Keith Thurman Earns First Major Title Shot and Much Needed Experience In Unanimous Decision Over Dejan Zaveck
In the sole under-card bout of HBO’s World Championship Boxing, 2012 “Prospect of the Year” Keith Thurman (20-0, 18 knockouts) took on Dejan Zaveck (32-3, 18 knockouts) in a bout which served as both a WBO Welterweight Title Eliminator, along with having the WBO Inter-continental title on the line. Going into the bout, many questioned just what kind of test Zaveck would provide for the surging Keith Thurman. Thankfully, fans got the answer they needed over 12-hard fought rounds.
In the opening rounds of the bout, Thurman came out looking as confident as ever in his varying attack to both the body and head of the plodding Zaveck. Although Thurman was the much busier fighter, Zaveck’s gameplan revolved around a superior use of head movement and effective counter-punching. Unfortunately, Zaveck’s gameplan seemed relatively useless as Thurman’s confidence only grew with each digging body and beautiful combination thrown against the veteran. As powerful as Thurman looked early, Zaveck seemed unfazed and would remain in front of Thurman at all times. It’s this kind of constant pressure from Zaveck that made the fight much more competitive as the middle rounds approached.
By the middle rounds two things became obvious: 1) Zaveck wasn’t going anywhere and 2) Thurman is slowing down. Zaveck would capitalize on this gradual slowing of pace by landing a well-timed, short pair of hooks that would catch Thurman both early and often in the 6th round. This attack, along with gradually increasing pressure, and a varied attack began to give Thurman fits though most of these rounds. Just as questions arose concerning just how much Thurman had left in the tank, Thurman seemed to catch a second wind by the 9th. This was especially evident in how Thurman was able to hurt Zaveck throughout the later rounds with a ferocious left uppercut that would stagger Zaveck. As Thurman’s confidence and power roared back, Zaveck remained upright until the final bell, signaling that this would be only the second time in Thurman’s career that the judges would have to render their decision. In the end, Thurman won a unanimous decision on scores of (120-108), (120-108), (120-108).
With this win, Thurman earned a shot at the WBO Welterweight title (which is currently held by Bradley) as well as an inter-continental version of the WBO welterweight strap. Some questions still remain as far as just how Keith Thurman’s career may play out as his quality of opposition continues to gradually increase, but this win against Zaveck is the right step in finally answering some of these nagging questions.