SAN ANTONIO -- Keith Thurman said before facing Jesus Soto Karass in a rough, tough fight on Saturday night at the Alamodome that he wanted to face the winner of the Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana main event. Thurman might just get his wish after he impressively took apart Soto Karass in a ninth-round knockout in the co-feature to retain his interim welterweight title for the first time. Thurman is the mandatory challenger for the winner, and it's a fight that might happen, although there is a plethora of talent for him to face in the division.
"That's the fight the fans want. I'm ready for it if it happens," Thurman said. "There are so many fights out there in the welterweight division. I'm not afraid to lose. I just want to fight the best in the world."
"Who can beat this guy? He was in trouble in the first round, but he showed he has the chin and the will," Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer said of Thurman. "He kept grinding, grinding. This is one helluva fighter. The Broner-Maidana winner is a possibility. There are so many great matchups, but he is certainly right there at the very top of the 147-pound weight class."
The fight started fast, with both doing damage in the opening round. Soto Karass staggered Thurman (22-0, 20 KOs) with a big overhand right in the opening seconds of the fight, but Thurman, 25, of Clearwater, Fla., finished the round strong, returning the favor and rocking Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KOs) in the final seconds with a pair of rights.
Thurman made Soto Karass, 31 and a native of Mexico, do a little jump when he landed a hard right hand in the fourth round; he then knocked him down in the fifth, landing a solid left hook to the chin.
Thurman finished things off in the ninth. He hurt Soto Karass, whose face was swelling, early in the round with a pair of right hands. Later in the round, Thurman hurt him with a left hook and immediately stiffened Soto Karass' legs with a huge right hand. Thurman landed another left hook against a defenseless Soto Karass, who was falling to the mat as referee Jon Schorle was stopping it at 2 minutes, 21 seconds.
"He tested my chin, but a true champion takes shots and gives shots," Thurman said. "That last punch was a devastating punch. He was like a bobblehead standing up.
"They can take it for a few rounds, but they can't take it for 12 rounds. I saw I had him hurt. He was buzzed standing up and I finished the show."
Santa Cruz outpoints Seda to retain title
Making his first defense, junior featherweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz (26-0-1, 15 KOs) retained his belt in an action-packed but clear decision win against Puerto Rico's Cesar Seda (25-2, 17 KOs). All three judges had it for Santa Cruz, 117-110, 116-111, 115-112. ESPN.com also had it for Santa Cruz, 118-109.
"It was a tough guy. I am sorry, San Antonio, I couldn't do what I wanted to do," said Santa Cruz, who wasn't happy with his performance and said he was troubled by Seda's southpaw style. "I wanted to give a better fight. Next time I'll work harder and try to do better. I feel good. The sooner [I fight again], the better for me. I want to stay at 122 [pounds], maybe spend  at 122, and we'll see after that."
Santa Cruz was, as always, very aggressive. He was backing up Seda and rocked him with a left hook in the third round. In the fourth, he cornered him and landed several hard shots. And in the fifth, Santa Cruz finally dropped Seda, landing a right hand to the chin in the final 15 seconds of the round.
Seda was giving a big effort, but he was outgunned. Santa Cruz, 25, a Mexico native living in Southern California, rocked him several times, including in the ninth round with an overhand right.
Seda was going for a knockout in the 12th round, swarming Santa Cruz and doing everything he could to land a big punch. But Santa Cruz was there to answer.
With Seda dismissed, Santa Cruz said he wants to face Northern Ireland's Carl Frampton, who has been calling him out.
Seda, 27, of Puerto Rico, dropped to 0-2 in world title bouts, having also lost a decision to Omar Narvaez in a 2011 junior bantamweight title fight in Argentina.
Seda said he believes he won the fight.
"It was a robbery, and I want an immediate rematch," said Seda, who almost certainly will not get one.
Shumenov blitzes Kovacs
Light heavyweight titlist Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs) scored three knockdowns in a one-sided third-round destruction of Tamas Kovacs (23-1, 14 KOs) that probably set him up for a unification fight with Bernard Hopkins next.
Shumenov, 30, from Kazakhstan but living in Las Vegas, dominated the first round and then, with about 15 seconds left, dropped Kovacs with a clean left hook to the chin. Kovacs beat the count, but the round ended before Shumenov could get off another punch.
Kovacs went down again late in the second round on a short left hook, and Shumenov dropped him again with a powerful right hand in the third round. Referee Rafael Ramos then called off the fight at 2 minutes, 55 seconds.
Shumenov, a 2004 Olympian who won a world title in just his 10th fight and was making his fifth defense against Kovacs, 36, of Slovakia, had never before faced a name opponent.
Hopkins, who was ringside, joined Shumenov in the ring for his postfight Showtime interview.
"My main goal is to unify the titles," Shumenov said. "I know Bernard wants to fight me. I'd be honored. He's a truly legendary champion. I would be honored. I am ready."
Hopkins, standing next to Shumenov, said of the proposed fight, "Hope he doesn't fight that well if we fight each other. That right hand was coming down the pike. He warmed up a bit and executed very well. It will be an honor to take his belt."
Taylor knocks out Candelo
Fighting for the first time in 14 months, former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor dominated J.C. Candelo en route to a seventh-round knockout.
Taylor (32-4-1, 20 KOs) hammered Candelo (32-13-4, 21 KOs) with a stiff jab and repeated combinations to the head and body before dropping him with a powerful left-right combination to the head in the seventh. Candelo had taken a lot of punishment when referee Wilfredo Esperon waved off the fight without a count at 2 minutes, 58 seconds.
While Taylor opened up with his punches from the outset, Candelo was in a defensive shell and offered little. He went down to his knees from an accidental low blow in the third round and took a couple of minutes to catch his breath. In the fourth round, Taylor continued to go the body and had the badly faded Candelo, 39, of Colombia, a junior middleweight contender a decade ago, covering up along the ropes and taking punishment. That's the way most of the fight went.
Although Taylor, 35, of Little Rock, Ark., was in command, he said he wasn't happy with his performance and sounded too hard on himself after what appeared to be a sharp outing.
"Horrible," he said of his performance. "Got to get back to work. I wasn't getting my punches off. I need to get back in the ring more often. I had the jab going, but I waited a little too much when I had him on the ropes. It was perfect that I went some rounds. I can't complain. A win is a win. He was just trying to survive."
Taylor hadn't fought since October 2012, his third fight in 10 months following a 26-month layoff, which followed a brutal 12th-round knockout loss to Arthur Abraham in the Super Six World Boxing Classic that resulted in a small brain bleed, concussion and short-term memory loss. It had been Taylor's second bad knockout loss in a row and his fourth loss in five fights, three of which were by hard knockout.
After the long layoff, Taylor had numerous medical exams and was licensed in Nevada before launching his comeback.
"He's fighting his way back," trainer Pat Burns said. "I loved how he went to the body. Jermain's jab is still as hard as lot of guys' right hand."
Golden Boy's Schaefer said Taylor could return as soon as Jan. 25 on a card in Washington, D.C.
Taylor called a quick return "a blessing."
"I just need to be more active to get where I want to go," Taylor said.
• Junior welterweight Ricardo Alvarez (28-4, 20 KOs), the 32-year-old older brother of former junior middleweight titlist and Mexican star Canelo Alvarez, won a hard-fought majority decision against Rod Salka (18-3, 3 KOs), 30, of Bunola, Pa., who is trained by former lightweight titleholder Paul Spadafora.
Fighting in the United States for the first time and with his brother as part of his entourage, Ricardo Alvarez won in the same ring where Canelo unified world titles against Austin Trout before a crowd of nearly 40,000 in April. Alvarez, the harder puncher, won 98-92 and 96-94 on two scorecards, while one judge had it 95-95. Many at ringside thought Salka deserved the decision.
• Lightweight Jamel Herring (6-0, 4 KOs), 28, a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Coram, N.Y., routed Lance Williams (6-3, 6 KOs) of Muscatine, Iowa, knocking him down three times in the second round for the knockout victory at 2 minutes, 59 seconds.
• Lightweight prospect Robert Easter Jr. (8-0, 8 KOs), 22, of Toledo, Ohio, scored a body-shot knockout of Hardy Paredes (16-13, 10 KOs) of Chile at 2 minutes, 30 seconds of the first round of their scheduled eight-rounder.
Easter stalked Paredes and eventually landed a brutal left hand to the body that dropped Paredes face-first to his knees before referee Lee Rogers counted him out.
• Cincinnati bantamweight Rau'shee Warren (9-0, 3 KOs), the three-time U.S. Olympian and close friend of Broner, suffered a bloody nose but cruised past Jose Silveira (15-10, 6 KOs) of Mexico in their eight-rounder. All three judges had it 80-72 for Warren, who fired fast combinations from all angles and won easily.