Keith Thuman (30-1, 22 KOs) grinded out a 12 round unanimous decision over Mario Barrios (26-2,17 KOs) in their FOX Sports PPV fight on Saturday night at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
The scores: 117-111, 118-110, 118-110.
Neither fighter was knocked down in the contest. Thurman hasn’t knocked anyone out in nine years since his stoppage victory over journeyman Jesus Soto Karass in 2013, so it was never a real possibility he would score a knockout over Barrios.
Thurman, 33, fought well, hitting the slow, plodding Barrios at will with crisp shots, distorting his face.
By the end of the fight, Barrios’ prominent nose had swollen up so badly that he was almost unrecognizable. Thurman did some damage with his shots
Thurman said after the fight that he’d injured one of his knuckles on his left hand, and that got in the way of his ability to throw power shots.
The fight card had an expensive $74.95 price tag on it for PPV, which likely scared away many boxing fans that would have watched Thurman fight if it were on regular non-PPV cable.
“I had some ring rust in there but it was a good opponent,” said Thurman after the fight. “He learned from his last outing, and I learned from my last outing.
“I’m just happy to be back in the ring. I’m just happy for all those people that got me in this position where I am now, and I’m just looking forward to having a better year. 2022, baby,” said Thurman.
“I grade this one a C+, B- for myself, but I knew I was very sharp from the sparring. He was very poised. I showed some movement and he was making some fundamental mistakes.
“He was crossing his feet over, and I thought, ‘Okay, I can treat this boy like some of my sparring partners and school him a little bit. Get back on that jab and land the power shots like I did all night.’
“It was a left uppercut, it bruised one of the knuckles. It made me not want to throw that punch anymore, but I was getting him with the right. I caught him with the right, and I rocked him a few times.
“I just got to get back in the gym, and keep grinding and push that high intensity and high endurance. That’s what I’m missing right now. I got the stamina, I got the timing. I just got to go a little harder, and we’re prepared to do that later on this year.
“I said, who cares about the knockout. I’m going to box hard, box smart. We rocked him, but we weren’t able to put him down and out. But we had a great performance, a great fight. He was a tremendous athlete in the ring, he was very poised.
“He has a great future ahead of him. Congratulations, Mario Barrios. You couldn’t get ‘One Time,’ but you’re a great fighter. I want the belts, baby. I want the champions. I want to be back on top.
“So whoever is willing to send Keith Thurman the contract, let’s go, baby. Let’s go,” said Thurman when asked who does he want to fight next.
Leo Santa Cruz defeats Keenan Carbajal
In the chief support bout, WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KOs) beat Keenan Carbajal (23-3-1,15 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision in a non-title fight for the 32-year-old.
The judges had it: 100-90, 100-90, and 100-90. This was a gimme tune-up fight for the former four-division world champion Santa Cruz, as he hadn’t fought since getting stopped in the sixth round by Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis in October 2020.
undefeated 154lb prospect Jesus Ramos (18-0, 15 JOs)0 beat Vladimir Hernandez (13-5, 6 KOs). by a sixth round knockout. Ramos unloaded on Hernandez in the sixth round to age a stoppage at 2:21 of the round.
Fresh off a knockout loss, the former two-division will champion Luis “Pantera” Nery (32-1, 24 KOs) put in a workmanlike performance in winning a 10round split decision over Carlos Castro (27-1, 12 KOs).
The scores were: 96-93 95-94 for Nery and 95-94 for Castro.
Luke Santamaria (12-2-1, 7 KOs) defeated Abel Ramos (27-5-2, 21 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision. The scores were 96-94, 96-94, 98-92.