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Keith Thurman, Tony Bellew have their days: Weekend Review

05
Mar

BIGGEST WINNER

Keith Thurman: Thurman earned his rewards on Saturday night in Brooklyn, where he defeated Danny Garcia by a split decision to unify two sanctioning-body welterweight titles. I thought he won eight of the 12 rounds, using quick lateral movement to avoid taking punches and delivering just enough of his own to win rounds.

In short, he outboxed Garcia and can now argue that he’s the best 147-pound in the world.

That said, something was missing. And Sugar Ray Leonard made reference to the void during the TV broadcast, saying late in the fight that it was time for someone to “close the show.” Thurman took enough chances to win on two cards but not enough to finish off Garcia — not even close. In fact, he cruised in the late rounds and was fortunate he didn’t squander his lead, a la Oscar De la Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad.

Thurman (28-0, 22 knockouts) was clearly satisfied to leave the ring with the victory, two belts and the prospect of another big-money fight on the horizon, which, of course, is understandable.

I doubt the fans were as satisfied, though. The crowd at Barclays Center booed Thurman several times for what they would describe as running, a sentiment that can be attributed both to a pro-Garcia majority among fans and the fact they were getting bored. I suspect many of those watching on TV felt the same way about Thurman’s action-killing tactics even if they appreciated a good performance.

I thought of the final rounds of Wladimir Klitschko’s victory over Eddie Chambers, when Emanuel Steward, Klitschko’s trainer, demanding that his fighter “finish the job.” Steward understood that boxing isn’t always just about having your hand raised.

Thurman is Thurman, an excellent boxer with an engaging personality. He’s marketable. I’m just not sure whether that’s enough to make him a true star.

BIGGEST WINNER II

Tony Bellew: The magnitude of Bellew’s upset victory over David Haye on Saturday in London depends on how you look at it.

The record will show that a massive underdog stopped one of this era’s top talents by an 11th-round knockout, making Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KOs) what he called “champion of all the misfits.” Hail to the misfits! Bellew afterward also called himself the most valuable heavyweight outside the titleholders. He might be right.

Make no mistake: The Liverpudlian had an enormous night. The only mitigating factor is that Haye obviously was damaged goods.

The former two-division titleholder evidently had problems with his Achilles tendon before the fight, as he reportedly sought treatment during the week. Then, after aggravating it in the fifth round, he became a one-legged fighter. And that was too much for him to overcome against a quality opponent.

That isn’t meant to minimize Bellew’s accomplishment, as injuries are a part of boxing. And he held his own before the fifth round. The fact that Haye’s body broke down will just always be part of this story.

Where does the victory leave Bellew? He could fight Haye again, assuming Haye can recover. A second fight would be well received. And in a pathetically thin division, he is in position to challenge a titleholder for what would be his biggest payday.

I hate to think what might happen to the natural cruiserweight should he tangle with Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder. Of course, I hated to think what was going to happen to him against Haye.

 

BIGGEST LOSER

David Haye: “Hayemaker” might be finished.

He reportedly has had surgery to repair his damaged Achilles tendon, which presumably would keep him sidelined for another extended period. That, combined with his age (36) and general wear and tear, could be too much for him to overcome.

If it’s over, we should remember how good he was. He was a terror at 200 pounds, at which he was unified titleholder. Quick, powerful, dynamic, fun to watch – he had it all. He was 21-1 (with 20 knockouts) before he was a full-fledged heavyweight, his only slip-up being a TKO loss to Carl Thompson in 2004.

And he was a good heavyweight even though he was undersized, going 7-2 and winning a sanctioning-body title. He lost only to the gigantic Wladimir Klitschko at heavyweight before Bellew.

He also went out in admirable fashion, fighting as best he could on one leg until he simply could not go on. He also demonstrated class by giving Bellew full credit in spite of his injury, although he really had no choice after the ridicule he endured for blaming his loss to Klitschko on his toe.

I hope Haye (28-3, 26 KOs) makes it back, if that’s what he wants. I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch with Bellew. If it’s the end, he should be celebrated as one of the best big boxers in recent years.

 

BIGGEST LOSER II

Danny Garcia: More than one observer crowed after the fight that Thurman exposed Garcia for the limited fighter he has been all along. Yeah right.

Garcia was 33-0 (19 KOs) going into the fight. He won the RING championship at 140 pounds and major sanctioning-body titles in two divisions. He has victories over Erik Morales, Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse  and Lamont Peterson. He was doing something right.

Garcia isn’t a great athlete, one who can use quick hands and feet to win fights. He’s a counterpuncher with good power who is adept at taking advantage of opportunities when they arise.

He didn’t get many of those against Thurman, a tremendous athlete who proved – barely – to be too elusive for him. I wanted Garcia to pick up his work rate and cut off the ring earlier in the fight but I understand that’s not easy when your opponent is a blur.

And as it was, had judge Joseph Pasquale given Garcia just one more round, the fight would’ve ended in a draw.

Garcia will be fine. He’s only 28. And he almost certainly is steaming right now, angry at himself that he didn’t push a little harder and frustrated that he lost for the first time in his professional career. He’ll be motivated like never before in his next fight.

I still think of him as a guy who finds ways to win fights, which shouldn’t be underestimated. He almost did so against Thurman but fell just short. I doubt that will happen too many times going forward.

 

RABBIT PUNCHES

Erickson Lubin (18-0, 13 KOs) looked scary against Jorge Cota (25-2, 22 KOs) on the Thurman-Garcia card, stopping the Mexican with a looping left in the fourth round. Lubin’s first real test could come in his next fight, though: He is now the mandatory challenger to WBC junior middleweight titleholder Jermell Charlo. I think Lubin, who is only 21, has all the tools to compete against the best 154-pounder but he still must prove that. Charlo vs. Lubin would be fascinating. … A number of other fighters might’ve thrown their final punches on Saturday. Paulie Malignaggi (36-8, 7 KOs) was ahead on two cards when Sam Eggington (20-3, 12 KOs) stopped him with a body shot in Round 8 on the Bellew-Haye card. Malignaggi indicated afterward that he is leaning toward retirement. I hesitate to suggest that any fighter should retire if he wants to keep fighting. I’m comfortable saying that not many fighters have as much going for them outside the ring as Malignaggi, who is one of the most respected voices in the sport. I look forward to many more years with him behind the microphone. … It wasn’t long ago that Chad Dawson (34-5, 19 KOs) was one of the top fighters in the world, with victories over Tomasz Adamek, Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins. Then he decided to drop down to 168 pounds to fight Andre Ward. He’s 3-4 since, including a knockout loss to Andrzej Fonfara (29-4, 17 KOs) in the 10th and final round on the Thurman-Garcia card. Dawson might be a victim of inactivity; he has fought only three times since 2014. More likely, he no longer has what it takes to be an elite fighter. I wouldn’t count him out, though. He’s only 34. Fonfara bounced back nicely from his stunning knockout loss to Joe Smith Jr. … And, finally, Derry Matthews (38-12-2, 20 KOs) announced his retirement after rising junior welterweight contender Ohara Davies (15-0, 12 KOs) stopped him in three rounds on the Bellew-Haye card. Matthews was a very good lightweight at his peak.

 

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  • Stephen M

    I don’t think it is appropriate to put a win over Erik Morales as proof that Garcia is pretty good. Morales was totally shot and way beyond his best weight class when he fought Garcia. Meaningless.

    • maxx

      Yet still gave him an excellent fight in their first bout.Kudos Stephen.

      • Stephen M

        You have a better memory than me. I just remember Morales looking bad at anything over 135. Kudos to you!

        • maxx

          He was certainly not looking like the Erik of old, yet he had the chin, the jab and the ringcraft to certainly compete with the likes of Maidana and Garcia, I actually had Morales beating Maidana and running Garcia very close.Kudos Stephen

          • Stephen M

            You have an incredible boxing memory! I hope you don’t forget your wife’s birthday…

          • maxx

            My girlfriend would make mincemeat out of me LOL.Kudos Stephen

          • Stephen M

            You have an incredible boxing memory! I hope you don’t forget your wife’s birthday…

    • Giuseppe

      He also was beating the shit out of garcia for a little while until his tank emptied.

    • left hook

      Erik was the WBC champion when he fought Garcia, how is that meaningless.

      • Stephen M

        Didn’t Canelo have one of those at middleweight?

        • left hook

          So? Erik was a champion when when Garcia beat him. U guys gave credit to Kovalev and Smith for beating an extremely old Hopkins but discredit Garcia for beating Erik, who wasn’t as old as Hopkins.

          • Stephen M

            I’m “you guys” now? Ha, ha. The wins over Hopkins have to have an asterisk beside them that says “old man Hopkins”.
            And, you may well have a point, my memory of the Morales fights aren’t very clear (certainly not like Maxx!). I just remember Morales losing 4 fights in a row ( 2 by ko), retiring and then coming back 3 years later, chubby and in a weight class where he didn’t belong. In retrospect, maybe his losing efforts against Maidana and Garcia weren’t that bad.

          • left hook

            OK maybe not u but u do know Kovalev and Smith was given credit for beating Hopkins. If credit can be given to them, then credit should be given to Garcia for beating an old man too.

    • left hook

      Erik was the WBC champion when he fought Garcia, how is that meaningless.

  • Paul Kelly

    Keith Thurman the top 147-pounder in the world? Please. Pacquiao would beat him. Kell Brook would beat him. He’s No. 3, at best. I would give Tim Bradley a good shot against Thurman because Bradley would be aggressive and cut off the ring, unlike Garcia last night.

    • Regie Tayaben

      “And as it was, had judge Joseph Pasquale given Garcia just one more round, the fight would’ve ended in a draw.”
      Clearly, Garcia fighting in his hometown would beat Thurman too.

    • RodPolisher

      Agree with Thurman being number 3. Would love to see him fight Kell Brook and try and unify the WBC and WBA with the IBF. The only defeat on Kell’s record came against GGG at Middleweight. Kell has never lost at 147 and he is a big welterweight. Would be a close fight but could see Kell edge it.

      • ceylon mooney

        shit, he was bigger and heavier than the MW he fought

      • kiowhatta

        Brook v Thurman could potentially be great. Lesson learnt again for me is that unification bouts between undefeated ‘stars’, does not automatically equal FOTY candidacy.
        I think Brooks style might be a little more suited to inspiring some fireworks..that being said, Brook is also a mover, so it could end up being a fight with both men circling one another.. At least when Brook throws punches, he looks to throw them with intent.

        • Fist_ti_cuffs

          Brook didn’t throw to many punches versus Porter. I’d pick Thurman to easily outbox him should they meet, which is unlikely as Brook has Spence next.

          • TNT

            Thurman outbox Brook? Get real. Brook would put hands on Thurm in a competitive but clear Brook win.

          • Fist_ti_cuffs

            That’s your opinion. All he needs to do is beat Spence and he’ll get his shot. But for now Thurman is at the top of the division as an undefeated/unified champ. -_-

          • TNT

            Thurman outbox Brook? Get real. Brook would put hands on Thurm in a competitive but clear Brook win.

    • Mark Schoeman

      Kell Brook is better? Let me guess, another Englishman…

      • Chris Stans

        Kell went from having people make fun of his resume to being the best at 147 in one night

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    • ceylon mooney

      pacqiao and bradley are a significant jump up above thurman, porter, garcia and the rest of 147

    • polk14

      I have to say he is right there with the best, I would like to see him try his luck with either three. All would make interesting fights.

    • Giuseppe

      Me too. I’d take the effective aggression of all those guys against an increasingly passive thurman.

    • left hook

      How is Kell better, explain?
      Thurman is the best WW. He beat an undefeated champions and he is the unified champion. He beats pacquiao but it won’t be easy.

    • Fist_ti_cuffs

      Thurman has unified the division and beat an undefeated champ in the process. He is now the best WW on the planet……………………..at least until someone beats him. #FACTS

    • TNT

      Pacquiao couldn’t even beat his meat without Buboy helping him. So forget about Thurman. And Tim Pillow fist Bradley hasn’t been the same fighter in a long time.

  • Paul Kelly

    I hope Paulie retires. Being forced to endure the pain of listening to commentary from Ray Leonard — a master of the obvious behind the mike — reminded me of how much I enjoy Paulie’s insight and the team of Mauro Ranallo, Al Bernstein and Paulie.

    • Rick

      Mauro sucks balls!

      • inevitable mangina

        He is severely overrated.

  • John Rodriguez

    Zab was past his prime too and the Peterson fight could’ve gone either way. Yes Garcia could’ve of pressed more but I think Thurman could’ve too. The last 3 rounds with Porter were tougher and he almost got stopped in the 12th. If both would’ve stepped it up I think Thurman would’ve won those rounds.

  • polk14

    If it wouldn’t have been Hayes Achilles tendon it would have been his pinky toe. I will never forget how stupid he sounded against Else, talking about his pinky toe.

  • Good win for Thurman. Danny G will be back. They both walk thru this version of Pac Man. And just so that I can get some clarity: Bellew beat Haye, rt? Not a belt holder but an inactive ex champion!?!?!

    • Giuseppe

      Disagree. I think the pacquaio who beat vargas our points them both. Still quicker and more aggressive than both. Plus pac can jab. Not a legendary jabber but he knows how to set up his shots at an elite level. These guys don’t.

      • We agree to disagree Big Sep Dogg!

        • Giuseppe

          Would be good if they solved it for us…eh? And why not? Thurman offers more upside for pacquaio than Crawford. Brcomes unified ww champ at 38!. A lot less risk for arum too as he can keep Crawford clean and on his own path. If pac berths Khan that is… which I believe he will.

          • The Senator won’t ever share the ring with One Time. And I don’t wanna see him in with Crawford either. Maybe AB…..or Loma! Just leave the bigger killas alone from here on out.

          • Giuseppe

            I’d take pac over thurman. I think he loses to Crawford but it’d be a good fight. Exciting. And he’d have his moments.

  • kiowhatta

    Garcia just didn’t look like he was committed and focused, he looked languid and pensive, he didn’t appear to be able to really pressure Thurman as much as he needed to, and looked like he was in cruise mode, where as Thurman looked and acted with intensity, determination and commitment.
    I understand it’s difficult to hit a moving target, but a fight at this level should inspire a fighter to leave nothing in the ring…call me an idealist, and who knows what was going through Garcia’s mind?

    • Junius Smith

      The END of the 1st round was going through Danny’s mind….Thurman tests all of his opponents….

    • Giuseppe

      Agree. And it annoyed me that every time the 10 seconds left clack clack sounded they would start throwing wildly at each other. What about the other 2 mins 50???

    • Ten Count Toronto

      It’s certainly possible to make the fight more compelling, dramatic and legitimately competitive. Shawn Porter did it against the very same fighter, risked looking bad at times, even took a flash knockdown but wasn’t discouraged and had plenty of moments of his own – maybe even won the war in terms of Thurman rejecting a rematch and confessing he needs 8 months to recover…

      Garcia chose not to try finding out what happens if he comes out of his comfort zone.In that way it was not a performance befitting a title fight. He may be the same boxer that he was when he beat Khan & Matthysse, but he is not the same man.

    • maxx

      Someone needs to teach Garcia how to cut the ring off, obviously Angel Garcia is not up to the job.Kudos

    • Standing8

      Where’s my check and when can i go home and cash it was the look on his face. Looked disinterested and befuddled the whole time.

  • Ignacio Ortiz

    Garcia is who he always has been Michael and that’s a good but not great fighter. Yeah he accomplished quite a bit at 140 but the case can also be made he got 3 questionable at best decisions in his favor and now because he lost you think he’ll make complete changes to his style?? At 28 with 9 years experiences it might be too late to change his style if anything you can tweak his style to make him a slightly better fighter than what he’s shown lately but if there’s a rematch I’d favor Thurman to beat him again. Both of these fighters left a bit to be desired in terms of action so if there’s a rematch I hope both men actually try and win convincingly instead of being ultra cautious and playing it safe.

  • Giuseppe

    The hay v Bellew fight was great fun but the outcome is just a huge asterisk for me. Haye clearly couldn’t move well even before the rupture. What a pity for him…. he will be out for at least 6 months. A rematch would be interesting b3cause now that they love one another… what will the build up be like?

    • left hook

      I agree, it’s a huge asterisk but credit to tony for winning. I will also like a rematch.

  • Giuseppe

    Watching that press conference, it was subdued and underwhelmed. no electricity, just like the fight. I do like Thurman when he is being authentic, though.

  • Ten Count Toronto

    While many rounds could be described as close (or better yet, vague) the overall fight wasn’t. There could be no imaginable verdict than a win for Thurman. There were precious few clear, affirmative rounds which I scored after the bell without hesitation – but only one of those was a Garcia round (the 12th, more from exasperation with Thurman than any credit to Garcia).

    Thruman:1,3,4,5,9.10,11.
    Garcia: 7,8, 12
    Even: 2,6.

    I actually viewed at least 5 rounds as basically even but I got the sense early on I must lower the bar for awarding a round to avoid something like a 116-116.

    Looking back, even this seems generous. Garcia just wasn’t busy enough in 9 or the 12 rounds to make a case for a “10”.

    • Left Hook

      I disagree that the 2nd was even close. I think Garcia landed a good body shot and little did little else. Thurman threw 15 more punches and landed 3 more..and again, Garcia did basically nothing. 8-4, with the only close rounds being those I scored for Garcia–6th, 10-12. Garcia didn’t really do ‘more’ than Thurman the last 3 rounds…but at least he was in ‘going forward’ mode.

  • Tony Nightstick

    David Haye is “one of this era’s top talents,” followed by, “he should be celebrated as one of the best big boxers in recent years.” Really? Not an opinion I share. But the silliest statement must surely be, “I wouldn’t count him [Chad Dawson] out.” You wouldn’t? Come on, he was counted out years ago.

  • TNT

    Who is the best welterweight in the world? Take your pick out of the following fighters: A) Thurman, B) Brook, C) Spence, D) Pacquiao.

    In reality, you will have to pick one out of three (A-C). I view Brook as the best welterweight but Thurman does boast a slightly better resume. After Brook and Spence tangle we should hope too see the winner take on Thurman to settle this debate once and for all.

    Now, do I believe that the Pacman (formerly considered by many the Pacmonster) can beat any of the other three? I honestly feel that he’d make a good showing for himself to finish the full twelve rounds on his feet. Options A-C are too young, big, and strong for the part-time boxer who has seen much better days.

  • kbryan

    It is so surprising to hear people say that Pac would beat either of these fighters. Pacman is 5’5″1/2 and is almost 40 years old. He has not knocked out a fighter 7 years. When you access a fighter you must look at the last several fights and weight/style. Manny has big problems with counter punchers.

    These fighters seem slow because they were using a lot of faints . If Pac got knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez who is 5 years older yes 5!. How can he get past these guys???????

  • Byron Horne

    Thurman clearly beat Garcia for me. 116-112. He dominated the first half of the fight. Won 5 of the first 6. Haye displayed heroic bravery in defeat in an absolute thriller. 20,000 fans packed in is a success for boxing and no mistake. Not sure how Paulie was up on two cards against Eggington? Sam was too big, too fresh and too heavy handed.

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