Saturday, March 4th 2017 marks the first of three significant Welterweight bouts over the next three months which will shake up the rankings in a loaded division.
Keith “One-Time” Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) and Danny “Swift” Garcia (33-0, 19 KOs) will meet in a WBA/WBC Welterweight unification fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Thurman acted as a catalyst to this fight finally materializing. At the post fight conference following his win over Shawn Porter, Thurman asserted, “I want Danny Garcia, I want one more belt… In my heart of hearts I want an opportunity to face Danny “Swift” Garcia… Put it this way if you’re a daddy’s boy come and see me.”
The promotion behind Thurman vs. Garcia kicked off unofficially this past November following Garcia’s seventh-round TKO victory over Samuel Vargas. Immediately after his victory, Garcia rushed to the ropes where Thurman was guest commentating for Spike TV, and started having words.
Garcia then asked the crowd, “If you want y’all want to see me whip this guy’s ass (pointing at Thurman), make some noise!”
The crowd roared in agreement. Garcia and Thurman went nose to nose, jawing at each other until they were broken up. Saturday couldn’t have come sooner for fight fans.
Read on for a complete preview and prediction for Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia.
Tale of the Tape
Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia are nearly identical when comparing age, weight, height and reach; Garcia has a slight edge in height and Thurman has a slightly longer reach.
The starkest difference between the two is knockout percentage. Thurman has an 81% knockout percentage compared to 58 percent for Garcia. To most ringside observers Garcia will be conceding overall power.
This is not to say Garcia doesn’t have the power to hurt Thurman, but it does support the likelihood of Thurman’s power punches carrying more force.
Although Thurman gives up an inch in height to Garcia, it’s negligible; Thurman is arguably the bigger man. Thurman has fought his entire career as a full-fledged welterweight at 147 pounds. This will only be Garcia’s fourth fight campaigning as welterweight since moving up from the junior welterweight division.
Keith Thurman comes into this fight off one of the biggest wins of his career against Shawn Porter. Until Danny Garcia, Thurman had yet to lure a marquee mainstream fighter into a bout.
One main factor is boxing is a business and the potential compensation from fighting someone like Thurman does not merit risk. Thurman doesn’t carry the fan base which translates into sold out arenas.
In today’s fight era, if a fighter can make comparable compensation with less risk of a loss, more times than not, that will be the path traveled.
Thurman understands this and will look to capitalize on the exposure of the Porter fight with a great performance during a CBS primetime spot against Garcia. It should also be noted that Thurman is coming into the fight having last fought nine months ago, whether this affects his performance will be on full display Saturday night.
Since his impressive victory over Lucas Matthysse, there has been growing criticism among fight fans and boxing pundits alike over Garcia’s opposition and performances. He earned close decision wins over Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson, which many observers felt should have been awarded the other way.
Garcia fought grossly overmatched Rod Salka and most recently Samuel Vargas. Those fights did nothing to capture the boxing public’s imagination. So to many, he has yet to prove himself at the Welterweight division although his worth at Junior Welterweight is unquestioned.
During the initial press conference, Angel Garcia went on an expletive tirade against Thurman in which both had to be separated. This has somewhat overshadowed how Thurman and Danny Garcia feel toward one another.
Beside their heated exchange after the Vargas fight, Danny Garcia and Thurman have been mostly amicable while each radiates their supreme confidence. It’s as if each fighter recognizes the magnitude of the fight and translates into their respect for one another.
Strengths for Each Fighter
Keith Thurman is a seasoned athletic fighter who seems to do everything well. His power is undeniable as evidenced by his knockout percentage. If he lands the straight/overhand right, the strong chin of Danny Garcia will be tested.
Often overlooked is the boxing ability of Thurman. He is a cerebral fighter both inside and outside of the ring. He has a high boxing IQ and understands the importance of mid-fight adjustments. In past fights he has come forward as the aggressor, but is also highly effective as a counter puncher.
Thurman’s offense is varied; he doesn’t neglect going to the body, works off his jab and uses his footwork to set the distance and create favorable positions.
Danny Garcia doesn’t have world class hand speed, but he does have great timing. If you look at Garcia’s fight against Amir Khan, Khan’s speed advantage was evident as he repeatedly tagged Garcia early on.
After the first couple of rounds, Garcia began to time Khan’s shots and eventually landed his patented left hook en route to a fourth-round TKO victory.
Garcia may not have the knockout percentage of Keith Thurman, but he is not without power. He has power on both hands and will keep Thurman honest during the fight.
Garcia’s tenacity is part of the identity he has as a fighter. When Garcia has been the underdog a few times in his career, each time he has shown his mettle in upset victories.
Weaknesses for Each Fighter
Keith Thurman is susceptible to the body. We have seen him hurt on more than one occasion with well-placed body shots; see the fifth round against Luis Collazo.
It definitely makes sense for Danny Garcia to invest in the body early to try to slow down Thurman in the later rounds.
Thurman’s offense is best when he has room to work. When Shawn Porter smothered Thurman, pushed him to the ropes and fought on the inside, he seemed to get the better of some fierce exchanges.
Garcia will have to earn Thurman’s respect by acting as the aggressor. At some point during the fight he will need to bully Thurman toward the ropes to work on the inside.
Danny Garcia has been known to start slow, usually giving away the first couple of rounds before getting his offense going. In what is expected to be a highly contested fight, Garcia has no room to concede any round, he must match Keith Thurman’s work rate.
In order to land his power shots Garcia needs to have his feet set. Against Lamont Peterson, Garcia had trouble landing his power punches because Peterson would use his moment to be out of position before Garcia could land anything of significance.
If Thurman uses his superior foot work to control the fight at his distance and move out of position before Garcia can effectively counter, it could be a long night for the WBC champion.
Winner and Why
Much has been made of the historical significance of this fight; it is only the 10th unification bout in the history of the Welterweight division, only the third time two undefeated fighters will meet in the unification bout; and only the second primetime event in the last 40 years on CBS.
Playing to a much wider audience, Saturday night’s fight has potential to inject new blood into a sport, which is big considering it has seen a decrease in mass appeal among the youth within the United States.
When comparing Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia, there are many similarities. Both have power in both hands, underrated boxing ability, and both are in the primes of their career. In trying to predict the outcome of the fight, one belief kept recurring in my mind–almost everything Garcia does, Thurman does better.
If Garcia tries to box and counter Thurman, Thurman’s hand speed, reach and movement will allow him to land cleanly without absorbing much in return from Garcia. If Garcia switches tactics and tries to work on the inside as to match the success Shawn Porter had against Thurman, he will have to eat Thurman’s power punches.
Garcia is not the most defensively skilled fighter. If Garcia pressures Thurman, I believe Thurman will land often, especially with the straight right. Although Garcia is known for a strong chin, I believe Thurman will drop Garcia for the first time in his career on route to a seventh-round TKO victory.
“We were bred for this at a young age. The winner of this fight is going to get what I call, spotlight priority… They are going to get high expectations set upon them,” said Thurman.
Before a winner is crowned, a fight must take place. Let’s hope Thurman and Garcia meet the high expectations of the boxing public during the fight to merit the high expectation of the winner post fight.
Winner: Keith Thurman