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Boxing | International

Keith Thurman © Getty Images

Thurman itching for ring return against Lopez

Unbeaten Keith Thurman returns to the ring after a 22-month absence on Saturday aiming to defend his World Boxing Association welterweight world title against fellow American Josesito Lopez.

It's been a tough time for "One Time" Thurman, who last fought in March of 2017 when he edged Danny Garcia by split decision to unify 147-pound titles.

In April of that year, he had surgery to remove calcium deposits from his right elbow. In March of 2018, a left hand injury forced him to take more time off.

"The real morbid thinking and the real frustration didn't hit until the second injury, when I hurt my hand and postponed me even further," said Thurman. "I didn't like the inactivity. I didn't like being stagnant."

He also didn't like being stripped of his World Boxing Council welterweight world title because he couldn't make a mandatory defense against Shawn Porter.

He still owns the WBA's "super" world welterweight title – one rung above the "regular" belt held by Manny Pacquiao.

Thurman, who weighed in on Friday for the bout at the Barclays Centre at 146.6 pounds, says it's "felt like a lifetime" since he fought but "Saturday night, the champ is back".

"There's always a little level of nerves for a fight, but it's mostly anticipation," added Thurman, who boasts a record of 28-0 with 22 knockouts. "The nerves are very natural, but they are not overpowering. I like to carry some nerves with me for each fight."

California's Lopez brings a record of 36-7 with 19 knockouts to the bout. He's won three in a row since losing to Andre Berto in 2015.

"Josesito has a lot of confidence. He has been training hard and I know that's where his confidence comes from because that's where I get it from," Thurman said, noting that Lopez's move to trainer Robert Garcia has given him new momentum.

"He wants to showcase his skills and talent. I want to remind the world who Keith Thurman is."


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