After two-and-a-half years away from the ring, Keith Thurman makes a long-awaited comeback at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas this Saturday night, with Mario Barrios moving up from super lightweight to take ‘One Time’ on over twelve at 147 pounds.
Thurman vs Barrios will be televised on FOX Sports pay-per-view in the USA and on FITE TV pay-per-view in the UK.
Thurman (29-1, KO22) was highly touted at welterweight, and was set for big things after spells as WBA ‘super’ and WBC champion, with wins over the likes of Shawn Porter (UD12) Danny Garcia (SD12).
His unbeaten record went up in smoke though in July 2019, when Manny Pacquiao repelled Father Time and took a split decision win over the Florida man.
Since that reverse, Thurman has been on the sidelines, as he was between defeating Danny Garcia in 2017, and then returning to take a majority decision win against Josesito Lopez in 2019, after surgery on his elbow.
The 33-year-old hurt his hand against Lopez, and took on Pacquiao carrying that injury. He returns against Barrios (26-1, KO17) now injury-free with his left hand fully healed.
Barrios, 26, is a former WBA champion at ten stone, but lost his belt and his unbeaten record in his last fight in June last year, when Gervonta Davis dropped him three times on the way to an eleventh round stoppage.
The Texan acquitted himself well though, and facing Thurman will hold no fears for him.
Prediction: Thurman may take time to find his groove after so long away from the ring, so Barrios will try to exploit this early on. Once Thurman gets into a rhythm, he can use his size and strength to grind his opponent down in the championship rounds.
Santa Cruz returns
Leo Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KOs) is another man coming off a loss to Gervonta Davis, a one-punch sixth round knockout defeat in October 2020, and he drops back down to featherweight to take on Keenan Carbajal (23-2-1, 15 KOs) over ten rounds.
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Prediction: Carbajal is on a run of 18 straight wins at a very low level, and Santa Cruz should have more than enough in his arsenal to take an early win here.
Nery clashes with Castro
Luis Nery starts a rebuild after losing his world super bantamweight title last time out to Brandon Figueroa, and the Mexican is in with the unbeaten Carlos Castro.
Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) was knocked out by Figueroa from a body shot, and he now returns against Castro (27-0, 12 KOs), a man who hasn’t tasted defeat, but has operated at a much lower level than his opponent.
Castro was last seen in August last year, knocking out Oscar Escandon in the last of a ten rounder.
Prediction: Nery can return to winning ways inside schedule in this one.
Ramos faces Santamaria
At welterweight, Abel Ramos, fresh off a stunning win over Omar Figueroa Jr, takes on Lucas Santamaria.
Santamaria (12-2-1, 7 KOs) took a ten round win over a faded Devon Alexander in his last fight, but Ramos (27-4-2, 21 KOs) is a step up in class, with the 30-year-old also taking Yordenis Ugas to a close split decision in September 2020, in a failed bid for the WBA title.
Prediction: Ramos can stop his man around the halfway mark.
At super lightweight, California-based Georgian, Enriko Gogokhia (13-0, 8 KOs) may need the cards after eight rounds to defeat fellow unbeaten Kent Cruz (16-0-1, 10 KOs), while at middleweight, Fernando Vargas (4-0, 4 KOs) can see off Kody Koboski (2-0, 2 KOs) before the end of their four rounder.