“One Time” Wins Big Time
Thurman took his foot off the gas during the championship rounds, but he didn’t pull an Oscar De La Hoya against Felix Trinidad…
Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, WBA welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 1 ND, 22 KOs), the exemplary boxer-puncher from Clearwater, Florida, won a 12-round split decision victory over WBC welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs), from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to unify the titles.
Judges John McKaie and Joseph Pasquale scored it 116-112 and 115-113 for Thurman, while Kevin Morgan had it 115-113 for Garcia.
Fighting out of the red corner in red, white and blue trunks, Thurman relied on his intelligence and elevated skills to outwork and outpunch his one-dimensional opponent. Using the ring, lateral movement, and a sophisticated defense, there was no doubt, except in the mind of one of the judges, that he was the better fighter.
Garcia, fighting out of the blue corner in black and white leopard trunks, was the aggressor, but more often than not it was ineffective aggression, as he followed Thurman around the ring, hoping to land a bomb that would end it.
Thurman brought the fight to Garcia at the opening bell. Garcia was looking to counter, but Thurman was too slick a moving target to be caught, and too smart to stand there and trade. Thurman landed a big left hook a minute into round one, followed by a right that stunned the Philly fighter. He landed another right hand lead to the head. Then he connected with left to the body and a right uppercut. Thurman swept the round and looked terrific doing it.
His superiority was already showing.
There were ebbs and flows during the fight when dominance momentarily changed hands, but Garcia, who peaked when he fought Lucas Matthysse four years ago, was as flatfooted and devoid of creativity as usual. He does not cut off the ring. He does not let his hands go. He not vary his punches or their velocity. He has a limited arsenal. Despite that critique, Garcia is talented, up to a point, but was it not for the gift decisions he received when he fought Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson, he and his “undefeated” record would not have been deemed worthy to fight Keith Thurman.
Thurman took his foot off the gas during the championship rounds, but he didn’t pull an Oscar De La Hoya against Felix Trinidad, where the Golden Boy, thinking he had the fight in the bag, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Thurman fought smart, very smart, from opening to closing bell, and he boxes like a dream.
Of course not everyone agrees. There were some among the 16,533 in attendance who booed lustily as the fight wore on. They must have thought, insofar as thinking had anything to do with it, that if this is New York, this must be MMA. Imagine their disappointment. And then there are those who picked Garcia to win, who are obviously no more skilled at prognosticating than they are at writing.
To the surprise of no one, Angel Garcia, Danny’s father/trainer, saw the fight like the boo birds and dodos.
“Keith ran half the fight,” he said. “Boxing is about hitting, not running. Danny tried to be the aggressor, but Keith was just moving so much.”
That’s the oldest excuse in the book and it has worn thin. Boxing is called the sweet science, for God’s sake, and for a reason. It’s not called rock ‘em sock ’em robots.
Is it possible that might matter?
“The judges are judges,” said Thurman after the fight. “I thought I out-boxed him. I thought it was a clear victory, but Danny came to fight. I knew when it was split and I had that wide spread, I knew that it had to go to me.
“You’re not just fighting your opponent sometimes, you’re fighting the judges. They have their own perspective. I know I was backing up and being defensive. I feel like a lot of Danny’s power punches were ineffective. I was controlling the fight from the outside. There were some rounds that I was dominating. I knew that I had pulled ahead. We felt like we definitely earned the victory.
“I was not giving the fight away. I felt like we had a nice lead, we could cool down. I felt like we were controlling the three-minute intervals every round. My defense was effective—he wasn’t landing.”
Punch stats suggest the fight was closer than it appeared. According to CompuBox, Thurman landed 147 of 570 total punches (26%) to 130 of 434 (30%) for Garcia. Thurman landed more jabs, 45 of 295 (15%) to 41 of 212 (19%) for Garcia. He also landed more power punches, connecting with 102 of 275 (26%) to Danny’s 89 of 222 (40%).
Keith Thurman, as expected, was the better man and won the fight fair and square.