On Saturday the 4th of March after the dust has settled in London following the Haye v Bellew grudge clash, all eyes will shift across the Atlantic to the Barclays Center in New York as two undefeated welterweights in Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia but their WBA and WBC belts on the line. The world’s oldest and most credible opinion Boxing News step into the ring with former two division world champion Ricky Hatton with their expert opinions and betting tips ahead of the much anticipated clash. Check out what the experts think and deliver the knock-out blow with Betsafe.
Haye v Bellew
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TOWARD the end of last year, US broadcast heavyweight Showtime announced an impressive spate of fights. Two of them were unification fights, the first of which ended up being a gruelling 12 round war between super-middleweights James DeGale and Badou Jack, who battled to a draw in January.
On March 4, the second unification fight of Showtime’s impressive schedule sees WBA welterweight boss Keith Thurman meet WBC king Danny Garcia at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (which is where DeGale-Jack was also held).
Thurman only fought once last year, though it was a terrific and close win over fellow division standout Shawn Porter which affirmed his standing as one of the best welters in the world.
Garcia, a former super-lightweight champion, moved to welterweight in 2015 before winning the vacant WBC title against Robert Guerrero in January of last year.
After Thurman defeated Porter, attention turned to a mouth-watering clash with Garcia, given both men’s links to influential advisor Al Haymon and his Premier Boxing Champions outfit.
Negotiations seemed a little slow at first, but looked positive once they picked up pace. Then, Garcia announced he would be fighting Samuel Vargas in a dreadful, dreadful match-up. However, the silver lining was that should he prevail (which was all but inevitable) Garcia would fight Thurman next.
Garcia stopped Vargas in seven rounds and he and Thurman – who was ringside – quickly became involved in a shouting match in the middle of the ring. However, it would be some time before their fight was officially announced.
The welterweight division has been in flux ever since Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao retired. So long were they the leaders in the 147lb weight class, they left a notable hole when they walked away.
The Filipino has, of course, returned but it remains to be seen just how far he will push himself on this comeback tour. Meanwhile, fights like Thurman-Garcia are a big step toward finding a new welterweight supremo, as is Kell Brook’s upcoming meeting with Errol Spence Jnr.
It is also encouraging to see two unbeaten world champions, who are entering their respective primes, willing to square off. While it is by no means a fight that will drag boxing firmly back into the limelight on its own, it is part of a terrific 2017 schedule which could be the catalyst for more huge fight nights.
Thurman-Garcia will be shown on CBS – of which Showtime is a subsidiary – in the US at prime time, adding further significance to the bout.
What they say
“I know Danny is confident coming into this fight. He’s trying to challenge me and hurt me. I have an ‘0’ and I’m not ready to let it go. If you think you can beat me, beat me. It’s going down on March 4.
“You can expect a world class fight. We’re both great champions with impressive skills. We’re going to be pushing each other and testing each other. I see myself as the smarter fighter. I’ve shown that I can adjust in the middle of a fight. With the experience that I have, I go in there with an objective I’m trying to achieve. If it’s not happening, then I have to use something else.
“Ultimately, my heart desires victory at this stage and at this level. I’m looking to do what I do best. Which is be a smart fighter, look for the openings and if I can cause some damage, hopefully I can capitalize on that.
At the end of the day, I prepare myself to be 100 percent ready for anything Thurman does. I’m a true champion because I’m able to adapt to anything he can bring.
“I’ve been in a lot of big fights, so I can’t psych myself out. On March 4 I’m going to show the world again why I’m a real champion.
“There’s no better feeling than unifying the title. I did it at 140 and now I have the chance to accomplish my goals at 147. It’s up to me to take advantage of it.
“There’s been a lot of trash talk, but come March 4, that’s all over. We each need to do what we do best, and that’s win.
“I think I have a lot of advantages. One of them is that Barclays Center is like a second home. I’m the sharper, more patient and more battle-tested fighter. I’ll prove it on March 4.
“Thurman’s fight against Porter was a good fighter but I’m a different fighter than Shawn Porter. I bring a whole different skill set.
The positive news for fight fans is that these two are both aggressive, heavy-handed operators. Thurman does have a tendency to rush in and this leaves him wide open, particularly to straight right hands over the top. However he has a solid chin and always ensures he lands a shot of his own whenever things become heated on the inside. He has a decent jab and his right hand carries potent power, as does his left look, although he telegraphs this particular shot at times.
Garcia is a little more defensively savvy as he darts in and out of range with a bit more speed, whereas Thurman is happier to linger in the pocket. Danny’s best weapon, besides a solid jab, is his left hook and he loves to look for it early, as Amir Khan found out in 2012.
It will be interesting to see how Garcia deals with a full-fledged top welterweight. Guerrero had also moved through the weights and Vargas is nowhere near the top level. Thurman is physically strong whereas Garcia likes to fire off from a comfortable range – if Keith can impose his size on Garcia, he will make it rough and tough for the Philadelphian. However, Garcia has struggled badly in the past against boxers with good movement. Thurman has decent footwork and he might try and frustrate Garcia and force mistakes.
Thurman has shown vulnerability to the body in the past and Garcia likes to vary his work, meaning he can throw some spiteful body shots.
Both men have shown they can take a shot well and that they can cope when fights get difficult. All in all, they are very well matched.
Both men have the power to stop the other – however, in an elite fight such as this they will both be switched on and are unlikely to offer up many chances of getting clipped enough for that to happen. There could be some cagey moments but there are also bound to be some thrilling exchanges. However, the pick is for Thurman to produce the cleaner but heavier work and take this one on points.
About George Gigney
George Gigney is the reporter of Boxing News, the oldest boxing publication in the world. Established in 1909, Boxing News’ reputation as the market authority comes from over 100 years of experience in the hardest game.