Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Nate LoopFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2017

In only the third title-unification bout between undefeated welterweights in boxing history, Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) earned a split-decision victory over Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs), unifying the division’s WBA and WBC world titles.

Fighting on prime-time network television and in front of a Barclays Center boxing-record crowd of 16,533, per’s Dan Rafael, Thurman showed power early on, used his jab effectively and controlled the ring and tempo. 

Bad Left Hook had the judges’ scores:

Garcia didn’t seem to have much of an argument for swaying a judge, but Thurman let the final rounds get away from him, moving on his back foot, dancing around and generally looking like he thought he had the bout wrapped up. 

The Vertical’s Chris Mannix assessed Thurman’s performance: 

Sho Stats provided the final punch numbers, showing Garcia was more accurate but didn’t land as many as his opponent in total: 

Garcia didn’t appear too worked up over the decision, but he did think he was the more aggressive fighter, per BoxNation: 

The action by no means comprised a classic, but it was still a high-stakes affair with some fine displays of pugilistic prowess.

Thurman wasted no time in starting this match, launching wild power shots with little in the way of setup for the first couple of rounds. A solid right-handed connection toward the end of the first frame seemingly stunned Garcia and put a charge into the atmosphere.

Showtime Boxing summed it up:

It appeared Thurman was banking on his power to see him through this bout. He had told Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole prior to the bout that Garcia “is not a legitimate welterweight,” and indeed Garcia had done his best work and faced his toughest opposition at or below 140 pounds. 

Garcia took Thurman’s power leads as best he could, and his excellent timing and technique allowed him to land a few of his patented counter hooks, the sharpest of them thudding into Thurman’s midsection. 

Bad Left Hook felt Garcia’s highlights were sporadic early on: 

Thurman eventually settled in behind a probing jab, which slowed the pace but didn’t give Garcia much of an opportunity to swing things in his favor, at least at first. Thurman’s early show of power gave Garcia plenty to think about, and if it wasn’t for Swift’s iron chin, it might have turned into a rout for Thurman.

Garcia started to get his timing and movement down in the sixth, landing some sharp counters and expertly dancing out of the way of Thurman’s wide swings. After seven rounds, boxer Sergio Mora weighed in on the tactical battle: 

The Brooklyn crowd didn’t necessarily see the beauty that Mora was enjoying, letting loose a cascade of boos as the action slowed in the eighth and ninth rounds. Thurman’s early fervor had long dissipated as he allocated more time to moving around the ring and jabbing, and Garcia couldn’t find an opportunity to let his hands go. 

Saturday Night Boxing’s Adam Abramowitz saw the fight getting away from Garcia: 

Showtime showcased some of the better exchanges from the late rounds: 

As the fight came to a close, Thurman opted to coast, confident in the work he had done earlier in the bout. Garcia took what opportunities he could, landing some solid shots in the 11th and stringing together a few flurries in the final frame. 

It was a fine late effort considering the powerful shots he had taken at the beginning of the fight, but Garcia didn’t do enough to throw Thurman off his game. His counterpunching was brilliant at times, but he lacked consistency and spent too much of the bout on the back foot. 

Thurman showed strong versatility in this bout, further expanding his reputation to more than just a thumper. He has built a good case for himself as the top welterweight working today.

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