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March 2, 2017
The sports world is generally in the doldrums in the period between the Super Bowl and the March Madness tournament, with only mid-to-late-season NBA basketball and overseas soccer doing much to carry omnivorous sports fans between major events.
Boxing has a chance to take a big stage and fill the sports vacuum on Saturday, with a must-see welterweight title matchup between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia, airing for free on CBS under the Premier Boxing Champions banner.
Thurman holds the WBA world title, Garcia the WBC equivalent. Both men are undefeated, hard punchers and smart boxers. Thurman is Ring Magazine‘s second-ranked welterweight, with Garcia coming in at No. 7.
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn has hosted several great fights over the past year or so, including a thrilling contest between Thurman and Shawn Porter.
Everything is set up for this to be an entertaining spectacle. Here’s the viewing info for the contest.
Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia Fight Info
When: Saturday, March 4, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
TV: CBS (US), BoxNation (UK)
Live Stream: BoxNation (UK)
|Tale of the Tape|
|22 KOs, 79%||KOs||19 KOs, 58%|
|W, UD, vs. Shawn Porter in June 2016||Last Time Out||W, TKO, vs. Samuel Vargas in November 2016|
According to OddsShark, Thurman is a 4-9 favorite over Garcia (as of March 1). Thurman has a reputation for incredible power, has been in the welterweight ranks longer than his opponent and has constantly challenged himself, whether it’s fighting the cagey Leonard Bundu or the kinetic Porter.
Garcia’s last fight out was at welterweight against the underwhelming Samuel Vargas, making Thurman a huge leap in competition for him. Of course, Bad Left Hook’s Scott Christ pointed out Garcia is still not to be underestimated:
I feel, perhaps wrongly (?), that Garcia is being a little overlooked here. As if he’s a clear underdog. As if he doesn’t present some serious potential matchup issues for Thurman.
Garcia is one of the smartest top fighters out there. He knows his way around the ring, doesn’t get himself in big trouble often, and his struggles have come against fellow crafty fighters like Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson, guys who also don’t often look to do more than is presented to them.
Garcia’s an excellent counterpuncher, and his intelligence and movement keep him safe most of the time. While Christ also points out his competition at welterweight hasn’t been the most prestigious, Garcia has beaten quality opposition throughout his career, including Lucas Matthysse and Amir Khan.
He’s taken on the heavy hitters and the lightning-quick strikers and won. Thurman is no one-dimensional big swinger, but whatever style he brings to the fight, Garcia is confident he can handle him.
“I’m just a great all-around fighter. I’m tough mentally and I’m going to control the fight. He’s never been in a ring with a guy like me,” Garcia told CBS Sports’ Jason Keidel.
Thurman has had plenty of time to recharge and prepare for this fight, roughly nine months out from his brutal, spectacular duel with Porter. Garcia is a little under four months removed from his bout with Vargas, but that was far less taxing than what Thurman endured with Porter.
Thurman’s power could be a problem for Garcia, assuming he can catch Swift flush with one of his devastating hooks. One Time will have to wait for the right time to go at Garcia, lest he eat one of his opponent’s patented counter shots. This fight could start out a bit cagier than some expect, as both fighters try to suss out each other’s strategies.
Eventually, though, the two will have to really tangle, and Thurman believes his power, comfort and experience at the weight level will see him through, per Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole:
Danny is a very talented and accomplished fighter, but most of his accomplishments have come at 140 pounds, not welterweight. We have all those weight classes we have in boxing for a reason. They are there for a legitimate reason. I’ll be showing that on Saturday. Danny Garcia is not a legitimate welterweight and I’m going to show him what it’s like for a 140-pounder to get in there with a legitimate, full-fledged welterweight.
Garcia will have to be at his best to score an upset in this fight. If he can frustrate Thurman for a few rounds, set up traps and land some trademark hooks while keeping himself away from Thurman’s biggest punches, he will win this semi-unification belt.
Per Iole, this matchup is “only the third match between unbeaten welterweight champions and just the second between champs with perfect marks.” It’s a big night for settling the hierarchy in the welterweight ranks, and it could be a massive night for boxing as a whole.
The sport needs to get in-their-prime, exciting fighters out in front of the general public as much as possible if it is going to prosper.
Thurman-Garcia brings plenty of promise and will almost certainly deliver for the big boxing fans, and it could be a good enough scrap to bring along the casual ones and maybe even snag a few converts to the sweet science.