One Time Is Enough
As temperatures dipped below 20 degrees in Brooklyn, organic electricity continued to build inside the Barclays Center. Anticipation for the 147-pound unification clash between Danny “Swift” Garcia and Keith “One Time” Thurman could be felt in the air minutes before the two champions would enter the ring. The WBC and WBA title belts were at stake, as were the undefeated records of the combatants, who are at the peak of their careers. This was the type of match-up fight fans salivate for, and to top it off, CBS would air the showdown on prime-time network television for the viewers at home. Much of the trash-talking leading up to the bout was delivered by Angel Garcia, Danny’s father and trainer. He even received a warning from the event’s promoter, Lou DiBella, for going overboard with foul, threatening, discriminatory language at the opening presser, but all that was forgotten. It was now–fight time!
While the boxers were being introduced, it became abundantly clear that Danny Garcia was the crowd favorite. The Philadelphia native appeared to be right at home in New York. Keith Thurman was booed, but judging by his facial expression, he was not intimidated in the least. As they touched gloves to signify the start was here, the fighter from Clearwater, Florida stared straight into his opponent’s face, but Garcia looked down, avoiding eye contact. Some would read deeper into the exchange than necessary, but from this writer’s vantage point, it was all part of gamesmanship.
The bell rang to end the posturing and begin the battle. Within seconds, Thurman displayed both quickness and aggressiveness. He landed a few impressive shots, which allowed Garcia to taste and gauge his power. Garcia, known for being a slow starter, took the blows well and remained composed. Round 1 was in the bag for Thurman, and it would set the tone for the entire bout.
As the fight progressed, Garcia struggled to mount a sustained attack. The fight became defense-oriented, which was not pleasing to the fans in attendance. A chorus of boos intermittently rained down during the middle rounds. But make no mistake–Garcia and Thurman were giving full effort. Unfortunately, when they were offense-minded, oftentimes they would swing wildly and hit nothing but air. Jabs and combinations were few and far between. Therefore, the bout came down to footwork, and this is where Keith Thurman had a decisive advantage. He was quicker and more mobile than Danny Garcia. Thurman was able to move in and out of range, and land just enough punches to comfortably win the fight on points. But this is boxing, the sport with no open scoring, so we would have to wait to hear the official word from the judges’ tallies. After several minutes, Jimmy Lennon, Jr. would reveal the verdict. Keith Thurman by split-decision. Rather than criticizing the one judge who favored Garcia, I appreciated the fact that the legitimate winner was awarded the victory and now became the WBC/WBA welterweight champion.
After the bout, both fighters were professional, humble, and respectful. In a bizarre way, it almost felt appropriate that the one disgruntled figure was, once again, Angel Garcia. He complained about the decision, complained about the sport, complained about Keith Thurman “running,” and threatened to have his son retire from boxing. That won’t happen just yet, but neither should a rematch. One Time was enough.