At the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, Keith Thurman made a long overdue return to action, and ‘One Time’ banked twelve rounds in a unanimous decision win against Mario Barrios at the top of a Premier Boxing Champions bill. The bout served as a WBC welterweight title eliminator.
Thurman was coming off a lengthy layoff, with his last contest coming way back in July 2019 where he lost his WBA world title, and unbeaten record, in a split decision loss to the legendary Manny Pacquiao. Thurman had been blighted by a hand injury, that had to undergo an operation in the aftermath. Barrios was a tricky comeback opponent, with the Texan a former WBA champion at super lightweight before he too lost his belt and unbeaten record in his last fight, an eleventh round stoppage defeat at the hands of Gervonta Davis in June last year.
Thurman banked a solid first round here, applying pressure to Barrios and using his range to good effect. Barrios did snap Thurman’s head back with a jab to start the second, but Thurman responded in kind with a hard left hook. It was a big left that wobbled Barrios in round three, and the exact same shot stiffened Barrios’ legs a round later, as Thurman showed no signs of ring rust. The sharp, accurate punching continued as Thurman continued to bank the rounds, although he did seemed troubled by an eighth round body shot that forced his mouth piece to come out. Thurman was clearly levels above his opponent, and although his team told him the fight was close going into the last round, it was anything but, and Thurman again staggered Barrios in the final frame with a stiff right hand as the fight came to its conclusion.
— DL (@DonDizzz) February 6, 2022
Two scores of 118-110 and a third at 117-111 gave the favourite a deserved and dominant win, and he targeted world titles post-fight.
— Keith Thurman Jr. (@keithfthurmanjr) February 6, 2022
Mario Barrios lost his WBC super bantamweight title and his unbeaten record last time out in a knockout loss against Brandon Figueroa, and the Mexican got back to immediate winning ways in a Mexican derby against the undefeated Carlos Castro, taking a deserved split decision win. A massive straight left hand inside the first minute dropped Castro, and Nery dished out further punishment as the round came to a close. Castro dug in though, and edged his way back into contention, and the contest was in the balance going to the scorecards. Both men received 95-94 verdicts, but crucially, the third judge scored 96-93 in Nery’s favour.
Leo Santa Cruz returned to action following a devastating October 2020 knockout defeat to Gervonta Davis, and the Mexican based in California coasted to a win over ten rounds against Keenan Carbajal at super featherweight. Santa Cruz is still classed as the main WBA title holder at featherweight, where Leigh Wood and Michael Conlan will contest the regular title next month, and he pitched a shutout here, taking three 100-90 verdicts.
I always dreamed when I was small I would fight in Vegas where all the great champions fought. It’s still unbelievable, I’m excited and just want to give a great show! #TeamSantaCruz #SantaCruzCarbajal
— Leo Santa Cruz (@leosantacruz2) February 5, 2022
20-year-old super welterweight prospect Jesus Alejandro Ramos remained unbeaten, notching a sixth round stoppage win against Vladimir Hernandez.
Welterweight contender Abel Ramos suffered an upset defeat over ten rounds, as Lucas Santamaria took a decision win by two scores of 96-94, and a third at 98-92. Omar Juarez edged out Ryan Karl at super lightweight via split decision after ten rounds. A score each at 95-94 left the fight in the balance, but a third tally of 96-93 for Juarez gave him the victory.
Also at super lightweight, Keith Hunter halted Jesus Silveyra Carrillo inside a round, and Enriko Gogokhia and Kent Cruz couldn’t be separated in an eight round draw. Middleweight hope Fernando Vargas moved to 5-0 with a third round stoppage win over Kody Kaboski.