Keith Thurman will return to the boxing ring for the first time in 30 months against former super lightweight world champion Mario Barrios on Feb. 6 in Las Vegas. The bout will headline a Premier Boxing Champions pay-per-view card on FOX at the Michelob Ultra Arena.
In his last bout, Thurman lost his WBA super world welterweight title to Manny Pacquiao via split decision. Thurman survived an early knockdown against Pacquiao and kept the fight close. That fight happened in July 2019 and boxing has changed drastically since then. For one, Pacquiao retired from boxing and the sport is much younger in 2022.
Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) is no longer a welterweight champion after his lone career defeat to Pacquiao. Inactivity has played a role in Thurman’s career throughout the past five years. Since March 2017, Thurman only fought three times.
“He covers all the major points that I like in a fighter. He’s athletic, he’s accurate, he’s agile, he’s fast, he’s smart, he’s got a good defense. It’s why he’s only lost to one guy. Thurman is right up their with the top echelon of Champions.” — @PBConFOX analyst Joe Goossen pic.twitter.com/OlcFGFHOsY
— Keith Thurman Jr. (@keithfthurmanjr) January 26, 2022
For Thurman’s opponent, Barrios, he will be making his welterweight debut on Saturday. Barrios became the WBA super lightweight world champion in September 2019 against Batyr Akhmedov. He made one successful title defense against Ryan Karl in October 2020 before he lost his belt to Gervonta Davis in June 2021.
To this point, Barrios was one of Davis’ toughest tests in boxing. Barrios was ahead on some scorecards before the TKO stoppage happened in round 11. Barrios was in the fight until the end came in the penultimate round.
Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs) was a large super lightweight because of his 5-foot-10-inch frame. The move up in weight is supposed to help Barrios carry his power in the welterweight division. Even for the welterweight division, Barrios is on the taller side of the division.
— FOX Sports: PBC (@PBConFOX) January 21, 2022
Odds Via FanDuel:
Keith Thurman (-186) Money Line
Mario Barrios (+146) Money Line
Final Predictions For The Featured Bout and Co-Featured Bout:
Mario Barrios def. Keith Thurman via 10th-round KO/TKO
Barrios is more active and has a 62.9% knockout rate. Thurman will be facing someone with a two-inch reach advantage and a substantial amount of power. Thurman was hurt by Pacquiao in his last fight and has not looked like an elite welterweight since his win over Danny Garcia in March 2017. Barrios knows how to attack the body and trade shots inside the pocket. He will hurt Thurman as the fight progresses and Barrios’ power will force the stoppage.
Leo Santa Cruz def. Keenan Carbajal via unanimous decision
It has been 15 months since Leo Santa Cruz last competed in the boxing ring. In that fight, he suffered a brutal knockout loss to Gervonta Davis. Santa Cruz will bounce back in this fight against Keenan Carbajal, who is fighting on the biggest stage of his career. Santa Cruz will outbox Carbajal and win by a wide margin via unanimous decision.