Thurman defeats Garcia by split decision, unifies welterweight titles

Although it was a narrow victory on the scorecards, Keith Thurman delivered a dominant performance overall.

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Keith Thurman is now the unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion after his split decision victory over Danny Garcia Saturday. Photo: Amanda Wescott, Showtime Boxing
Keith Thurman is now the unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion after his split decision victory over Danny Garcia Saturday. Photo: Amanda Wescott, Showtime Boxing

SAN DIEGO, March 4, 2017 – Keith “One Time” Thurman got out to a quick start and coasted to a split decision win over Danny “Swift” Garcia in front of 16, 533 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and a broadcast TV audience on CBS.

Keith Thurman (right) started the fight strong and landed more punches overall than Danny Garcia. Photo: Amanda Westcott, Showtime Boxing
Keith Thurman (right) started the fight strong and landed more punches overall than Danny Garcia. Photo: Amanda Westcott, Showtime Boxing

Scores were 116-112 (John McKaie) and 115-113 (Joe Pasquale) for Thurman; and 115-133 for Garcia (Kevin Morgan). Thurman is now the WBA and WBC champion, and remains undefeated with 28 wins and 22 knockouts. Garcia is now 33-1, 19 KOs.

“One Time because Two Time tonight. Ain’t no robberies happening tonight,” declared Thurman.

Thurman risked a repeat of the infamous De La Hoya versus Trinidad welterweight fight 18 years ago, when De La Hoya won most of the early rounds, but let the fight slip away to Trinidad by being too cautious in the later rounds.


Thurman was the aggressor and in charge from the opening bell. He has the better foot movement and ring generalship, and he’s faster than Garcia. But when you are fighting a skilled counterpuncher like Garcia who waits for his opponents to throw and perfectly calculates where they’ve left themselves open, you’re always at risk.

Danny Garcia (right) landed effective body shots against Keith Thurman, but he didn’t throw enough to do damage. Photo: Amanda Wescott, Showtime Boxing

After landing a nice variety of hooks and upper cuts on Garcia, after the ninth round Thurman’s trainer Dan Birmingham told him “You got this, Keith. Be smart out there. You’re going home with two titles.” Again after the tenth, Birmingham told Thurman “Box smart.”

But Garcia the counterpuncher hurt himself by not forcing the action while Thurman chose his opportunities wisely. Garcia often has an uncanny ability to do just enough to win over the judges, and he did win over one. But not enough. Thurman landed 147 of 570 punches thrown (25 percent); Garcia landed 130 punches of 434 thrown (29 percent).

“The judges are judges man, I thought I outboxed him, I thought it was a clear victory,” said Thurman after the bout. “But Danny he came to fight. If a judge likes his fight style, if they didn’t like that I was moving backwards, I understand but overall, you hear the scorecards, there was a wide spread. I knew when it was split it had to go to me.”

Danny Garcia (left) won the last few rounds of the bout but it wasn’t enough to overcome Keith Thurman’s overall lead. Photo: Amanda Wescott, Showtime Boxing

When asked whether he gave away rounds at the end of the fight, Thurman said, “It was like winning the race, fast start, I felt like we had a nice lead. We could cool down. My coach said ‘box box box. You’re giving him a hard time.’ I felt like we were controlling the three-minute interval in each and every single round.”.

Garcia took the defeat with calm resignation. “I came up short tonight, I gave it my all. I thought I was the aggressor, I thought I pushed the pace of the fight, it didn’t go my way, oh well … I felt like he was trying to counter me with big shots coming in, so I tried to wait till he came in on me and get my punches off. I thought I pushed the fight like a true champion and I thought I’d get the victory.”

In the post-fight news conference, Thurman said, “Look man, I told him ahead of time. You fought (Amir) Kahn, he could box. You fought (Lucas) Matthysse, he could punch . But you never fought someone that could box and punch at the same time.

“Sports are scored on a point system,” Thurman explained. “Fight fans like to see a tremendous fight. Sometimes at a boxing match you see that, you get what you desire. But someone you see boxing. Boxing is an art. I finessed my way to victory … I had fun tonight.”

Garcia’s biggest fights have been at 140 pounds, not the 147-pound welterweight limit. Thurman is the naturally bigger man and has fought his entire career at 147 pounds. With both fighters in equally good condition, it gave the power punching edge to Thurman.

It’s fortunate there was no controversy. Most observers had the fight for Thurman. Among the boxing media, most had wider cards than the judges. Perhaps the only two people who felt it was a controversial outcome are the one judge who gave the fight to Garcia, and Garcia’s father and trainer, Angel.

During the post-fight news conference, Angel Garcia had his say. “You can’t win a fight running though. He hit Danny with a good shot in the first round … He ran in six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and twelve. You gotta be kidding me brother! There’s got to be contact with the person in front of you, you just can’t run …I’m not being a sore loser. You can’t be a world champion like that … I’m just disgusted with boxing right now. I want Danny to retire right now.”

Danny Garcia was far more gracious. “My dad’s always upset. He thought I won the fight. He’s a little upset but I told him, when you’re a true champion, you gotta take your defeats like your wins.”

Garcia said he’d love to get a rematch. Thurman said didn’ t have an opponent in mind, that he would sit back and reflect, and promised to be back in the ring later this year. “The welterweight division is a great division. I’ve got an oh and I’m not afraid to let it go,” said Thurman.

How about the winner of Spence vs. Brook? “Do I want to see three world titles trapped around me? Yes, I do,” said Thurman. “We live a life to make history. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a unified champion in the welterweight division. It will manifest itself, I just can’t tell you when.”

Erickson Lubin opened the CBS / Showtime broadcast with an impressive fourth round TKO win. Photo: Amanda Wescott, Showtime Boxing

In the opening bout, fans got a super introduction to super welterweight rising star Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin of Florida. Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs) unleashed his lethal left hook in Round 4 against solid Mexican opponent Jesse Cota, and everyone watching knew the fight was over before Cota hit the canvas. Cota (25-2, 22 KOs) managed to beat the count and get to his feet, but referee Earl Brown stopped the bout at 1:25 of the round.

Lubin was patient the first few rounds, getting a sense of Cota.I baited him with a jab, I kept throwing my jab,” said Lubin. “I knew he was coming with the big shots early … I put my hands down to bait him in, I bent down, and it was night night.”

Lubin now becomes the mandatory challenger for WBC title holder Jermell Charlo. If Lubin defeats Charlo, he would become the youngest current champion in boxing at age 21. Lubin said,That would mean a lot to me. That would mean a lot to Orlando, Florida, and that would mean a lot to kids out there.”

Andrzej Fonfara (left) pulled out a victory with a tenth round knockout of Chad Dawson. Photo: Amanda Wescott, Showtime Boxing

On the non-televised undercard, light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara (29-4, 17 KOs) got back into the thick of the division after his knockout loss to Joe Smith Jr. with a knockout of Chad Dawson 34-5, 19 KOs) in the tenth and final round of their bout. Dawson started the fight strong, and Fonfara was well behind on the judges’ scorecards. He needed a stoppage to win and he got it, drilling Dawson with a right hand, and referee David Fields stopped the bout. Fonfara is a fan friendly fighter with power, but he’s in a tough division and he’s got to up his game or the top talent won’t allow him the sort of comeback he managed Saturday.

Heather Hardy thrilled the hometown crowd with her 19th straight win. Photo: Ed Diller, DiBella Entertainment

American Heather “The Heat” Hardy put on a show for her hometown Brooklyn fans at the Barclays Center, winning a strong eight round unanimous decision over Edina Kiss (13-3, 8 KOs) of Hungary to remain undefeated at 19-0 (4 KOs).

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News when quoting from or linking to this story.

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Gayle Falkenthal
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.