BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In what trainer, Dan Birmingham called “a showcase performance” before 12,293 at Barclays Center on Saturday night, unbeaten welterweight prospect Keith “One Time” Thurman produced 12 hard-hitting rounds during his shutout unanimous decision victory over Slovenian ex-beltholder Jan Zaveck.
In a well-rounded effort, Thurman (20-0, 18 knockouts) out-landed Zaveck, 217-to-110 in total punches, including 150-77 in power punches and 67-33 in jabs, en route to winning unanimous scores of 120-108 on the cards of judges Waleska Roldan, Don Trella and Nelson Vazquez.
Although Thurman, of Clearwater, Fla, failed to earn his ninth straight stoppage victory against the rugged Zaveck (32-3, 18 KOs), the moment was, nevertheless, even more special due to the fact that Birmingham almost didn’t live to see it.
Birmingham nearly died from a severe bout with pneumonia in a St. Petersburg, Fla., hospital four days prior to Thurman’s fourth-round stoppage of former WBO 147-pound beltlholder Carlos Quintana that took place on Nov. 24 — the day after Thurman’s 24th birthday.
“It was in November. I had had the flu for two weeks, and I was in the hospital for a week with pneumonia, and Keith was basically training himself. I was so weak. I said, ‘Man, I gotta go to the hospital.’ I had lost 20 pounds. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t drive myself to the hospital. My wife had to take me,” said Birmingham.
“When I got there, they packed me in ice, put antibiotics in me. I didn’t know how close I was to death, but my doctor told me that if I had waited another eight to 10 hours, I would have been gone if I hadn’t gotten to the hospital. They saved my life. … I got out four days before his last fight.”
“It’s a joy to work with Keith. He’s exciting. He’s a great guy and a great fighter. There is never a dull moment with him. He’s going to be a superstar. He used all of his skills (against Zaveck). He boxed, he moved, he did everything right,” said Birmingham.
“Somebody said he deserved a B-plus, but I gave him an A. The placement of his shots was amazing. You never saw the same thing twice, and his approach was always mixing his attack. He’s a dynamic fighter who is only going to get better every time out.”
Birmingham’s presence was a motivation for Thurman.
“The last fight, we were just truly blessed to have Dan back in the corner because he was out of the camp for a little while. He has recovered really well after that,” said Thurman.
“Dan’s just a great trainer, man, and he gives me great advice in the ring. As soon as we saw that this was going to be a 12-round fight, we just sat back and we decided to out-box Zaveck.”
Photo / Elsa-Golden Boy / Getty Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org