BROOKLYN, NY (CBS) — There is a difference between fighters that use every ounce of talent that they have to succeed, like Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia, compared to the fighters that possess overwhelming talent that can turn it on and off at will, like Keith “One Time” Thurman.
There was nothing within Garcia’s arsenal that posed any threat to the WBA welterweight champion, and Thurman knew it. It’s why the undefeated fighter from Clearwater, Florida, went after Garcia with the ferocity he did before 16,533 on Saturday night at Barclays Center, the largest crowd ever to see a fight there.
What they witnessed was a tornado at the outset in Thurman, who gradually dissipated in the end, making the fight much closer than it should have been, leaving Garcia with the first loss of his career, a split-decision defeat when judges John McKaie (116-112) and Joseph Pasquale (115-113) ruled for Thurman, and judge Kevin Morgan (115-113) had it for Garcia.
Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) is now owner of the WBC and WBA welterweight titles, while Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) picks up the pieces of his first loss. There was no rematch clause in the Thurman-Garcia contract.
“The judges are the judges. I thought out-boxed him. I thought it was a clear victory, but Danny came to fight,” Thurman said. “I knew when it was split and I had that widespread, I knew it had to go to me. I was not giving the fight away. 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.”
Garcia, of course, thought he did enough to win.
“I came up short tonight. I thought I was the aggressor. I thought I pushed the pace. But it didn’t go my way,” Garcia said. “I thought I won and I was pushing the fight. But it is what it is. He was trying to counter. I had to wait to find my spots.”
In the first round, Garcia looked in serious trouble. Thurman dominated the first three minutes. One Time had Garcia reeling backwards the entire round, even buckling him a few times. Garcia, to his credit, weathered the early storm, but the question loomed how much more punishment could he take?
In the second, Garcia steadied himself, but again hardly did anything to make Thurman fearful. One Time was winging shots that Garcia had problems avoiding. Thurman won the third round, though not as definitively as he did the first two rounds.
After four, Garcia still had no answer for Thurman, who went being the attacker, to the one circling Garcia. Through four, Thurman appeared to be thoroughly in command. Garcia, now feeling a little more confident, did land a decent attack in the fifth, striking Thurman a few times as he closed near. It was debatable whether or not Garcia won the round, but it’s the closest Garcia came to looking competitive.
In the sixth, Garcia again began to gradually peck away, as Thurman appeared to take the round off. Neither fighter did anything substantial, but Garcia connected with the better quality punches, giving him the round and tightening the fight through the midway point, 4-2, in favor of Thurman.
Thurman came back in the seventh, again wading in to land big shots, and dancing away before Garcia could counter with anything. One thing continuously bore through, Garcia has a hell of a chin, and an ability to absorb a great amount of punishment, because that’s what Thurman was meting out.
After Garcia climbed back midway through to make it 4-2, Thurman refound his opening strategy and that was to attack. It’s why it appeared Thurman was in control after the ninth, 7-2.
Sensing things were growing desperate, Garcia summoned up the energy to win the 10th. But Thurman was still well in control, 7-3.
By the 11th, Thurman had to realize he was ahead. He was far more cautious and less engaging. Also, it seemed Garcia was getting frustrating. Garcia won the 11th, though by that time, he was way down with little recourse than to knock Thurman out.
Garcia came on too late. He won the 11th and 12th rounds against an opponent content on running. By playing it safe and comfortable, Thurman made what appeared a decisive decision grist for debate.