Unbeaten Keith Thurman lays out his Greatest Hits

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They don’t call him “One Time” because he hands out love taps. Yet of Keith Thurman’s three most memorable fights, he picked one decision among his Greatest Hits. Go figure.

He hopes to add one more memorable fight when he takes on Robert Guerrero at 8:30 p.m. ET March 7 live on NBC in the Premier Boxing Champions debut at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

3 vs. Jan Zaveck, March 9, 2013, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

Perhaps Thurman got a little Yankee in him when he was in the Big Apple, because when he took on the veteran Slovenian Zaveck at Barclays Center, Thurman pitched a shutout, earning 120-108 scores on all three judges’ cards.

It was his first time in New York, and it was too early in the spring for the weather to have come out of the freezer of February. Especially chilly for a native Floridian. But that’s OK. You work up a sweat going the distance.

“It was the first time I went 12 rounds in my career. It was the first time not only did I go 12 rounds, but out of anybody who has taken me the distance, he was the only man I didn’t put on the mat at least one time,” Thurman said. “He had a very tight defense.

"The golden rule of boxing is protect yourself at all times. If you do protect yourself, you’ll have a long career in the sport of boxing. Zaveck, being the veteran he was, was able to do that. I know I hurt him with a body shot because I heard him grunt. But I didn’t stay there, which I probably should have. I really looked for him to open up his guard. I was looking for him to slip up. I caught him with several counters in the opening round. I think he respected my power early and really just tightened up his defense, doing his best to not get knocked out that night, and he was successful in doing so.”

2 vs. Diego Chaves, July 27, 2013, at AT&T Center in San Antonio

The early going was rough for Thurman. Even though he was comfortably ahead in the scoring, Chaves busted Thurman’s nose in the third round. Seven rounds later, Thurman would more than exact his revenge when he put Chaves on the mat for good.

“I wasn’t able to get the early knockout, but I was able to get a later knockout and drop him with a beautiful body shot, which I knew was coming a round before it happened,” Thurman said. “It happened in the ninth. We jumped on him when we knew he was hurt, and finished him off in the 10th. Besides that, due to the fans in San Antonio where the Chaves fight was held, a lot of people also remember the Soto Karass fight.” 

1 vs. Jesus Soto Karass, December 14, 2013, at the Alamodome in San Antonio

Thurman returned to San Antonio later that year to take on Soto Karass, who tagged Thurman in the first round with a looping, overhand right. But Thurman recovered and dished out major punishment over the next eight rounds before Soto Karass succumbed to what ended up being a TKO.

“I was hitting him with almost everything all night,” Thurman said. “I was catching him here, catching him there. I was catching him with uppercuts, was catching him with hooks, the right hand. He kept walking through it, walking through it. I did drop him in the fifth round with a nice half-hook, half-left uppercut right on the chin. That put him to the mat but he rose up and once again marched forward like a true soldier.’

“I opened up [in the ninth] and he walked into a beautiful left-hook, right-hand little combination. I pivoted on the outside, got him with another right hand, then dropped him with a one-two left uppercut. When I rocked him, the way he stood up on his feet, I could see that he was damaged but he was still on his feet. The ref didn’t jump in right away, so I kept throwing punches. When I landed the final punch, the referee actually caught Soto Karass. You don’t really see that much in the sport of boxing. When a knockdown happens, it normally just happens. I think the referee saw enough punishment where he was about to stop the fight even with Karass on his feet.”

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