Sunday, March 5, 2017

Keith Thurman Won, Danny Garcia Didn't Lose

Nobody bothered to tell Danny Garcia that the fight was an invitation to "Dancing with the Stars."
I picked Danny Garcia to win last night’s unification bout against Keith Thurman.  What happened is that both men went into the fight with strategies in mind.  I was wrong about the outcome but I had Thurman’s strategy right even before he stepped into the ring.

You didn’t have to be a genius to figure it out.  Danny Garcia has a reputation of being a slow starter.  He usually plants himself in a good defensive posture where he can bang but he relies on the other person to fight.  So I knew Thurman would jump on him in the early rounds, which he did effectively. The problem with that strategy came later, in the middle of the fight, when he discovered that Danny Garcia was still there, unhurt, and had a chin like a cement block.
 And  that’s where Keith Thurman went into the second phase of his strategy – Dancing with the Stars.  I’m sure his people had discussed it with Thurman before the fight.  Jump on him early and try to put Garcia down.  Get ahead. But if Danny Garcia is still there in the middle rounds, then use your feet, don’t let him get set, above all don’t fight with the guy. You’re now the Dancing Queen.  Your job is to win on points. Amateur rules.  Get the two belts. That’s where the money is. Boxing is a business.

It worked, too.  The judges had it about right in the scoring.  The one judge who had Thurman way out far ahead didn’t deduct points for Thurman’s failing to engage in the second part of the fight.  The two judges who had it 115-113 both ways gave Garcia credit for aggressiveness in the later rounds, pushing the fight people expected to see.

Give the early rounds to Thurman, no doubt.  I didn’t like Thurman’s fight in the second half but feel the decision was accurate according to the rules. That being said, Thurman didn’t gain admirers with what was a showy but disappointing performance.

Danny Garcia also had a game plan.   He’d stand inside the pockets for the early onslaught, take whatever shots Thurman gave, capitalize on the opportunity if there was one, and then come on in the middle rounds. Trouble was that Thurman didn’t provide any opportunities in the early rounds and fought really well for maybe three-four rounds.  Then came the problem with Danny Garcia strategy – they guessed wrong, believing that Thurman would settle down to fight.  If Thurman did stand in and fight, he was going to get battered. But he didn’t stand in.  He danced, pop-shooting here and there.   And Garcia Inc. didn’t adjust to the situation, fighting too cautiously, and not pressing until rounds 8 through 12.  Easoer said than done, I suppose.  But Thurman’s waltz gave rise to lots of well-deserved booing and didn’t win him any friends.

Thurman’s people may have been content to conduct business in collecting two titles, but that kind of fight don’t sell in places like Fresno, Oxnard, and Stockton. Those are fight venues where un-hyped, unheralded not yet known fighters are . . . well…. actually fighting.

 Jonathan Maicelo,  Danny Valdivia, Andy Vences, Alex “Cholo” Saucedo, Jose Carlos Ramirez and other names you never heard of and I can’t spell are waiting in the wings. Judging by Thurman’s general tendency to avoid confrontations, they will be in for a long wait.

Bottom line:  Thurman won, but at the same time, I’m not finding it easy say that Danny Garcia lost.  I know for a fact that he picked up a few more fans by his serious, hard-work, no b.s., old-school Philly style.  How are those ribs today, Keith Thurman?

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