Nowadays, boxing is a game of extremes. One loss and a career is on the ropes. Two and the contender might as well look for a new profession.
In the past, a loss could be a learning experience.
Over seventy years ago, future Hall of Famers Archie Moore, Ezzard Charles, and Jersey Joe Walcott, all lost fights, but recovered, to move on to successful careers.
Former world champions Keith Thurman and Mario Barrios are scheduled to throw hands on February 5 at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Both are coming off losses. Both can’t afford to lose again.
Thurman is the former WBA and WBC welterweight champion. Activity has been an issue, as have injuries. The Clearwater native hasn’t mixed it up in the ring since 2019, when Hall of Fame shoo-in Manny Pacquiao, age 40, knocked him down in the opening round winning the bout by split decision.
That initial loss stunned Thurman.
“I was depressed,” Thurman told FightHyppe.com said last year. ”I didn’t enjoy taking my first career L. Even though I lost to a champion,”
Thurman might have shot himself in the foot when his constant trash-talking seemed to annoy, and more importantly, rejuvenate the aging Pacquiao. Time has helped him to put the setback in perspective.
“We know we’ve fallen from the ladder and we’re looking up,” said Thurman. “That’s okay because we’re going to take it one step at a time to get back to where we were.”
Barrios lost his perfect record to WBA junior welterweight champion Gervonta Davis six months ago. Davis was expected to dispose of the unheralded Barrios with ease, but instead found himself trailing on the scorecards halfway through the fight. Barrios was floored twice in round eight, but fought back gamely.
Before round 10, Davis was told by manager Floyd Mayweather that he was likely behind on the scorecards. The heavy-handed slugger upped the ante, pressing Barrios with hard hooks to the jaw. The pressure and power were too much as Barrios finally collapsed in round 11 courtesy of a wicked liver shot.
“I did really well for the majority of the fight,” Barrios told KSAT five months ago. “He caught me with something I didn’t really see.”
Barrios didn’t dwell on his loss for long.
“I always told myself if I ever lose a fight, I’m going out on my shield, and that’s what I did,” Barrios told Badlefthook.com a few weeks ago.
The oddsmakers have installed Thurman a 3-1 favorite. That’s quite an edge and suggests they believe that Thurman’s inactivity, against a fighter of Barrios capability, won’t hurt him.
Barrios, 26, is the younger man by seven years. He’s also taller and has at least a two-inch reach advantage. It could be asked if he’s returning to the ring too soon after a grueling fight against Davis. The answer will be revealed during the bout.
Thurman has more power on paper, but not recently. “One-Time” has scored 22 knockouts in his 29 wins, but has only stopped one opponent in his last five matches.
Hand injuries could explain some of the drop off.
Thurman is rightly favored, due to his caliber of opposition, having defeated former champions Shawn Porter, and Danny Garcia. But that was then.
I see Thurman winning the fight by late stoppage or decision, but don’t count out Barrios. The young man is tough and determined, and carries through with a wicked hook to the body. It’s common knowledge that Thurman is susceptible to body shots.
You can bet that Barrios will go for it.
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