Last night WBA Super World welterweight champ Keith “One Time” Thurman (27W-0L-22KO’s) and WBC World welterweight champ Danny “Swift” Garcia (33W-0L-19KO’s) got on one of the prime stages in New York to display their abilities. This was debatably the most awaited fight of 2017 as soon as the contracts were signed, and for good reason. We had two unbeaten titleholders and both claimed to be the best the division had to offer, especially since the retiring of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
When the fans got wind that this fight was a possibility, the boxing forums and social media started buzzing with estimations, prophecies, and sometimes irrational rhetoric on why one fighter was head and shoulders above the other. To have a fight of this magnitude is very rare in this era, so to have this fight get made is just short of spectacular in nature. The lead up to this fight was full of what seemed to be bad blood between the two 28 year olds, especially once Garcia’s father, and trainer, went on a rant spewing racial slurs towards Thurman during a press conference, which caused controversy that turned into more fuel for the fight. Once the two made it into the ring and John Lennon Jr was done with the introductions… the ref said his piece… the fighters looked across the ring at each other… and the first bell sounded… it seemed like many people held their breath for at least a second.
Once the fight started Keith Thurman instantly went to work flinging 1-2 combos that made this contest hit the ground running; the traditional feeling out round was not in his plans, and even though he landed some decent punches, Garcia seemed to be un-phased and kept his composure. They traded and moved around the ring for most of the fight with both taking turns being the assailant, but no one landed a significant shot that propelled one above the other; both stayed controlled and calculated trying to figure each other out. If you take away the subtle things they did, this was a 50/50 fight straight down the middle.
This was one of those fights where you sit and wait for an eruption, but it never came. Thurman did something to Garcia I had never seen anyone do before, he took away his counter-punching. If you’ve ever seen Danny Garcia fight, you’ve seen his countering capabilities play a big part of his arsenal, which has helped him smash fighters like Amir Khan, in which he used a “no look left hook” which is accomplished perfectly when countering, but Thurman wanted no parts of that. From the beginning Thurman operated behind his jab by throwing it and also by pawing with it to assess Garcia’s movements to get an awareness of where his impulses are going to take him. He would hit Garcia with a jab and take a step or two back and force Danny to walk forward so he could use his own countering, or at least put Danny on attack mode so he wouldn’t use his. It was a brilliant plan that I believe Thurman operated the entire fight and ultimately it was the single most influential deterrent he used in the fight.
This was not a close fight and should not have been a split judgment, but the way boxing judges are setup sometimes, you never know when you’ll get a miscellaneous bag of nuts, but at least the right guy won.