but anyone capable of becoming a legitimate world champion usually runs him ragged.
He’s on a three-fight win streak since being knocked out by Andre Berto in 2015 but has only averaged one fight a year over that same timespan.
Lopez fits the bill to be Thurman’s comeback bout precisely because he’s accomplished enough to be deemed promotable but isn’t really dangerous enough to be any kind of threat to Thurman assuming the champion returns to boxing in the same form in which we saw him last.
Thurman probably needs some rounds to get back into top fighting form, so Lopez should provide him at least that. But Thurman is -10,000 for a reason, so there’s no reason to believe the bout should turn out to be anything but a decisive Thurman win.
With such steep pricing in the bout, it’s probably best to avoid the outright win market altogether. Lopez is older than Thurman, less athletically gifted and hasn’t really been active enough to warrant consideration for the upset.
Thurman is a patient fighter in that he doesn’t press for the knockout unless it’s there. Still, better versions of Lopez have been stopped by worse fighters than Thurman, so backing Thurman by KO, TKO or DQ at -225 with 888Sport is probably the best bet on the board.
That, or you can pay a tad more at -230 to hedge against the possibility that Lopez just gets lucky somewhere and bet “No” on the Fight to Go The Distance Market.
After all, the likely winner, Thurman, is probably going to knock Lopez out, and if Lopez does pull the upset, it’s likely to happen all of a sudden from a perfectly placed punch Thurman doesn’t see coming.
Looking at the rounds market, the bookies seem to think that if Thurman stops Lopez, he’ll most likely do it during rounds 7-9 at +333.
But when I see Lopez’s last three knockout losses have come in the fifth and sixth rounds, I think the best way to take a decent gamble for a potentially solid return is by backing Thurman in rounds 4-6 at +400 with Betfair. That gives Thurman three rounds to get his legs under him again and three more to finish the job.
Bet with the Expert Edge - Stats, Insights & Specials
Read Review ||BET NOW||T&Cs Apply. 18+ Gamble Responsibly|
Get Yourself Over The Line
Read Review ||BET NOW||18+. T&C Apply|
Gallops, Trots, Greyhounds & More - Join Now
Read Review ||BET NOW||18+. T&C Apply|
Be the first to receive the latest welcome offers, free bets, tips and strategy