The hematoma that left an nasty lump on Keith Thurman’s head Saturday night is drained, the blood collecting down around his left eye. It’s swollen, shut and ugly. And Thurman couldn’t be any happier.
Thurman took a hard-earned decision over Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, running his unbeaten record to 25-0 (21 KOs) and in the process, established himself on national television as one of the hottest fighters at 147 in the game. So the eye? Not a bad price to pay.
“I was excited about the fight, and I wanted to show Robert Guerrero who I was as a man and change his opinion of me,” Thurman said. “I’m sure his opinion has changed, and in the same moment, my opinion of him has changed. We’re both true warriors.”
Thurman was taken to a nearby hospital after the fight, but a precautionary CAT scan was negative. He suffered no fracture to the orbital bone.
Guerrero (32-3-1, 18 KOs) came out in the early rounds looking to counter, and Thurman admitted that surprised him. He expected Guerrero to pressure from the bell, but when he didn’t, Thurman had to take the fight to Guerrero. It’s a decision, Guerrero said, he wishes he had back.
"If I would have applied pressure right out of the gate, it would have changed the game. But I tried to fight a disciplined fight and to work behind my jab, which I wasn't throwing enough,” Guerrero said. “I wanted to land my combinations and do what I do."
Thurman eventually dropped Guerrero in the ninth round with right uppercut. After he got back up, Thurman pounced, looking to finish the job, but the gutsy Guerrero weathered the storm and came out looking for fire and blood in the 10th. It nearly didn’t get there. How close did Thurman think he was to knocking out Guerrero in the ninth?
“A few inches to the left,” he said.
If the fight was a national coming-out party for Thurman, it was revelatory for Guerrero. The Gilroy, California, native may have traveled better than Clearwater, Florida’s Thurman, and if the in-ring crowd was reflective of the broader audience, Guerrero could have the makings of a tough, unbreakable folk hero.
"I didn't win the fight, but I think that I won the heart of America,” Guerrero said. “This is the type of stuff that the boxing fans are writing. They want to see fights. They want to see guys that come and exchange and throw combinations and they let their punches go and they're not scared to get hit. That's what I came out and did, and to be able to do that on NBC and for all the fans around the world, and people that are not boxing fans, it's nice."
Thurman has the world in front of him now, whether that means Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana, Timothy Bradley or even division stalwarts Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao.
“I just want whoever wants to fight the champ,” Thurman said. “I’m 26 years old. It’s the first time in my career I own a world title. Whoever wants to fight the champ Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman can come get it.”