Saturday night in Brooklyn, WBA champion Keith Thurman and WBC boss Danny Garcia will unify the same welterweight titles Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns fought over in their 1981 classic. Although no one is expecting Thurman-Garcia to reach the transcendent heights of Leonard-Hearns I, it is one of the most significant fights that can be made in boxing’s fractured landscape. Both Thurman and Garcia are undefeated and in their athletic primes, and the fight’s promotion has turned contentious, with bad blood promising to spill over into the ring. Can Thurman-Garcia possibly match its hype? Will either man deliver a star-making performance in front of what promises to be a massive live audience watching on CBS? The Fight City’s staff weighs in with their predictions.
Lee Wylie (Danny Garcia): It will be interesting to see who can make the other guy do what he doesn’t want to do, because that’s likely where the fight will be won and lost.
Thurman is perhaps more stylistically versatile than Garcia. He is also naturally bigger, faster, more mobile, and probably a harder puncher. But for me, Garcia is the superior technician, and more importantly, the savvier fighter.
“One Time” is a fairly shrewd operator himself, and he is very effective when using his jab and lateral movement to control the range and keep his opponent off balance. But he sometimes gets caught up in the moment and can be drawn into the wrong kind of fight. Needless to say, this could prove detrimental against a fighter the calibre of Garcia, who is especially dangerous during exchanges and on the counter, particularly with timely, well-disguised looping punches which make a mockery of the old axiom that states, “straight punches always reach the target before arcing ones.”
Garcia never looks spectacular going about his work. In fact, he tends to look rather ordinary. Still, he always manages to get the job done, and that’s why I’m picking him to win by decision, or, if he invests wisely in body punching, late TKO.
Ronnie McCluskey (Keith Thurman): Although I rate Garcia highly and have been a big fan since he iced Amir Khan, I see Thurman’s superior footwork, hand speed and power winning the day. He’s just a little bit more dynamic than Danny, overall. Thurman by majority decision.
Sean Crose (Danny Garcia unless Thurman stops him): This is a close one. I think Thurman is the stronger and more mobile of the two fighters — something that will clearly give him an edge. I also think “One Time” will be expecting Garcia to focus on the body and will also be well aware of “Swift’s” counterpunching ability. There is, however, a caveat: Judges love Danny. Love him to death. Unless Thurman scores a stoppage, I’m afraid Garcia will win the decision, whether he deserves to or not.
Chris Connor (Keith Thurman): Danny Garcia’s best wins have all come over guys who were at junior welterweight or who lacked punching power. At 147 he has not been able to knock out or drop anyone who is a legitimate top 15 guy. Thurman seems to have had that tough fight with Shawn Porter and was able to weather the storm and pressure. That, coupled with the fact that Garcia has regressed at times in cutting off the ring and has suffered from an inconsistent punch output, gives the edge to Thurman to unify the titles. Keith Thurman TKO 10.
Robert Portis (Keith Thurman): Danny Garcia has gotten lucky too many times and his showdown with “One Time” is his long-awaited reckoning. Thurman will neutralize all the advantages Garcia is used to having and at some point he’s going to hurt him. After that he will keep him on the defensive and dictate the fight. Thurman by unanimous decision or late round TKO.
Manny Montreal (Keith Thurman): Despite Garcia constantly surprising me and stepping up to the plate when it comes to big fights, I still lean towards Thurman, who is the more conventional boxer and in my mind the one who has more power. For me, Thurman’s defining moment was against Shawn Porter, and I think this performance will top that. Thurman by late TKO or split decision.
Alfonso Jasso (Keith Thurman): Thurman vs Garcia is just one of those fights that promises entertainment. Thurman is the favorite heading into the bout for obvious reasons; he is the bigger man and the harder puncher. But if Danny “Swift” Garcia has convinced us of anything throughout his career, it’s that he is a great underdog. Garcia has twice overcome serious adversity (again Amir Khan and Lucas Matthysse), and in both instances he’s beat the odds. He is an excellent all-around pugilist who adapts very well to his opponent’s style throughout a fight. Against Keith “One Time” Thurman though, I’m afraid he’ll come up short.
Garcia is known for having explosive power, particularly with his left hook. That power, however, has not transferred well to welterweight. It’s respectable, but not as devastating as it was at 140. This is why I don’t believe he’ll be able to keep the bigger Thurman at bay. Garcia’s ability to adapt well is the reason I see him putting up a great fight, but unfortunately for him, Thurman also adjusts brilliantly. Keith’s ring smarts and intelligent footwork, paired up with his speed and athleticism, will be key in this fight because they will allow his advantages in both size and power to overwhelm Garcia as the bout progresses. I don’t think Thurman stops him, but I do see Garcia tasting the canvas at some point in the fight. This will ultimately be the difference in a close decision. Thurman by UD.
Michael Carbert (Keith Thurman): This is a tough match to pick but my sense is Thurman right now is more confident and he has the bigger toolbox. I see him calling the tune and, if he doesn’t get hurt or knocked down by one of Garcia’s big left hooks, winning most of the rounds. Thurman by decision.
Patrick Connor (Danny Garcia): Even though I’d like to see Danny Garcia finally get the pastel-colored bug eye sunglasses smacked off his head by Keith Thurman, I have a feeling Garcia will find a way to win. Thurman is talented but tends to fight between styles and hasn’t had to do much adjusting. Garcia is easy to dislike but has far better wins than Thurman, however long ago they may seem. Garcia by decision.
Daniel Attias (Danny Garcia): The fact that a unification bout between two of boxing’s belt holders elicits so much delirium from fans is indicative of the sports ‘business first’ mantra, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be excited for such an event. A battle between two undefeated champions, this fight is a real ‘pick-em’ affair and there are few who are confident in picking the outcome of the bout.
In one corner you have the villain, Danny Garcia, a man who’s best work thus far has occurred in the 140 pound weight class. Garcia’s career has featured a plethora of favourable decisions mixed with some quality wins but certainly not enough to warrant him being worthy of a lofty perch atop the welterweight division. He still has a lot to prove. Keith Thurman, like Garcia, is undefeated. Unlike his opponent though, his wins have less to do with the failing vision or morally corrupt nature of the three people judging his bouts. His victories have been on the level.
I don’t see Thurman’s power troubling Garcia. Danny has been in the ring with some big punchers before and has always found a way to nullify their power. I expect him to do the same to Thurman. Keith is a quality fighter and while he will land his fair share of shots, I expect Garcia to do just enough to avoid the bombs and counter punch his way to victory by the slimmest of margins in a classic welterweight unification.
Matt O’Brien (Keith Thurman): When this fight was announced, my immediate reaction was Thurman on points. The more I’ve thought about it though, the more I’ve worried that perhaps I am underestimating Garcia. He isn’t the most popular man in the sport right now, but he’s a dangerous fighter and a deceptively effective boxer. Thurman may be more skillful, but Garcia is strong and durable and somehow always finds a way to win. If he can force Thurman into trading on the inside and look to catch him with his powerful counters, he will cause him a lot of trouble. I am still going to go with my original instinct and say Thurman’s more varied skill-set sees him through on points, though I do so with less conviction the nearer the fight draws.
Jamie Rebner (Keith Thurman): I favour “One Time” in this match-up. He has faced the tougher opposition as of late and I feel he is performing at a higher level. Garcia’s counterpunching might cause some problems, but I don’t think Danny will be able to handle the intelligent pressure Thurman will apply. Thurman by UD.
Thad Moore (Danny Garcia): Quite a few answers to unanswered questions will be made apparent after Saturday night. Is Danny Garcia a paper champion? Is Keith Thurman overrated? Dictating the pace will be the key decider in this bout’s outcome. In order to be successful, both Garcia and Thurman need to draw the other man forward. Whoever is successful moving backward and outboxing their opponent will win this match. As we saw in the Porter battle, Thurman is susceptible to the body, and Garcia should be able to exploit that. My pick is that Garcia fights as the boxer in this bout and wins by decision.
Damien Burton (Keith Thurman): Bit torn. I’m going let my heart rule and go with Thurman. I’m expecting him to be better accustomed to the weight, and although Garcia is more seasoned, I just think Thurman’s a little more cerebral and that’s going to be a factor; Thurman’s had to dig a little deeper and show a little more diversity in his last fight than I think Garcia is used to having to adapt to of late.
Zachary Alapi (Danny Garcia): Although there’s reason to believe that Danny Garcia is due his comeuppance, and that Keith Thurman is the ideal fighter to humble him, Garcia has a practically maddening ability to find a way to win. Thurman may be the more gifted and powerful pugilist, but Garcia is methodical and battle-tested; moreover, his overall resume is stronger, and he’s proven he can overcome adversity and close with abandon in a gruelling championship fight when he upset Lucas Matthysse. These intangibles, plus Garcia’s vaunted left hook and likely ability to bother Thurman with body shots, will make the difference. Danny Garcia MD 12.
Final tally: Thurman: 8; Garcia: 6