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Keith Thurman tempers expectations for return bout after 2 years away from ring

The unbeaten welterweight will defend his WBA championship against Josesito Lopez on Saturday at Barclays Center.

Keith Thurman has not fought in nearly two

Keith Thurman has not fought in nearly two years as he battled injuries. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Ed Mulholland

After a nearly two-year absence, Keith Thurman is ready to make his in-ring return.

Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) will face Josesito Lopez at Barclays Center on Saturday night. Thurman, 30, is widely favored over the 34-year-old Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs). But some ring rust is expected.

“I don’t expect this to be the best performance you’ve ever seen of Keith Thurman,” Thurman told amNewYork on Tuesday. “But I expect you to see Keith 'One Time' Thurman, a world-class fighter, and a world-class performance nonetheless.”

Thurman last fought in March 2017, defeating Danny Garcia via split decision in Brooklyn. Since then, he has recovered from right elbow surgery and a left hand injury which further delayed his return. These setbacks eventually compelled him to relinquish his WBC welterweight title, although he will defend the WBA crown against Lopez.

Despite other 147-pound fighters stepping into the spotlight, Thurman insisted he wasn’t envious of other fighters, such as Shawn Porter, who now holds the WBC belt.

“My sadness or my depression came from not being able to do what I love to do in this life, which is to be an active fighter,” he said.

Expecting a sluggish return, Thurman added two extra weeks of training camp to allow himself more time to prepare.

“It was a slow start,” he said. "I noticed that in camp. Overweight, it’d been so long since I’ve been moving around as a real active fighter. But week by week by week, we just felt better and better and better.”

With a win, Thurman would have no shortage of options: rematches with Porter and Garcia, a clash with undefeated IBF champion Errol Spence Jr., or a bout against all-time great Manny Pacquiao if an eye injury suffered last weekend doesn't threaten to end his career.

Thurman is confident he can face a top welterweight later this year, but he is more focused on his own progression.

“This year is very important to me to just be healthy and get back into the sport of boxing and remind people who Keith Thurman is,” he said.

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