BOXING

Keith Thurman Unifies With Decision Win Over Danny Garcia

Thurman Defeats Garcia, Now Has Two Welterweight Titles

Keith Thurman’s nickname of “One Time” is intended to reflect his power — as in he only needs to hit you with one shot. But it wasn’t his heavy hands that delivered him to victory this past Saturday night.

Instead, it was a good strategy and decent footwork that allowed Thurman to outbox Danny Garcia en route to a split decision victory, unifying two world titles in the process and ensuring that he remains in any conversation about the best welterweights in the world.

Thurman came out aggressively in the first round, putting pressure on Garcia early and testing how well Garcia — a capable counterpuncher — would respond. Thurman was able to land some hard shots, including a right hand that struck as Garcia was throwing a left hook. Garcia was spun around by the sequence and was forced to back away.

Highlights:

Soon Thurman was incorporating more footwork, circling around the ring at times, or mixing feints with in-and-out movement. He was disrupting Garcia’s timing. Garcia already was aware of Thurman’s power, and now he began to shut down for stretches because of Thurman’s style.

Garcia tried to adjust, worked to lead and land, and succeeded with lacing some counters in when Thurman attacked. The fight slowed, and several rounds appeared to be close.

“I was not giving the fight away,” Thurman said afterward. “I felt like we had a nice lead, we could cool down. I felt like we were controlling the three-minute intervals every round.  My defense was effective — he wasn’t landing.”

It wasn’t thrilling. It definitely wasn’t the second coming of Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns that the broadcasting team seemed so intent on selling this fight as. That was unfair to Thurman and Garcia, who aren’t all-time great talents.

What Thurman is, however, is good enough and smart enough to beat Garcia. He picked up the nod from two judges, who saw it 116-112 (eight rounds to four) and 115-113 (seven rounds to five). The third judge had Garcia ahead 115-113 (seven rounds to five). The judges didn’t agree on much — they were only unanimous on five of the 12 rounds. Even the judges who had Thurman ahead only agreed on the scoring of seven rounds.

Garcia disagreed with them, though he also took the defeat in stride.

“I came up short tonight,” Garcia said afterward  “I thought I was the aggressor.  I thought I pushed the pace.  But it didn’t go my way. … I thought I won and I was pushing the fight.  But it is what it is. I’ll come back strong like a true champion. I would love a rematch to get these titles.”

Thurman moved to 28-0 with 22 knockouts and now has the WBA and WBC world titles. He’s on a good run in his past two fights, picking up victories over Shawn Porter and Garcia. He owes a mandatory fight to Lamont Peterson, and Andre Berto and Porter will fight in April for a shot at Thurman. There also are other intriguing possibilities, particularly a bout with Errol Spence — if Spence is able to unseat IBF titleholder Kell Brook. (Win or lose, Brook is likely to move up in weight afterward.) The WBO world title belongs to Manny Pacquiao.

Garcia is now 33-1 with 19 KOs. His critics would point to at least two other fights that were close enough that they could’ve, and perhaps should’ve also ended in losses. Garcia otherwise had a good run dating back five years, from the time he won a world title at 140 through his unification win against Lucas Matthysse. He then gradually moved up to 147, winning a vacant title last year.

The welterweight division is deep. That means there are plenty of names vying for title shots and television spots. Garcia will likely find himself in with one of them sometime soon, a chance to get back to where he believes he belongs.

 

Lubin Drops Cota, Earns Junior Middleweight Title Shot

Erickson Lubin is just 21 years old, but he’s already in line to fight for a world title. The 154-pound prospect earned that title shot this past Saturday with a fourth-round technical knockout of Jorge Cota.

Lubin is still relatively unproven, but what he’s shown has given people plenty of reason to believe in his potential. That’s actually been the case since he was an amateur. He was convinced to turn pro as a teenager and made his debut shortly after his 18th birthday. He has been developing nicely ever since.

Cota was no world-beater, but he was a good measuring stick. He’d only lost once before, to Marco Antonio Rubio back in 2012. Cota had rattled off nine straight wins since.

He put forth a competitive effort for the first two and a half rounds, and then Lubin started to show the difference in class between them. In the fourth, Lubin squatted down and then came up with a big left hand. Cota dropped hard, beating the count but looking out of it enough that the referee waved the fight off.

“I put my hands down to bait him in,” Lubin said afterward. “I did a squat, and then it was night-night.”

Lubin is now 18-0 with 13 KOs. He’s also now in position to challenge the winner of an upcoming fight between 154-pound titleholder Jermell Charlo and mandatory challenger Charles Hatley. Charlo won the vacant title last May with a come-from-behind knockout of John Jackson. Hatley earned his shot with a technical knockout over faded fighter Anthony Mundine last November.

Lubin will have to wait a little longer than expected to find out which man he’ll face. Charlo-Hatley was originally supposed to take place later this week on the undercard of a fight between featherweight titleholder Gary Russell Jr. and Oscar Escandon. Instead, the entire show was postponed after Escandon suffered an injury in training camp.

Cota is now 25-2 with 22 KOs.

 

Fonfara Sends Dawson Packing With Come-From-Behind TKO

Pretty much every fighter wants to win, but getting the victory was particularly crucial for light heavyweights Andrzej Fonfara and Chad Dawson. After all, Fonfara was coming off a loss in which he’d been stopped in just one round. Dawson, meanwhile, hadn’t beaten a truly notable opponent in five years — and had gone just 3-3 since then.

With his career on the line, Dawson showed up looking great physically and boxed well enough to take a lead on the scorecards. With the fight slipping away, Fonfara dug down and battled back, scoring a 10th-round technical knockout that saved his own future while putting Dawson’s in question.

Fonfara dropped Dawson in the ninth round and hurt him in the 10th. He then followed up with a barrage that brought the referee jumping in.

Fonfara is now 29-4 with 17 KOs. Afterward, he spoke of wanting rematches with Adonis Stevenson or Joe Smith Jr. Stevenson, the lineal light heavyweight champion (the man who beat the man, and so on), beat Fonfara by unanimous decision back in 2014 but had to go through some tough stretches to get the win. Smith, meanwhile, was the one who obliterated Fonfara in 152 seconds last year.

Dawson is now 34-5 with 19 KOs. The last time the former light heavyweight champion beat a big name was in April 2012, when he outpointed Bernard Hopkins. Since then, he’s lost to Andre Ward, Adonis Stevenson, a journeyman named Tommy Karpency, and now Fonfara as well, with his only triumphs coming against the likes of George Blades, Dion Savage and Cornelius White.

Dawson said afterward that he felt the referee stopped the Fonfara fight too soon. While he could use that as an excuse to keep on fighting, he said that he was thinking of hanging up his gloves.

“I’ve had a good career,” Dawson said. “I have nothing to be ashamed of.”

 

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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