NEW YORK -- The question that begged for an answer going into welterweight Keith Thurman's fight against former titlist Jan Zaveck was, is Thurman for real?
He just might be after issuing a beating to Zaveck in a unanimous decision victory on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the co-feature of the card headlined by Tavoris Cloud's light heavyweight title defense against former champion Bernard Hopkins.
Thurman won going away, winning a 120-108 shutout on all three judges' scorecards. ESPN.com also had it a shutout for Thurman.
The charismatic, power-punching Thurman rolled past the 36-year-old well-conditioned Zaveck -- the only fighter from Slovenia to win a world title -- with ease. Zaveck was two fights removed from losing his belt by fifth-round stoppage (because of a badly swollen eye) to Andre Berto in September 2011. He missed time because of an elbow injury but came back to win his previous bout last March.
But he did very little against Thurman (20-0, 18 KOs) except show heart and a good chin. When Thurman heard before the fight that Zaveck (32-3, 18 KOs) had never been knocked down in his career, he said he loved hearing that, because it motivated him to become the first to do it.
Thurman, 24, of Clearwater, Fla., did not accomplish that, but he did everything else anyone could have asked him to do in a thoroughly dominant performance against the best opponent of his career.
"He had a tight defense, kept his chin tucked," Thurman said. "He's truly a veteran. It was a good boxing lesson. I'm glad I got the experience. You got to outbox guys sometimes, outsmart them."
After having never go beyond eight round, Thurman also went the distance in his first scheduled 12-round bout.
"I was prepared for 12 rounds," Thurman said. "I was looking for the [knockout] shot but it wasn't there. He kept me guessing. He's truly a veteran of the sport. The man's never hit the canvas and I wanted to do that. I'm glad I got the 12 rounds in and I'm happy with my performance."
Said Dan Birmingham, Thurman's trainer, "It was a showcase fight. He showcased he could go 12 rounds and win every round. If you can't knock them out, you have to beat the hell out of them for 12 rounds and that's what he did."
Thurman came out fast and had Zaveck's face swelling by the end of the first round. He continued to pound the slower Zaveck to the head and body throughout a fight in which one round resembled the next: Thurman on the attack and Zaveck taking big shots with very little to offer in return.
Although Thurman hurt Zaveck many times in the fight, he never could knock him down and settled for the one-sided decision.
"I had more experience but it didn't show. He was much better than me," Zaveck said. "I went the distance but I couldn't do it. I gave it my all. I was too slow. I give him my congratulations. He's going to have a great future."
Browne wins by KO in hometown debut
Staten Island, N.Y., light heavyweight Marcus Browne (3-0, 3 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, blasted Josh Thorpe (1-3) of Mobile, Ala., in a first-round knockout victory. Browne, excited to be fighting in his home city for the first time as a pro after having his two previous pro bouts in California, broke out into a dance in the ring after referee Pete Santiago called off the fight at 2 minutes, 42 seconds.
"I'm really happy my friends and family are here and showed me a lot of love," Browne, 22, said. "I didn't hear them cheer for anybody like they cheered for me. It wasn't a distraction fighting at home, it was an incentive to look sharp and take care of business."
That's just what he did. Browne, a southpaw, dominated, dropping Thorpe with a right to the head and right to the body. He continued to drive hard shots into him and had Thorpe cowering against the ropes and eating shots when Santiago stepped in.
Browne's next fight likely will be back at the Barclays Center on April 27 on the undercard of Danny Garcia's junior welterweight title defense against Zab Judah.
" Lightweights Mike Perez (18-1-2, 10 KOs) and Lonnie Smith (14-4-3, 10 KOs) battled to a bloody seventh-round majority technical draw in an action fight.
Perez, of Newark, N.J., dropped Smith with a left hand in the first round and had him staggered with another shot after that, but Smith battled back and they took turns rocking each other. Smith opened a cut on Perez's forehead with an accidental head butt in the fifth round and Perez bloodied Smith's nose in the sixth round.
But with Perez's cut getting worse in the seventh round, the bout was stopped on advice of the ringside doctor and sent to the scorecards. One judge had Smith ahead 67-65, but the other two judges had it 66-66.
" Bronx, N.Y., junior middleweight Eddie Gomez (13-0, 9 KOs), just 20, blew out Javier Gomez (14-11, 10 KOs) of Mexico in just 77 seconds. Eddie Gomez hurt him with the first left hand of the fight and Javier Gomez staggered into the ropes. Gomez connected with another left hook and he went down. Javier Gomez beat the count, but he was in no condition to continue and referee Arthur Mercante Jr. called off the fight.
" Brooklyn junior middleweight Frank Galarza (9-0-1, 5 KOs), with a raucous group of fans cheering him wildly, knocked out Guillermo Ibarra (7-2, 4 KOs) of Mexico in the second round. In a crowd-pleasing fight, Galarza dropped Ibarra with a flurry of shots in the second round and was all over him when the fight resumed. Then he dropped him again with a right to the body, prompting referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to call off the bout at 2 minutes, 19 seconds.
" Brooklyn bantamweight Claude Statten Jr. (1-0) made a successful pro debut. He scored a third-round knockdown on a left hook and cruised to a shutout decision -- 40-35 on all three scorecards -- against Mike Hill (0-2) of New Orleans.
" Cruiserweight Steve Bujaj (9-0, 6 KOs), a former two-time New York Golden Gloves champion, won a shutout four-round decision against Zeferino Albino (4-16-3, 2 KOs) of Philadelphia in the first fight of the night. Although Bujaj won each round on all three scorecards, it was not easy. Albino pressed the action and landed a some solid shots in the final two rounds.