By Alex Beard (@alex_beard17)
In many ways it was a shame that somebody had to lose at the Barclays Center on Saturday night and although the fight didn’t quite live up to expectations, the right man was declared victorious. Keith Thurman claimed a split decision victory over Danny Garcia in their welterweight unification contest, winning by scores of 116-112, 115-113 & a bizarre tally of 115-113 in favour of Garcia.
Thurman started the fight explosively, making Garcia miss and landing painful combinations, even rocking the Philadelphian in the opening stanza. ‘One Time’s’ movement was a problem for Garcia throughout the bout, while he was clearly landing the harder shots.
As the fight concluded Thurman took his foot off the gas, correctly believing that he had the contest won. Garcia was able to dictate the action for the last few rounds with Thurman content to retreat and only wade in briefly when he felt it was safe.
But what’s next for the man known as ‘Swift’? His stock doesn’t appear to have fallen significantly despite his first professional loss, and there remain a plethora of intriguing options for him. Let’s take a look…
The loser of Brook vs. Spence
Much like Garcia, the loser of the upcoming IBF welterweight title bout between Sheffield’s Kell Brook and American sensation Errol Spence Jr. won’t suddenly become a bad fighter. There will still be interesting options available to them and one of them would be Garcia himself.
Both fighters would be looking to get back on the horse following title losses, while a victory for Garcia over Brook/Spence would instantly put him back in championship contention – and vice versa. There’s something of an unofficial welterweight tournament about these pair of title fights and therefore it makes sense for the two losers to meet in a ‘3rd-place’ bout.
Garcia vs. either man would be an excellent contest. He has previous with British opponents having stopped Amir Khan in devastating fashion in 2012, and if Spence loses, Garcia may view him as a beatable opponent who would propel him back towards big-time fights. It makes sense, so why not?
Speaking of Bolton’s finest, Khan’s mega-money contest with Manny Pacquiao appears to be no more, leaving him looking for an opponent once again. There has been talk previously about a rematch between these two former 140lb. champions, with Khan looking good in the early stages of their first fight before getting caught with a big shot.
Garcia would surely be confident going into another fight with Khan, having demonstrated his power with that stunning knockout in Vegas. That win was his breakout performance and he may choose to go back to the well after suffering his first defeat. Khan is always on the lookout for a big payday and Garcia-Thurman did big numbers on CBS, but would he view the rematch as too risky?
Garcia is an excellent counter-puncher and we know Khan loves to fight on the front foot in order to maximise his sensational hand-speed. It was a terrific fight while it lasted the first time, so why not do it again with both men coming off losses.
One thing that was evident on Saturday night was the slight size difference between Garcia, a man who has come up the weightclasses and Thurman, a lifelong welterweight. To that end, a four-weight world champion could well be the logical next step for the Philadelphia fighter.
Perhaps, then, a fight with Adrien Broner? ‘The Problem’ was ringside at the Barclays Center and is coming off a successful return to the 147lb. division, having beaten Adrian Granados via split decision last month. Without doubt this would be a winnable fight for Garcia, while providing yet another chance for Broner to prove himself an elite-level fighter.
Broner, for whatever else he is, appears to be a draw. His fights generate big viewing numbers, and the personality clash between he and Garcia’s father Angel would be something to behold. Garcia would enter the fight as the favourite and a win would provide some serious name value at the very least. It’s an option worth considering.
Nobody’s screaming robbery – apart from Angel Garcia, of course – but it was still a close fight. Garcia was always in the contest and landed his fair share of good shots. He showed his chin can stand up to ‘One-Time’s’ best punches and, even if he was allowed to do so, he dominated the latter stage of the fight.
Thurman may take a look around and decide that a rematch is the best option for him right now. The logical step would be for him to face the winner of Brook vs. Spence, but if for some reason that unification fight doesn’t materialise then Garcia may remain his best available opponent.
The result was close enough for fans to be interested in a rematch, and Garcia is still one of the top welterweights in the world despite the loss. For Thurman, the contest would provide him with the chance to secure a more definitive victory, while Garcia would be targeting revenge. We saw a reversal of fortunes in Leo Santa Cruz’s rematch with Carl Frampton. Who’s to say that wouldn’t happen in Thurman vs. Garcia II?by