Keith Thurman unifies welterweight title in split decision win over Danny Garcia
Thurman captured Garcia's WBC welterweight strap, unifying it with his WBA title on Saturday
NEW YORK -- Keith Thurman’s quest to prove he’s the best welterweight in the world took one giant step forward Saturday night in Brooklyn, and it included surviving a scare in order to unify two of the four welterweight titles.
Thurman (28-0-1, 22 KOs) hurt Danny Garcia early and relied on his speed and boxing ability late to unify the 147-pound world titles in a battle of unbeaten stars. But Thurman’s insistence on disengaging and circling away from Garcia late in the bout left the door open on the scorecards for a split decision.
Two judges scored it 116-112 and 115-113 for Thurman. The third had it 115-113 for Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs), who appeared to steal the final two rounds based upon activity alone after being outclassed for much of the fight. CBS Sports scored it 116-112 for Thurman.
“Keith ran half the fight; boxing is about hitting, not running,” said Angel Garcia, trainer and father of Danny Garcia. “Danny tried to be the aggressor, but Keith was just moving so much.”
Thurman, 28, made the fourth defense of his WBA welterweight title and captured Garcia’s WBC belt in front of 16,533 fans in the highest-attended boxing event in Barclays Center history. It was only the second primetime boxing telecast on CBS since 1978.
“The judges are judges; I thought I outboxed him,” Thurman said. “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.”
Thurman, who improved to 7-0 in world title fights, landed 147 shots compared to 130 for Garcia, according to CompuBox.
“I came up short tonight,” Garcia said. “I thought I was the aggressor. I thought I pushed the pace, but it didn’t go my way.”
He later added: “It is what it is. I can’t cry over anything. I’ll come back strong like a true champion. I would love to have a rematch to get my titles back.”
Thurman came out firing in Round 1 and proved to be the more dangerous puncher by twice wobbling Garcia in the opening frame, first with a hard left hook and later with a counter right hand. Once Thurman transitioned into a boxer in the middle rounds, he began to build a cushion.
Garcia, 28, appeared to be a step behind most of the fight and had trouble with Thurman’s hand and foot speed. Thurman further confused Garcia by forcing him to take the lead and countering the counterpuncher with clean power shots.
Thurman not only took away Garcia’s money punch, a “no look” left hook, he then established his own as the most meaningful punch in the fight. The more Thurman controlled the pace in the second half of the fight and disarmed Garcia, the more the pro-“Swift” crowd began to boo.
But in a scene that eerily became comparable to Oscar De La Hoya giving away his lead late in his 1999 welterweight unification showdown against Felix Trinidad, Thurman began to circle and make Garcia miss late without throwing much in return.
“We knew we had the fight won in the later rounds,” said Dan Birmingham, Thurman’s trainer. “We didn’t want to take any chances. Keith was scoring but he was backing up, sticking and moving. We knew that Danny could hit, and he’s a great fighter.”
Garcia initially thought he had won and began to celebrate as the final judges’ scorecard was announced. Thurman remained calm and cool as ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. read his name as the winner of the split-decision in the 10th unification title bout in the history of the welterweight division.
“I was not giving the fight away,” Thurman said. “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.”
Thurman vs. Garcia scorecard
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