There are two young and undefeated boxing champions in the welterweight division who want unify the belts. This is rare in the sweet science as only three times before has this happened. Danny “Swift” Garcia, the WBC champion will face off against the WBA titleholder Keith “One Time” Thurman on March 4th at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
The bout presented by Premier Boxing Champions that will be televised live on CBS as part of Showtime Championship Boxing will provide another historical footnote. Not since the 1995 Terry Norris vs Paul Vaden fight has a boxing unification match taken place on network television.
“Establishing a unification of a weight class is my ultimate goal in the sport of boxing,” Thurman said, “That’s what we’re working for.”
Add to the mix that both men have been looking for just this kind of mega bout and you get two focused boxers who recognize that a win here puts them into the upper tier as attractions.
“I think about the eyes that are going to be on me and I have to go in there and look my best,” Garcia said Wednesday afternoon before the media at a workout in his hometown of Philadelphia. “These kind of fights really bring out the best in me.”
Thurman’s perspective is on the future as much as it is in the present. “I just want to keep moving myself up and establishing my legacy,” he said, “I want to distinguish myself from the other welterweights. The winner will get the spotlight over everyone else in the division.”
Styles made fights and his one has the making of the classic boxer versus slugger formula. But each man knows that to diversify their game somewhat may be the key to victory. Garcia, (33-0, 19 KO’s) learned this the hard way on his road to unifying the 140- pound championship starting as a one dimensional slugger. He evolved into an effective counter-puncher to win against other sluggers like Lamont Petersen and Lucus Matthysse.
It’s the slick boxers that have neutralized Garcia’s power and given him fits. Thurman is that kind of slick, but with a heavier punch. This has been the focus of his training which has a more specialized feel.
“We’re just working smart and hard. We’re sharpening and working on a great game plan,” Garcia said, “I have to stick to the game plan and adjust if I have to.”
Thurman, (27-0, 22 KO’s) knows that Garcia has a world-class chin and that he will have to use his boxing skill-set to set the narrative to his liking. But he is willing to do what’s necessary as well as he did against Shawn Porter where he gutted out the final third of that fight to pull out a decision?
“I see myself as the smarter fighter. I’ve shown that I can adjust in the middle of a fight,” Thurman said, “With the experience that I have, I go in there with an objective I’m trying to achieve.”
The ultimate winners should be the fans who will get to view this unification and compare it historically with pass welterweight unifications like Leonard-Hearns, Trinidad-De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao. Both realize this will be a career-defining match.
“Fans are going to see a great performance,” Thurman said, “They are going to see a well-conditioned, well-trained, Keith Thurman.”
Danny’s father and trainer Angel Garcia believes this fight is decided by the man with the ability to absorb world-class punches. “Danny has power just like Keith. We’re not scared of him. This is the hurt game,” Angel said,
“You know you’re going to get hit. We just don’t know if he can take a punch.”
There has been a lot of talk between the parties that will be posted for posterity as the victor will be proclaimed a prophet, the loser, the fool. “There’s been a lot of trash talk, but come March 4, that’s all over,” Garcia said, “We each need to do what we do best, and that’s win.”
They are both proficient at this as they have won 60 fights without blemish between them. “Ultimately, my heart desires victory at this stage and at this level,” Thurman responded, “I’m looking to do what I do best. Which is be a smart fighter, look for the openings, and if I can cause some damage, hopefully I can capitalize on that.”
Styles makes fights.