USA TODAY Sports
Keith Thurman was impressive again tonight on HBO, dominating a game and very tough Jan Zaveck over 12 rounds to become the top contender to the WBO welterweight title.
Keith Thurman didn't score one of his signature knockouts tonight, but he delivered a lot of punishment over 12 rounds, beating Jan Zaveck in a WBO welterweight eliminator, ostensibly earning a shot at Timothy Bradley, who defends next week against Ruslan Provodnikov. The judges had it 120-108 across the board for Thurman. BLH scored it 119-109.
For Thurman (20-0, 18 KO), this was the first time he'd ever gone past eight rounds, and he told HBO's Max Kellerman that he appreciated going the distance, and learning in the ring.
"Zaveck's never met the canvas. I was looking to land that one punch, but he has a tight defense, he keeps his chin tucked," Thurman said after the fight. "I'm glad I got to experience the 12 rounds. I learned that some people are tough. You've got to out-box them, you're not always going to get the knockout."
Zaveck (32-3, 18 KO) took some hellacious shots to the head and especially the body, but stayed on his feet the entire fight. His stubbornness was enough for Thurman's trainer to remark before round 12, "Fucker got a hard head." Indeed, Mr. Birmingham. Fucker got a very hard head.
Thurman probably won't be fighting Bradley, since that's a Golden Boy/Haymon-Top Rank no-go, but he's putting himself into contention for real. He looks like more than a hype job, and this was his best overall performance to date.