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The most anticipated fight of 2017 is finally upon us as Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia step into the ring Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and battle in a welterweight title unification fight. It’ll be a test of Thurman’s power vs. Garcia’s boxing skill (although Garcia has shown power in the welterweight division, and Thurman also has plenty of boxing ability). More importantly, it’ll show, at least in the eyes of these two fighters, who is the best boxer at the 147-pound welterweight limit.
Both fighters are undefeated, and both have shown that they are two boxers in their prime who are already some of the best in the world.
The 28-year-old Garcia became a champion at 140 pounds with a 2012 defeat of Erik Morales, then defended the belt five times -- including a unification KO of Amir Khan -- before making a full-time rise to welterweight in 2014. He’s won five straight fights in the new weight class and picked up the WBC’s vacant 147-pound title with a unanimous decision win over Robert Guerrero.
Garcia’s penultimate title defense at 140 pounds, against Lucas Matthysse, was on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez undercard in Las Vegas, and he’s defeated seven reigning or former world champions in 13 overall fights since 2011.
Garcia is labeled third in the world at welterweight by the aforementioned independent world rankings -- trailing only Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley -- while Thurman is two slots behind at No. 5.
By contrast, Ring Magazine ranks Thurman as the world’s No. 2 welterweight behind reigning IBF champ Kell Brook, five spots ahead of Garcia at No. 7.
Leonard, who earned the very same WBA and WBC welterweight belts with a unification defeat of Thomas Hearns in 1981, perceives a razor-thin difference between the two fighters.
“I do favor Thurman because he just seems to be a little bit more poised and collected,” Leonard said. “He just seems to be that kind of guy. My gut that tells me that Keith is a little bit more solid than Danny. Both guys are great champs and both of them could take punches. So, I don’t know. Put it this way, I wouldn’t bet my house.”
Who will win between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia?
It’s a tough one to call. Both boxers can pack a punch, and Garcia has the experience to drag Thurman into the later rounds.
The announcement that the welterweight title fight between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia is headed to CBS on March 4 prompted a press conference, a news release and the requisite amount of tittering from those programmed to believe the information was truly transcendent.
That somehow, by unifying a couple of alphabet belts at 147 pounds, the momentum that’s carried boxing from front-page news to agate-page filler will be reversed, and we’ll all bear ringside witness to a brand-new incarnation of the sweet science’s long-lost glory days.
It would be a great fight.
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