Back in November, after Danny Garcia (33-0 19 KO) stopped Samuel Vargas, guest commentator Keith Thurman (27-0 22 KO) jumped in the ring and stated “I ain’t no cherry”, as in cherry-picking opponents, referring to Vargas and other past Garcia foes. Garcia not missing a beat retorted “Yes, you are, that’s why I picked you next”.
This Saturday night, we are in for a treat, it’s not often we get two highly skilled undefeated fighters in their prime getting after it. This will be the tenth unification in welterweight division history and only the third unification between undefeated fighters.
One from the mean streets of Philly, the other Clearwater, Florida. A chess match fought at the highest levels. One a puncher-boxer, the other a boxer-puncher.
Let’s take a deeper look.
Garcia- Age- 28 Height-5’8 1/2 Reach-68 1/2”
Thurman- Age- 25 Height-5’7 1/2 Reach-69”
11/12/16 W- TKO 7 Samuel Vargas,
Let’s call it like it is, this was a tune up, nothing more nothing less. Garcia did what he was supposed to do. A counter right dropped Vargas in the first. Vargas is a tough out but surprising it took six more rounds to finish the job. It was almost like intentional target practice with a tailor made opponent that would allow Garcia to get his work without danger preparing for March.
1/23/16 W- UD Robert Guerrero,
See common opponents.
8/1/15 W- TKO 9 Paulie Malignaggi
This was Garcia’s first go at 147. Good matchmaking picked a slick boxing light hitting veteran with a credible name. A gatekeper of sorts into the welterweight division. In his defense, Malignaggi was coming off a sixteen month layoff and it showed. Garcia bloodied him from pillar to post before stopping him in the ninth.
6/25/16 W- UD Shawn Porter,
Porter is tough as nails, quick, relentless, and with pretty much a granite chin. Thurman had to be at the top of his game and was, connecting on nearly forty-five percent of his punches while being multifaceted in his approach. This was a very close fight but in the end, the judges favored Thurman’s accuracy and power over Porter’s Tyson like aggression. As in the Collazo fight before it, Thurman was hit by a body shot that visibly shook him. In addition, there were many moments of toe to toe action in this one and one observation was the lack of defense on Thurman’s part as he moved in during these exchanges. His defense was non-existent leaving him vunerable to a counter shot.
7/11/15 W- TKO 8 Luis Collazo,
Thurman dominated the first four rounds and the start of the fifth before Collazo landed a perfect left to the body toward the end of the round that buckled Thurman. It was one of the few times in his career that we have seen him in trouble. Had there been more time left in the round it would have been interesting. Nonetheless, Thurman recovered between rounds and was able to continue his dominance which led to a bruised and bloody Collazo unable to continue after seven due to a bad cut over his right eye.
3/7/15 W-UD Robert Guerrero
See common opponents.
Common Opponents May Provide A Bit Of Clarity-
The only common opponent of the two is Guerrero.
Garcia defeated Guerrero by UD 116-112 on all three cards in a pretty close and competitive fight. Thurman defeated Guerero 120-107 and 118-109 X 2 in a mostly one-sided affair while being the only one of the two to floor the hard to drop Guerrero.
When asked to compare the punching power of both fighters, Guerrero stated that Thurman is by far the stronger puncher of the two and that Garcia’s power was not a factor at welter. It was Garcia’s second fight at 147 when he fought Guerrero.
Another few Guerrero observations were that Thurman’s jab was double that in power of Garcia’s right hand and while Garcia did have some power he felt it was not of the knockout variety for the weight class. That said, Guerrero notwithstanding, Garcia has stopped two of three opponents at 147.
What Does It All Mean?
Garcia fought twice in 2016, once at the beginning and once at the end. Going in, he will only have three months of inactivity which is to imply that he went right into camp shortly after the holidays. His timing, speed and movement should be at optimal levels.Conversely, Thurman only fought once last year, in June and prior to that, July of 2015. In just about four months short of two years come fight night, Thurman would have only been in the ring twice with only nineteen rounds of work. He’s a pro but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him a bit rusty.
At the age of seven, Thurman began to channel his aggression in the ring under the tutelage of Ben Getty, a father figure who taught Thurman about life and about going for the KO. “You are nothing without your power” Getty would tell Thurman, a life lesson from the school of hard knocks not lost on Thurman as evident by his “KO’s For Life” mantra. Thurman sadly lost Getty to an unexpected death in 2009 but still honors his trainer every time he steps in the ring. After Getty’s death, Thurman began working with Dan Birmingham, who did great work with Ronald “Winky” Wright and Jeff Lacy. When Thurman fights, you can often see the beauty of Wright’s boxing and the savagery of Lacy.
It’s no secret what Thurman will do in this fight. You’ll see the boxing, you’ll see the brawling. He’ll look to back up Garcia and impose his will. Thurman is one of the best in the game moving in and out. He footwork is effortless. His defense is not as tight as you’d like it andat times, when he moves in to land power shots, he leaves his chin wide open. He’d be wise to safeguard himself against such an opening facing an excellent counter puncher. If Thurman is able to control the rounds with his boxing against the flat-footed Garcia, he will open up many opportunities to land a game changing shot.
Why all the hate for Garcia? This dude just finds ways to win. He did have several close fights and the grossly mismatched Salka as points of contention apparently supporting your hate argument but many champions have had a similar journey, it’s just Garcia is vilified more.
This will be Garcia’s fourth fight at welter and just about the right time for the power to be settling in. Much has been made of the power with him facing a “true” welter but with over two years to grow into a division with a seven pound difference, lets put that nonsense to rest.
Garcia would be wise to utilize a bit more movement here. If he remains stationary, he’ll end up in the tangled web of Thurman and be susceptible to a huge shot. He is one of the best counter punching pugilists in the game and will have opportunities to do so against an adversary who has lapses on defense on the way in. Garcia has the better resume and has been in the deep end on more than one occasion but has come through. Garcia will be wise to draw on those experiences here. In addition, the whole world will be looking for the left. so there may be opportunities for a counter right here.
And The Winner Is………..
We may have seen something close to this matchup before. In reviewing video on styles, game plans, and past opponents, I found Lucas Matthysse to be eerily similar to Thurman. If you watch the tape of the Garcia v. Matthysse fight, you’ll see it.
In the fight against Garcia, Matthysse started strong, utilizing excellent movement, a great jab, and timely power shots. He backed Garcia up and was imposing his will. Garcia fought compact and cautious during the first few rounds and withstood the early aggression of “The Machine”.
You could slowly see Garcia studying Matthysse, looking for adjustments to the game plan. He would land a body shot at times and just enough power to keep Matthysse honest. Around the end of the third round and into the fourth, Garcia began to settle in. Garcia started to turn the fight in his favor, closing Matthysse’s eye in the process. He continued to attack the body and while he was not letting his hands go early nor using his left hook, he was all in now. In the eleventh, Matthysse touched the canvas for the first time in his career courtesy of a Garcia combination which culminated with a right hand.
This fight has all of the elements to go the same way here. Thurman will no doubt start strong against an opponent who is known to start slow. You will see Thurman landing significant blows similar to Matthysse but again Garcia will weather the storm. Thurman will build a lead but Garcia will begin to adjust his blueprint.
We may also see a flash knockdown early with Thurman not respecting Garcia’s power. This will play on the mind of Thurman who will then be tentative to engage. Garcia will began to take over as he did with Matthysse and weaken Thurman to the body setting up a possible KO. As stated above, while the left hook is the signiture punch, a big overhand right or right hand uppercut may turn the tide.
Another parallel to the Mattysse fight is the underdog role. Prior to the Matthysse fight, Garcia was a bit agitiated in the fact that Matthysse was not only favored to win but also expected to KO Garcia. Garcia again is the underdog and most observers feel that Thurman will be too much possibly stopping Garcia. There is no more dangerous an oponent than one who has a chip on their shoulder looking for respect with a “me against the world” mentality.
I love Thurman as much as the next guy but there is something amiss here in this matchup. From time to time, a fighter will come accross that one fighter who is not right for them. Garcia may be Thurmans’.
Garcia by stoppage.
” Cause all I do is win win win, and if you goin’ in put your hands in the air, make em stay there…Cause I never been defeated and I wont stop now”