LAS VEGAS – One phrase you constantly hear in boxing is: “That fight was much more entertaining than the scorecards will show.”
Never has that sentiment been truer than in the Premier Boxing Champions' main event on Saturday between undefeated welterweight powerhouse Keith Thurman and Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero.
Thanks to tremendous poise and flashes of his signature power, Thurman defeated Guerrero by unanimous decision (120-107, 118-109, 118-108) to retain his WBA welterweight title in a back-and-forth affair.
Guerrero, a former four-time champion, won the “Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes” in 2013 in a unanimous decision loss to the pound-for-pound king. And heading into his fight with Thurman, "The Ghost” was looking to make a statement and unseat the surging welterweight prospect.
Thurman knocked down Guerrero in the ninth round after flooring him with a thudding right hook, set up by a grazing uppercut.
“The Ghost” used his allotted time and rose to his feet on referee Kenny Bayless’ nine-count. It was the benchmark moment of the fight for Thurman and it was the most authoritative moment from either fighter.
They spent the next three rounds engaged in various clinch scraps and combination flurries as the crowd inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena was worked to a fever pitch. Chants of “Guer-rer-ro!” rang throughout the arena as the California native walked forward, winging punches, doing his best to mount a comeback. Despite the wide-ranging scorecards, Guerrero pressured Thurman at various points and seemed to have the champion out of sync at different points. When he was hurt, he bit down on his mouth-piece and walked forward. Thurman was relentless with his straight right hand, however, and he leveled Guerrero on more than one occasion with it.
“Robert Guerrero fought like a tremendous warrior,” Thurman said. “He’s known as The Ghost, he’s a veteran four-time champion and he fought like that tonight.”
Thurman landed 211 total punches while throwing 598, according to CompuBox. Guerrero threw 497 while landing 104. Thurman’s power, athleticism and combination punching was too much to overcome in the end (Thurman landed a staggering 172 power punches as opposed to the 74 of his opponent).
“He’s a tough fighter,” Guerrero said after the fight. “I know why they call him ‘One Time’ because he has tremendous power. Those are the type of fights that win the hearts of the fans. Fans love it and that’s what boxing’s all about.”
Guerrero isn’t kidding.
PBC marked boxing’s return to prime-time television for the first time in 30 years. The NBC broadcast team featured Al Michaels, Marv Albert and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. Earlier in the night, Adrien Broner defeated John Molina Jr. by unanimous decision.
As of Saturday night, there was no definitive word on the viewership numbers, but with such an action-packed main event, it’s easy to think that more than a few fight fans tuned into the evening's showcase.