Keith Thurman came into his bout with Jan Zaveck on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins vs. Tavoris Cloud after being one of the consensus top prospects in the sport of boxing in 2012. Zaveck, a rugged fighter known for his try-hard style, appeared to understand that Thurman's punching power was going to be a considerable obstacle to overcome in their twelve round WBO eliminator.
What Zaveck may not have been expecting was Thurman's willingness to dig to the body in the early rounds, in turn opening opportunities to the head. And that attack was enough to win almost every round convincingly for Thurman.
When the fight ended HBO scored it 118-110 for Thurman while the official scorecards read 120-108 across the board.
Through three rounds, Thurman had appeared to bother Zaveck with his power on a number of occasions, marking up the face of his Slovenian foe in the process. As the punishment accumulated, Zaveck never appeared unwilling to try to find his way into the fight, but ultimately was unable against a stronger, faster and simply better fighter.
While Zaveck isn't without his flaws, he is a tough out for anyone, especially a fighter still in the early stages of his career. Thurman made an impressive statement against a tough veteran former world title challenger.
He answered questions about his stamina, not fading too noticeably as the fight went on and did eat the occasional punch from an opponent who didn't crumble when touched with a heavy shot.
Thurman should be in a title fight by the end of the year. A prospect no more, it's only going to get tougher from here on out.