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Danny Garcia vs. Keith Thurman on March 4 on Showtime

Danny Garcia Keith Thurman

By Eric Baldwin: WBA welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) and WBC champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs) have an official date for their unification fight on March 4 on Showtime Boxing, as long as Garcia wins his tune-up fight against #6 WBA Samuel Vargas (25-2-1, 13 KOs) on November 12 at the Liacouras Center, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

That’s a winnable fight for Garcia, so his fight against Thurman is as good as gold. It’s definitely going to happen. The venue of the Garcia vs. Thurman fight could take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, according to Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza said that’s where the fight could wind up.

There was a thought of the Garcia-Thurman fight being on pay-per-view, but it’s been decided that it’ll be on normal Showtime, which is a relief; because neither of these fighters have shown the kind of ratings that would suggest that they could sell a fight on pay-per-view right now. That’s not to say that they won’t become PPV fighters in the future, but right now neither of them are. It would be a disaster if Showtime were to make the Garcia vs. Thurman fight a pay-per-view fight.

Thurman, 27, won’t be taking a tune-up fight before his match against Garcia in March, which might be a good thing for him. Thurman took a lot of punishment in his last fight against Shawn Porter last June at the Barclays Center. Thurman won the fight by a close 12 round unanimous decision, but it was far from easy for him.

The judges gave Thurman the decision by the scores 115-113, 115-113 and 115-113. There were a couple of rounds where Thurman got the better of Porter, and that was the main difference in the fight. By the time Thurman faces Garcia in March, he’ll have been out of the ring for nine months. That might help Thurman, because he’ll have recovered from his grueling fight against Porter.

Garcia isn’t expected to get much out of his fight Samuel Vargas other than a few rounds. It shouldn’t be a competitive fight, but you never know. Few boxing fans expected that the Garcia vs. Robert Guerrero fight would be competitive earlier this year, and it turned out to be quite a difficult match for Garcia. He won the fight, but it was from easy. With Garcia not having faced anyone really good since his win over Lucas Matthysse in 2013, it wasn’t surprising that Guerrero gave him some problems. Garcia isn’t fighting against top level opposition enough for him to stay sharp.

“He (Thurman) has a couple of nicks and bruises that he needed to heal up from after a really tough Porter fight in late June,” Espinoza said to about Thurman. “So he’s healing up. He has nothing of any long-term consequence, but he’s going straight to the Garcia fight in March.”

Thurman isn’t accustomed to taking punishment in his fights, because he’s been pretty well matched during his career by Premier Boxing Champion boss Al Haymon. Thurman is just now starting to fight good opposition at age 27. It’s not news to most fans that Thurman hasn’t been taking on the real killers in the 147 pound division. His fight against Shawn Porter was pretty much the first real test that Thurman had. He looked barely better than Porter, which isn’t a bad thing.

It just shows that there’s not much difference between the top fighters in the division. Before that, Thurman’s toughest fights came against Diego Chaves, Julio Diaz, Carlos Quintana, Jesus Soto Karass, and Luis Collazo, Errol Spence Jr. called out Thurman a year ago, but he showed the young 26-year-old former 2012 Olympian no interest whatsoever.

It’s impossible to know how Thurman would have done against the young Spence. You can make an argument that Thurman showed his limitations as a fighter in his narrow win over Porter. Thurman seems to be a good fighter, but not someone that is going to be able to make it past a fighter like Spence when/if that fight ever takes place.

Having the Garcia vs. Thurman fight staged in New York will help ensure a big crowd shows up for the fight. Thurman is from nearby Florida, while Garcia comes from Philadelphia. The crowd at the Barclays Center will likely be supporting Garcia more than Thurman. However, that doesn’t mean that Garcia will win. Thurman seems to be the more polished and stronger fighter than Garcia right now.

Unless Garcia packs on some weight for the fight, he’ll likely be outsized by Thurman, who rehydrates into the 160s for his fights. Thurman is only 5’7”, but like Miguel Cotto, he tends to put a lot of weight on when he rehydrates for his fights. However, Thurman doesn’t have the height of the 5’9” Spence Jr., and he doesn’t rehydrate into the 170s like he does.

Garcia had problems with the hand speed of Amir Khan in their fight in 2012. It wasn’t until Garcia timed Khan and hurt in the 3rd round that he was able to take control over the fight. if Garcia can time Thurman, he might be able to connect with one of his big let hooks to knock him out. However, Thurman has a very good left hook of his own. If Garcia is going to look for a big left hook to the end the fight, then he’s going to need to be on his guard for Thurman’s left hook.

The Garcia-Thurman fight could come down to the chins of the two fighters. The guy with the better chin will likely win. Thurman is going to be on the defensive like he usually is, but he’s going to need to go on offense a lot more in this fight than he did in his last fight against Porter. Garcia won’t attack and leave himself open for shots the way that Porter did, because that’s not the type of fighter he is. Garcia isn’t sloppy, and he won’t make it easy for Thurman. The winner of the Thurman-Garcia fight will need to take chances. This isn’t going to be one of those safety first type fights we’ve seen in the past.

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