|Photo Credit: Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment|
Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) unified the welterweight division with a split-decision victory over Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) on Saturday, defending his WBA belt and picking up Garcia's WBC crown in primetime on CBS from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The close bout was scored 116-112 Thurman, 115-113 Thurman, and 115-113 Garcia. Showtime analyst and unofficial scorer Steve Farhood scored the fight 116-112 for Thurman. TheDailySportsHerald.com also had Thurman winning by decision.
It was only the third time in which undefeated fighters unified the 147-pound division.
"I thought I out-boxed him." said Thurman. "I thought it was a clear victory, but Danny came to fight. I knew when it was split and I had that wide spread, I knew it had to go to me."
Thurman came out swinging early and even stunned Garcia in the first round with a power shot, as he was the busier and more accurate fighter in nine of the 12 rounds.
Thurman then grew more tactical in the second half of the fight, utilizing lateral movement, taking less risk, and working off his jab. His punch volume steadily dropped, as he looked to potshot and box in the later rounds. Meanwhile, Garcia picked up the pace and was more active in the final rounds, but it was too little too late for the previously undefeated Philadelphia native.
"I was not giving the fight away," said Thurman. "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."
A former unified champion at 140-pound, Garcia was aiming to be the first fighter in history to unify titles at 140 and 147 pounds.
"I came up short tonight," said Garcia, who entered the bout with a 7-0 record in world title bouts. "I thought I was the aggressor. I thought I pushed the pace. But it didn't go my way. I thought I won and I was pushing the fight. I would love a rematch to get these titles."
The event marked the highest-attended boxing event in Barclays Center history with 16,533 fans witnessing just the 10th unification in division history.
The fight also drew solid ratings, as CBS was the No. 1 network in prime time on Saturday night, according to Nielsen overnight ratings. The broadcast earned a 2.2 rating from 9 p.m. – 11:15 p.m. ET, up 22% over the previous June 25, 2016, CBS bout featuring Keith Thurman versus Shawn Porter (1.8 rating).
Undercard Bouts: Lubin scores spectacular knockout
Undefeated super welterweight Erickson Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs) knocked out Jorge Cota (23-2, 20 KOs) in a WBC 154-pound title eliminator, dropping the previously once-beaten Cota with a sensational left hand lead to the chin at 1:25 (TKO) of the fourth round.
Lubin now becomes the No. 2 challenger to WBC Welterweight World Championship Jermell Charlo, who is due a mandatory bout against No. 1 contender Charles Hatley.
The Orlando-native Lubin landed 47 percent of his power shots across four rounds of shutout boxing.
"I baited him with the jab," Lubin said. "I knew he was going to come with the big shots early. I put a few tricks on him, I landed that overhand and it was night-night. I put my hands down to bait him in, I did a squat and then it was night-night. I was ready to follow-up with a right but he was already out."
At just 21-years-old, Lubin now has an opportunity to become the youngest world champion in boxing today.
In other undercard bouts, light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fanfara stopped veteran Chad Dawson in Round 10 of their ten round bout.
Mario Barrios (18-0, 10 KOs) also remained undefeated with a stellar performance, defeating his opponent, Yardley Suarez (20-7, 11 KOs), by sixth round TKO.
With new trainer Virgil Hunter in his corner, Barrios was able to execute his game plan to perfection from the opening bell. After landing plenty of head shots early, Barrios went to the body and ended the fight with a barrage of punches, forcing the referee to stop the bout in the sixth round.
With the victory, Barrios is now 2-0 at super-lightweight.
"I felt really strong going into this fight and it showed tonight as I was able to get the stoppage," said Mario Barrios. "I was having success early in the fight, landing a lot of solid head-shots. Then I started going to the body and got him out of there."
Showtime announces new bouts: Spence-Brook and Berto-Porter
Showtime announced that the upcoming IBF Welterweight World Championship between defending champion Kell Brook and undefeated contender Errol Spence Jr. will air live on the network this spring.
Showtime also announced the WBC Welterweight Eliminator between former 147-pound champions Andre Berto and Shawn Porter will take place Saturday, April 22, from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The winner of Berto-Porter becomes the mandatory challenger to Keith Thurman.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services