Broner vs Escobedo: Marcos Maidana to Face Keith Thurman in HBO Co-Feature

Marcos Maidana (right) returns to the ring on July 21, facing Keith Thurman on HBO. (Photo by Jeff Curry-US Presswire)

Dan Rafael reports via Twitter that HBO has officially approved a co-feature fight for the July 21 edition of Boxing After Dark in Cincinnati, headlined by Adrien Broner vs Vicente Escobedo. In the co-feature, Marcos Maidana will return to action to face welterweight prospect Keith Thurman.

Rafael and some others are doing the "hold your nose! terrible! augh!" thing, and I'm just not seeing it as that bad of a fight right now. Maybe it turns out to be one. We'll see. But Maidana (31-3, 28 KO) looked pretty terrible in February, sorely outclassed against Devon Alexander to the point that he looked like he gave up on the fight, which is far removed from the idea of Maidana as a never-say-die warrior. He said die that night.

Thurman (17-0, 16 KO) is definitely an untested prospect, and I can see the general distaste for him getting an HBO spot. He's a Haymon fighter, but let me go bullet points style here.

  • Is this really a major power play by Haymon? Thurman, 23, figures to lose, right? That's why the fight is so bad.
  • I had a back-and-forth with Ryan Maquinana on Twitter about the fight, and he's someone whose opinion I respect, and it was a good discussion of the bout, as far as I'm concerned. He says it's win-win, that if Thurman can even look decent, he's a TV option going forward, and that he hasn't earned the spot. I say, what if he gets his block knocked off? And what's "earned" mean in boxing, anyway? It's a serious risk, in my view. There's an argument against that, I admit.
  • Remember last year when some dude named Adrien Broner who'd never fought anyone was signed up to face Daniel Ponce De Leon in his HBO debut?
  • One thing that really does matter: This is not some major league, top of the sport card. Broner vs Escobedo is an OK fight, but this is a bout in Cincinnati. It's a homecoming for Broner. It's fine for that. But who were they going to put in a co-feature in Cincinnati? I'm just glad there is a co-feature.
  • To me, prospect vs veteran looking to bounce back just ain't that bad a fight, ever, and I don't think there's a TV ladder anyone needs to climb. I don't care how many times someone has been on Friday Night Fights. It means nothing. Golden Boy doesn't do FNF often, anyway. How many chances has Thurman even had to be on a show like that? Magomed Abdusalamov will soon be making his second FNF appearance. Ruslan Provodnikov is on all the time, so is Mike Dallas Jr -- so what?
  • Dan Rafael shilled for Klitschko vs Mormeck and Cleverly vs Karpency. Hold your nose indeed.

I'm not saying Thurman's record is legit. It's not. But we'll find out if he can fight or not on July 21. I think there's value in that, and I'm just not that hung up on what TV channel it's on. It's not that I'm giving this fight the big "thumbs up!" or anything. It's that I'm not quick to go, "PeeeYOOOOU!!! Awful! What TV shows has he been on?!?!" when Maidana looked like refried dung in his last fight and, well, we want prospects to take tough fights, right? Here's one.

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