“Send Keith Thurman The Contract, Let’s Go!” | Thurman Dominates Barrios And Looks To Become A Champion Again

Image Credit: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions

Former unified welterweight world champion Keith “One Time” Thurman is back.

Thurman proved he is still an elite welterweight, winning a 12-round unanimous decision over former super lightweight world champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios last night.

The two fought in the main event of a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View event Saturday night from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Thurman is Back

“This was a comeback fight after two and a half years away,” said Thurman post-fight. “I wish I had my best performance, but I did the best I could under the circumstances. “I grade this performance a C+ or B- for myself.”

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In his first fight in over 30 months, the 33-year-old Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) displayed the attributes that led him to the top of the 147-pound division. Thurman got off to a strong start and never relinquished control, at times punishing Barrios with hard shots.

Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) had his moments in his welterweight debut, particularly in the eighth when a left hook to the body caused Thurman to back up.

Barrios Is Still Bad

Despite Thurman’s heavy artillery, the 26-year-old slugger from San Antonio, Texas, also showed grit, gamely fighting back.

“Tonight I showed the Mexican warrior in me. I take my hat off to Keith Thurman, he’s a warrior as well. We gave the fans a great fight,” said Barrios.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough to overcome an excellent performance from the relentless Thurman.

Ready To Be Champion Again

“We rocked him. We weren’t able to put him down and out, but we had a great performance and a great fight,” said Thurman.

“I want the belts. I want the champions. I want to be back on top, so whoever is willing to send Keith Thurman the contract, let’s go!”

Thurman returns to a welterweight division where the major players have either gone down or up since his departure. Thurman’s last fight was against Manny Pacquiao, who has since retired and is running for the presidency of the Philippines.

New Welterweight Day

After Terence Crawford defeated Shawn Porter, sending him into retirement, the new order of champions are Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, and Yordenis Ugas.

Thurman wants them all, and as the old Thurman, he is back to climb a much smaller but formidable mountain to welterweight supremacy.

In the super featherweight co-main event, four-division world champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz delivered another vintage performance. He overcame adversity to win a wide 10-round unanimous decision over Keenan “Bedo” Carbajal.

Santa Cruz Is Back

After his last performance, where he was knocked out by Gervonta “Tank” Davis a little over a year ago, Santa Cruz got back in the winning column.

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“I went good rounds. If I had gone in there and finished him fast, I wouldn’t have gotten the experience I needed,” said the 33-year-old Santa Cruz. “I felt the long layoff a little bit, but I did my best, and hopefully the fans loved it and want to see me again.”

Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KOs) suffered a cut underneath his left eye and one along his right eyelid, both from accidental headbutts.

Boxing’s Prodigal Sons Return

Undaunted, “El Terremoto” dominated the action, hurting Carbajal (23-3-1, 15 KOs) several times on his way to winning every round on all three scorecards (100-90).

“We’re going to go back to the gym, get better and work on what we did wrong,” Santa Cruz said. “We want to unify and defend our title. We want all the champions at 126 pounds.”

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.