Keith Thurman punches Danny Garcia, right, during the third round of a welterweight championship boxing match Saturday, March 4, 2017, in New York. Thurman won the fight. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
I have never been a huge fan of Danny Garcia; however, I will say he is still among the elite at 147 even after the first loss of his career. Garcia, now 33-1, lost a split decision against Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KO’s) who stayed undefeated this past Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The fight was not the most exciting, which was not necessarily a surprise, given the technical skills of each fighter. I expected each of them to let their hands go a little more, but it went down pretty much as anticipated. It was a close fight that was edged out deservedly by Thurman, but Garcia fought tough the whole way in his first fight at this weight class. I scored six definite rounds for Thurman and five for Garcia, with one swing round which could have went either way. However, many rounds scored for Garcia were close; subsequently the 116-112 scorecard was was not atrocious, although I think the 115-113 scorecards were a much more accurate reflection of the fight.
The talk now becomes “What’s next for Keith Thurman?” One obvious name would be Manny Pacquiao, whose fight with Amir Khan this summer was canceled in the last 24 hours. Pacquiao is still considered the best at 147, and I doubt a fight with Thurman is very likely because of conflicting promotions between Bob Arum with Top Rank and Al Haymon with Premier Boxing Champions. That said, you can also rule out Terence Crawford who I think might be the best fighter at 147 but is also with Top Rank so a fight with Thurman is not likely. That brings me to a fight with the winner between Kell Brook and undefeated, fast rising star Errol Spence which takes place in early summer. Personally, I would love to see Thurman get thrashed by Terence Crawford but I would definitely settle for the winner of Brook vs. Spence. I will go on the record saying I see Spence using that fight as a spring board for his career. Should that be the case, I would definitely be game to watch and attend a fight between Thurman and Spence, hopefully later this fall.
Anyways, back to the loser in Saturday’s fight. Danny Garcia is not the most impressive fighter in my opinion, but he is consistent and he is highly skilled; and until he faced Thurman, he has always found a way to win. Unfortunately, in this one, Garcia was slightly outmatched in speed, footwork, and power but he was in the fight until the final bell. Had Garcia let his hands go in a few more rounds, he may have been able to pull out a victory given Thurman was mostly moving and fighting not to lose in the later rounds. I don’t think either fighter was overly impressive in the fight, and neither seemed to catch a real rhythm, but Garcia seemed to struggle the most to find his and consequently looked tired and defeated in his corner in-between many rounds.
Again, I will admit I’ve never been a big fan of Danny Garcia but I do respect his skill and talent. No matter who he fights next, whether at 147 or if he drops back down to 140, he will always be in a fight. You have to appreciate that. I don’t necessarily even blame him for this fight not being exciting, but rather chalk it up to the tactical strategy Thurman brought to Garcia. Although it was Garcia’s first fight at 147, Thurman still respected his power and played it fairly safe in the victory. In an emotional response after the fight, Angel Garcia mentioned retirement for his son. It seemed a bit silly and premature but not a surprising response from a fighter’s father not used to seeing his son lose. I believe Garcia will have many more fights and stay among the elite names in the welterweight divisions moving forward in an already great career.
Besides, why wouldn’t Garcia fight against top fighters, particularly given he made two million dollars in this one but took relatively no damage or punishment. Hard to pass that type of money up given he is still such a young fighter.