Thurman Made a Statement, but What Now for the Champ?
By Harry Hogg
Keith Thurman (28-0)claimed a split decision victory over Danny Garcia (33-1) in New York on Saturday night to unify the WBA (super) and WBC welterweight titles. The victoryin front a record crowd at the Barclays center consolidates Thurman’s position as the number one fighter in the 147lbs division.
Thurman’s display was well worth the victory, his incredible movement and eye catching punch power was there for all to see. In the end he was far too classy fora pretty ordinary Garcia, who seemed to lack any real ideas as to how to deal with Thurman.
Thurman’s performance was not without its flaws however. Seemingly cruising towards victory, Thurman faded late on giving Garcia the last few rounds. In the end this almost cost Thurman on the cards. He was in control for the majority of the fight and should have claimed the win unanimously. But his reluctance to engage late on and tendency to play safe almost backfired on the unbeaten American.
Never the less there is no denying he was the better fighter and deserved to be the first unifiedwelterweight champion since Floyd Mayweather in 2015. He was smart and picked his shots well, combined with some impressive footwork and movement, he was difficult to pin down for a largely inactive Garcia. The Philadelphiaman was resilient and kept coming forward, but very rarely troubledThurman.
What is next?
Thurman is now the number 1 fighter at 147, and is the man to beat. And while Garcia expressed his desire for a rematch, it is difficult to see this one happening again. The fight started well enough but never really kicked into gear, with Garcia leaving himself far too much to do in the later rounds.
But the American will surely be keeping a close eye on events in London in May, when Kell Brook defends his IBF belt against the dangerous Errol Spence Jr.The prospect of a second unification fight in a year would prove tempting for Thurman should he face the winner.
Or he could turn to the WBO champion in Filipino Legend Manny Pacquiao, whose April 23rd bout against Amir Khan is still without a venue.
Before any thoughts of another unification however, Lamont Peterson is likely to be announced as the next mandatory challenger for Thurman. Peterson, who picked up the WBA (regular) belt recently by beating David Avanesyan, would prove a tricky test for the new unified king.
The possibility of Thurman moving up to 154 would not be out of the question either. The champ looked bigger and stronger in comparison to Garcia on Saturday, and it would seem like he would have little trouble making the 154 limit. If he chooses to do so, a huge fight against Saúl Canelo Álvarez or Erislandy Laracould present itself.
Whatever Thurman decides do, he has put himself in a position of power and there are endless options open to him. He is the number one in the division and the route to welterweight supremacy will go through him.