One of the best fights of the year is only three weeks away and judging by fan pre-fight anticipation it’s going to be huge night for boxing. Enter Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman two welterweight champions on a collision course showcased in this unification bout. When the bout was first signed last year, I covered it here and as fans curiosity begins to peak it became apparent I must return to the scene of the crime. We are about to witness a rare commodity in the sport, a perfect storm of all aspects of promotion lining up perfectly just to capture our imaginations for 36 minutes or less of orchestrated mayhem.
Besides both our heroes putting their recognized championship belts on the line, they also are fighting for the prestigious honor of remaining undefeated. The fact we get both men in their primes with contrasting styles and it’s a match that everyone will be talking about with passion until a better one on the horizon usurps it. There is a distinct possibility that the following week’s headliner of Middleweight Champion Gennady Golovkin verses Daniel Jacobs may make the aura of this match short lived but that makes it a win/win for fans. Both matches will be looked in rear view mirror at years’ end for possible fight of the year candidates.
Even the monikers for this scrap have that glory day’s sensibility that separates the masses into two rabid collections of eager fans willing to give up date night to sit with buddies and watch the carnage unfold with the same enthusiasm as the Super Bowl. Danny “Swift’ Garcia Vs Keith “One Time” Thurman. While almost any nickname would suit Danny better as his deliberate slow footwork is anything, but swift, the kid has a smooth blend of power and speed. Keith has not been the “One Time” his career was based on lately going the distance in three of his last four bouts, but don’t let that throw cold water on a great event.
The bout will be hosted at Barclay’s Center Brooklyn, New York, which has become an incredibly popular Boxing showcase since it opened its doors in 2012. The Center has hosted many terrific fights in its short history becoming if you will, a second Madison Square Garden type atmosphere. Fans unable to secure a live seat can catch the thrills for free as it will be shown on CBS, by its Showtime Championship boxing sponsor and affiliate.
The 28 year old Garcia owns a pristine record of 33-0, 19 KO’s. He fights from orthodox stance and has a reach of 68 and a half inches. At 5’8 and a half, he is a well-proportioned 147 pounder with excellent balance.
Thurman also is orthodox fighter who matches up at 28 years of age. Undefeated record of 27-0, 22 KO’s. Standing at 5’7 and a half inches with 69’ reach our boys will be seeing eye to eye all night.
While Thurman has matured, and prospered on useful opponents he hasn’t quite bitten into the higher echelon of contenders quite yet. Bonafide victories over trail horses like Jesus Soto Karass, Luis Collazo, and Leonard Bundu have made Keith a force to follow, but only former champs Robert Guerrero and Shawn Porter stand out as true tests both having heard the final bell.
Garcia owns a “who’s who” resume of victories over junior welterweight competition. Beyond inspiring it boasts a galaxy of star studded headliners. Kendall Holt, Amir Kahn, Erik Morales, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse, Lamont Peterson, Paulie Malignaggi, and Mauricio Herrera all fulfill a dossier of hall of fame potential. The welterweight division has been anointed boxing most talent laden division for several years but there has been an avoidance of the top names squaring off inside the ring. As we roll forward waiting to merge Thurman’s WBC Belt with Garcia’s WBA hardware with a unified winner, Manny Pacquaio holds the lineal and WBO version hostage with an April defense against unbeaten and untested Jeff Horn.
From there it appears he will likely give 140 pound champion Terrence Crawford the next shot as both are promoted by Top Rank. The past two weeks have seen the board room negotiations between IBF champion Kell Brook and his mandatory number one contender Errol Spence, JR. close to being a signed deal for this spring.
With that being covered what hasn’t been lost in translation is Danny’s best work has been at junior welterweight. His refusal to grant rematches in extremely close fights with both Peterson and Herrera have left many fans angry crying out these gents were robbed on scorecards. I believe he lost both matches also. Making matters worse was one time hot boxer Robert Guerrero being allowed to jump to head of the pack and challenge Garcia for vacated title while others were more deserving.
The knock on Keith is he has handicappers wondering if he can take a brutal body shot and if he can avoid them knowing Danny will target his abs and ribs after witnessing Keith staggered twice in recent bouts due to body work.
Styles align up amicably for a barnburner bout that many predict an ending that won’t go into judge’s hands. Danny has a tendency to start cold and need three or four rounds to warm up which won’t bode well being behind against Keith. Garcia also telegraphs most punches and relies on same combinations over and over making timing him less of a challenge. His style dictates warfare in a phone booth once he engages the pocket. Thurman will appear to fight tall using every inch of his height and reach in an attempt to pick his foe apart and use entire ring keeping him at bay until it serves his purpose that he has wounded his adversary before going for the “one time.”
While both men can throw vicious flurries, it’s Garcia who forgets to tuck his chin and keep his guard up while exchanging heavy leather. Thurman will out jab his counterpart and use it as a scoring weapon all night. Both combatants are adept at sliding out of pocket to a blind angle before recommitting to combat. At 147 pounds Keith throws more punches per round.
What to look for on fight night…
Both champions will be in superb condition and mentally focused with career defining fight before them. Someone’s belt and “0” will pass into history that night elevating the victory to a higher echelon. At the opening bell both men will jockey for position to land the first significant blow and work off corner aggression while trying to avoid over thinking the tactic and getting caught cold looking to make a statement.
Keith will use a fast jab before and after every combination forever moving and changing angles. Having witnessed Danny struggle a few times at 140 pounds Thurman believes he is the naturally bigger, stronger fighter and will look to test Danny’s whiskers long before he gravitates to fights tempo. Garcia will invite Thurman inside the pocket where he plans to set up his offense with a body attack before going upstairs. Danny will be surprised to find Keith actually digging to the ribs more setting up his headshots.
By round four Danny will already have fallen behind on points and need to corner Keith and make it an all-out war for real estate. Angel Garcia won’t be doing his son any favors or justice by constantly telling him that he is winning and go for the knockout. Mobility and defense at this level go to Thurman as well as punch stats. While power is questionable as to who holds the advantage, it is safe to say they are quite close to even and the breakout to equation will be two fold. Who can land more and who has a better chin?
The outcome will be determined before final bell barring either boxer breaking a hand or receiving a severe cut putting them on survival mode. Fans will be treated to a glorious night of warfare among two of the best welters. By the end of the eighth-round Keith will begin to pull ahead remembering to box and win rounds if the knockout doesn’t present itself.
The electric atmosphere at Barclays often gets to fever pitch with an outstanding loyal crowd of supporters who can easily influence a judge’s mind with every punch thrown. Rounds nine and ten will show Danny’s sometimes foolish aggression as his face will show the swelling of being hit by the naturally heavier man. No one can deny Garcia has been missing something for the last two years and it doesn’t appear to be coming back. His last bout against Samuel Vargas was a glorified sparring session and no barometer to gage his ability against a real 147 pound test. While writers and fans were questioning team Garcia why Herrera and Peterson didn’t deserve rematches I am wondering aloud if Danny secretly is questioning himself.
If the score cards are out of sync with reality a knockdown by either fighter, even of flash variety could secure the win. If the bout comes down to a mindset of wills over skills it will be Keith stopping Danny in the championship rounds by TKO or winning a decision after capturing the second half of fight. Some fans may boo if Thurman has tasted thunder and elects to box, but the end result is a win in the win column.
It’s easy to envision the aftermath with the loser claiming he won and asking the crowd to initiate a rematch while his corner goes berserk screaming in background. Thank you Barclay’s for banning Angel Garcia from addressing post-fight conferences. (Due to racist rants at first New York Press Conference)
Yours truly prefers to see the winner call out both Brook and Spence, JR. in hopes of drawing the winner into a belt trifecta come the fall in a mega showdown.
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