Welterweight Champion Keith Thurman Makes Ring Return to Defend His Title Against Josesito Lopez Live in Primetime on Premier Boxing Champions
Undefeated WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman returns to the ring after a lengthy injury layoff to defend his title against veteran Josesito Lopez on Saturday, January 26 live in primetime in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.
Televised coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will see a co-feature featuring fast-rising unbeaten Polish heavyweight contender Adam Kownacki as he clashes with former title challenger Gerald Washington in a 10-round battle and unbeaten featherweight contender Tugstgogt Nyambayar battles Claudio Marrero to open the telecast.
Tickets for the show begin at $50 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com, or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
“There is a high level of anticipation and intrigue surrounding the ring return of welterweight champion Keith Thurman, and Josesito Lopez will certainly provide some answers about where Thurman is after nearly two years out of the ring,’’ said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Adam Kownacki and Gerald Washington have the opportunity to show exactly where they stand in the resurgent heavyweight division. Both of them are big heavyweights who love to throw power shots. Nyambayar and Marrero are guaranteed to add fireworks to an already thrilling show. It’s the kind of night that will have fans on the edge of their seats.’’
“I speak for boxing fans everywhere when I say we are eagerly anticipating Keith Thurman’s return to the ring,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global. “He has experienced great success at Barclays Center, so it’s fitting that he will lead off a strong year of BROOKLYN BOXING programming in 2019. I also look forward to seeing local favorite Adam Kownacki, who always comes with a strong contingent of loud fans.”
Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) made a steady rise through the welterweight ranks and reached the pinnacle with hard-fought victories over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia at Barclays Center, the latter of which earned him a WBC crown in addition to his WBA title. But a string of injuries has sidelined him for nearly two years, calling into question his place amongst the 147-pound elites. The 30-year-old Thurman, who is still the reigning WBA welterweight champion, is looking to regain his top-tier status in the division starting with Lopez. Thurman, who lives and trains in Clearwater, Florida, enters the ring for the first time since a split decision victory Garcia on March 4, 2017.
“I’m extremely excited to step back into the ring,’’ said Thurman. “It’s a little nerve-wracking considering the time off and because I want to have a tremendous performance. I want to speak more with my hands more than my words and quiet the naysayers who think that Keith Thurman has lost his passion and skills in boxing. I believe I’m the best welterweight in the division and in the world and I hope to showcase that on January 26 with a knockout. The best fights in the welterweight division have involved Keith Thurman and that will continue to be the case. I’m looking forward to having a tremendous year and showing why I’m number one.”
The 34-year-old Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) is looking to thwart Thurman’s plans to regain his lofty position in the 147-pound division. Nicknamed “The Riverside Rocky’’ because of his all-action style, the Riverside, California-native has stepped into the ring against some of the best boxers of this generation. He has rattled off three straight victories since suffering a TKO loss to former welterweight champion Andre Berto in 2015. Lopez is coming off a unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten Miguel Cruz on April 28 live on FOX.
“I’m approaching this fight leaving no stone unturned as I prepare to take that world championship,’’ Lopez said. “I’ve set up training camp with altitude, chasing chickens, chopping wood – really into putting in the work. Overall the layoff will affect him and there could be a little hesitation, but we’ll see come fight night. The improvements that I’ve made with Robert Garcia the last couple of years will come into play. They’ve strengthened my qualities and I can’t wait to show it to the world.”
Kownacki (18-0, 14 KOs) has risen through the heavyweight ranks with a tough-as-nails brawling style that produced a string of knockout victories and exciting showdowns. His knockout streak ended at four in his last fight when he scored a unanimous decision victory over former heavyweight champion Charles Martin on Sepember. 8. Kownacki, who was born in Lomza, Poland and now lives in Brooklyn, will be fighting at Barclays Center for a third straight time and the eighth time overall.
“Living in Brooklyn this is like a home game for me,” said Kownacki.” I’ve had some of my best performances at Barclays Center and I can’t wait to step into the ring against Gerald Washington and showcase myself on PBC on FOX. There is nothing better to start off the year than with a knockout and that’s what I plan on doing on January 26 at Barclays Center. I hope all my fans will come out like they always do and have the arena in white and red.’’
Washington (19-2-1, 12 KOs) is a 6-foot-6 heavyweight who has been able to use his athletic ability to power his way past most of the opponents he faces. That athleticism will pose a challenge to Kownacki, who could be facing the toughest fight of his career. The 36-year-old Washington of Vallejo, California is a former college football standout at the University of Southern California and a U.S. Navy veteran who has challenged Deontay Wilder for his championship. He is coming off a unanimous decision victory over John Wesley Nofire in his last fight on June 10.
“I can’t wait to show everything I’ve been working on,’’ said Washington, “Boxing is a sport of truth. It brings the truth to light and it exposed my truth and what I needed to work on. You have to be able to adjust and be comfortable in every situation. You have to be ready for what’s to come. I’m expecting a hard fight from him. He’s a bruiser. He’s tough and he loves to fight. He’s in his hometown and he’s ready and he’s going to bring it, but I’m ready to position myself to fight again for a world title.’’
Nyambayar (10-0, 9 KOs) has made a rapid ascent through the talent-laden featherweight division with precision and power. The 26-year-old Nyambayar, who is from Ulan-Bator Mongolia and now lives in Carson, California, won a silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics as a member of the Mongolian boxing team. He scored a KO victory over Oscar Escandon in his last fight on May 26.
Marrero (23-2, 17 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is coming off a stunning KO victory over Jorge Lara in his last fight on April 28. Marrero two losses have come against former featherweight champion Jesus Cuellar in 2013 and Jesus Rojas in 2015. A victory over Nyambayar will put Marrero in position to fight for a world title again.