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Garcia, Thurman put perfect records on the line

Matt Youmans

March 2, 2017 09:22 AM
 Keith Thurman
Keith Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) is the WBA welterweight champion and the favorite on Saturday night. @USA Today Sports Images

By Matt Youmans
VSiN senior editor

In the boxing business, there are too many overhyped fights. And then there is Danny Garcia-Keith Thurman, a clash of undefeated fighters that deserves more hype.

Thurman, the more talented favorite, has been a rising star for some time. The more fiery Garcia believes he’s the better man, and most bettors consider him a live underdog.

Here’s the best part for those who want to watch and wager: It’s on network TV.

“This matchup is one of the most attractive in all of boxing,” said VSiN host Al Bernstein, who’s calling Saturday night’s bout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “Two undefeated fighters, both feeling they can be the best fighter in perhaps boxing’s best division, the welterweights. This is the kind of fight that can be good for boxing with the casual fan.”

Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) is the WBA welterweight champion. Garcia (33-0, 19 KOs) is the WBC champion. The unification battle is a legitimate showcase event made by Premiere Boxing Champions, produced by Showtime and televised by CBS.

“First of all, this could be the best fight of the year, and it hasn’t received much attention,” Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said.

The Westgate opened Thurman as a minus-250 favorite, but with ‘dog action showing in the betting market, the line has dropped to minus-220.

With two big punchers colliding, Thurman has predicted the fight won’t go 12 rounds. The round proposition is 10½ (Over minus-200).

“In terms of style, this fight is tricky,” Bernstein said. “Garcia is very powerful with the left hook, but he likes to counterpunch, unlike Shawn Porter, who Thurman fought a fight of the year candidate with in his last fight. Porter is all about aggression. Thurman can choose to box and get Garcia coming forward, something he does not want to do, or he may attack, hoping to use his superior power.”

Thurman has not fought since beating Porter by unanimous decision in June. Garcia has been active more recently, knocking out Samuel Vargas in November.

“Garcia was most effective as a 140-pound champion and may still have questions to answer at 147 — a win here would certainly do that,” Bernstein said. “Thurman is coming in with a longer layoff, and that could be a factor for him.”

Most boxing insiders are saying Thurman deserves to be a slight favorite, but it’s more of a coin-flip fight than the line indicates. That should mean the value is with Garcia at plus-190. Garcia boasts the stronger chin and has been in several more big fights.

“Garcia has had the tougher road to this point, and Thurman has not looked that great the last few fights, so I understand the movement in the line,” Kornegay said. “Some people see this as more of a pick’em fight, yet most still think the athletic Thurman will win.

“It should be a good fight, and I hope people get a chance to watch it.”

With some luck, boxing will get what it needs — a brawl that brings back memories of Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns at Caesars Palace in 1981.

THE NEXT BIG FIGHTS
March 18, Daniel Jacobs vs. Gennady Golovkin (-900)
April 29, Wladimir Klitschko vs. Anthony Joshua (-240)

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