Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pound-for-Pound Update 3-29-17

Let's start at the top: Earlier this month, Roman Gonzalez lost a controversial majority decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Overcoming a first-round knockdown and some nasty cuts, Gonzalez hurt Srisaket at many points in the bout. However, as the fight progressed, the challenger continued to land blistering left crosses and right hooks, helping to slow Gonzalez's ferocious attack. In a memorable 12th round, Gonzalez reversed course and unleashed a blistering assault on Srisaket, who had to survive to make it to the final bell. 

I scored the fight a draw – 113-113. One judge had it the same as I did while two saw Srisaket winning by two points (114-112). HBO's Harold Lederman had Gonzalez edging the fight and many on social media saw the bout more widely in favor of Roman. 

Ultimately, how one views the Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai decision determines the ranking of the top fighters in the sport. If you are of the belief that the judges' scorecards weren't legitimate summations of the ring action, that Gonzalez was robbed, then it would be perfectly reasonable to place Gonzalez at or near the very top of the current pound-for-pound list. However, if one looks at the scorecards as defensible, meaning, that they are conceivable given how the fight played out, then I don't see how Gonzalez can remain at #1 in the pound-for-pound list or how Srisaket could be ignored in the same rankings of the best fighters in boxing. 

I fall in the second camp. Although I had Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai a draw, I could certainly see a round I gave to Roman that could've gone the other way (the second). Again, I'm not saying that I necessarily agreed with the decision, but I understand how the judges could've arrived at their final scores in a legitimate fashion. 

In that I don't believe a robbery took place, I accept the judges' verdict. Thus, I can no longer have Gonzalez as the top fighter on my pound-for-pound list. Srisaket is certainly a very good fighter, but no one had him as an elite talent coming into the Gonzalez fight. Furthermore, in Gonzalez's previous bout against Carlos Cuadras, I thought that Gonzalez only eked out a draw. I didn't penalize Gonzalez after that fight in my Rankings. However, it's time to make an adjustment. It's one thing fighting Sergey Kovalev on even terms; it's another thing going life-and-death with perceived lesser fighters in your own division. 

Perhaps Cuadras and Srisaket had been underrated prior to their fights with Gonzalez. That could certainly be true. But no one had them on Sergey Kovalev's or Manny Pacquiao's level heading into their matchups with Roman. And although both Srisaket and Cuadras are very talented fighters, few would make the case that they among the best two or three fighters in the sport.  

I have Srisaket entering the Rankings at #5 and I've moved Gonzalez down to #6. As a result of this activity, Andre Ward becomes my new pound-for-pound king. And although Ward's fight with Kovalev could've gone either way, I feel much more comfortable with a guy sitting at the top of the Rankings eking out a win against a truly elite fighter vs. one struggling with boxers who haven't consistently proven to be at the top level of the sport.

In other news, Gennady Golovkin headlined the card that featured Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai. He won a close decision over Daniel Jacobs in a performance that was far from dominant. I essentially kept Golovkin in place after his victory. Because of Srisaket's rise, I moved him down one spot to #7. 

At the beginning of the month, Keith Thurman defeated Danny Garcia by split decision. I thought that Thurman was a clear winner in the fight and that Garcia was the recipient of a very generous scorecard. Thurman, still undefeated, has two excellent wins over Shawn Porter and Garcia in the welterweight division. I moved him up in the Rankings from #20 to #10. Had Garcia given a better account of himself, I would have kept him in my top-20. However, his Thurman performance wasn't just an off-night or an outlier. Garcia has also been the recipient of two questionable close decision wins in the last few years. Factoring in these performances, I'm convinced that he's no longer an elite fighter. He exits the pound-for-pound list. 

In a final move, Shinsuke Yamanaka returns to the Top-20. Earlier in March, the longtime bantamweight champ knocked out Carlos Carlson to make his 12th title defense. Now, Yamanaka may have been given a gift very favorable decision against Anselmo Moreno in 2015 but he was able to avenge that performance in a rematch last year. Yamanaka re-enters the Rankings at #20. Even though Carlos Cuadras won his fight against David Carmona earlier this month, it wasn't an impressive performance and I believe that Yamanaka's body of work might be a smidge better. Cuadras exits the Rankings. 

The Complete Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound List is as follows:

1.   Andre Ward
2.   Sergey Kovalev
3.   Manny Pacquiao
4.   Terence Crawford
5.   Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
6.   Roman Gonzalez
7.   Gennady Golovkin
8.   Saul Alvarez
9.   Naoya Inoue
10. Keith Thurman
11. Juan Estrada
12. Tim Bradley
13. Guillermo Rigondeaux
14. Vasyl Lomachenko
15. Adonis Stevenson
16. Donnie Nietes
17. Leo Santa Cruz
18. Carl Frampton
19. Mikey Garcia
20. Shinsuke Yamanaka 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder/head writer of
He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Opinions and Observations: Golovkin-Jacobs, Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai

Daniel Jacobs executed a terrific game plan against middleweight king Gennady Golovkin. Switching constantly between orthodox and southpaw, Jacobs confounded Golovkin through large stretches of their fight. From both stances, he fired sweeping hooks, sharp crosses and short uppercuts. Jacobs' approach kept Golovkin from applying consistent pressure; he didn't know where the punches would be coming from. In numerous occasions, Golovkin connected with shots at close range and then voluntarily backed off after receiving Jacobs' counters. For boxing spectators, Golovkin in temporary retreat was certainly a new phenomenon. 

What won the fight for Golovkin in my opinion (Golovkin prevailed by 115-112, 115-112 and 114-113 – I scored it for him 115-113, having it six-five for Golovkin with one round even) was his lead right hand. That shot sent Jacobs to the canvas in the fourth round and staggered him at a couple of other points during the fight. The only other punch that seemed to work for Golovkin was his jab, which wasn't the consistent weapon that it had been in previous fights but it was still effective enough to help him win rounds. 

However, the big story of the fight was Jacobs. Having been knocked out in his only previous loss of his career and dropped recently by light-hitting Sergio Mora, Jacobs wasn't expected to make it to the final bell. However, not only did Jacobs survive all 12 rounds, but at many points in the match he was clearly the superior talent. Using his height, reach and athleticism, he mostly stuck to a disciplined game plan of quick flurries, angles and switching stances. He didn't engage in a war and kept Golovkin from timing him or walking him down on a consistent basis. 

Jacobs' trainer, Andre Rozier, devised a clever game plan that accentuated his fighter's size, boxing skills and athleticism to keep Golovkin from fully asserting himself. At times, Rozier voiced his displeasure with Jacobs pulling straight back or losing concentration at the end of rounds but Rozier should certainly be pleased with his fighter's execution. Jacobs' and Rozier's work introduced a boxing god to mortality. Sure, Golovkin may have won the fight but he'll never be looked at with the same trepidation by potential opponents. It's not that future boxing foes will, or even can, duplicate Jacobs' game plan, but there no longer will exist the aura of invincibility around Golovkin, a factor that has helped him dominate the top levels of boxing prior to Saturday. 

But let's not disparage Golovkin's effort against Jacobs. He earned a tough victory when things weren't necessarily working well for him, a demonstration of significant intestinal fortitude. Facing an athletic, rangy, skilled boxer with power, Golovkin landed what he could and was successful at hurting Jacobs with strafing right hands. It wasn't his best performance but not all opponents are compliant in the ring. Golovkin beat a determined, talented fighter. His offense was just a tad more consistent and his blows were the better shots. 

At 34 and with over 350 amateur bouts, it's certainly possible that Golovkin's physical prime is behind him. However, let's not discount that Jacobs' approach might have given Golovkin problems earlier in his career as well. Yes, there were moments on Saturday where Golovkin couldn't pull the trigger like he had in previous fights but that could also be attributed to Jacobs' tricky style as much as Golovkin's potential physical decline. In short, both Golovkin's age and Jacobs' effectiveness should be given significant weight when assessing GGG's performance on Saturday. 

What was most telling about Golovkin was how he reacted to Jacobs' power. Instead of staying in the pocket and banging with multi-punch combinations, Golovkin often got out of range to reset. Although his chin held up wonderfully throughout the fight, it was clear by how he reacted to Jacobs' shots that Golovkin didn't feel safe to stand and trade. Jacobs' body work, specifically his left uppercut out of the southpaw stance, sent Golovkin away on numerous occasions. These moments should give future GGG opponents hope. Golovkin has always seemed unflappable but now doubt has finally started to creep in. I'm not saying that he necessarily loses his next fight but now one can see how he will struggle in the future. If GGG no longer feels comfortable exchanging like he did in the past, he becomes a much different and far more beatable fighter. 

Ultimately, Golovkin-Jacobs may not have been a spectacular bout, but it was an engrossing and memorable one. We learned important things about both fighters. Jacobs removed all doubts about his physical and psychological makeup and Golovkin had just enough savvy and offense to defeat a gifted and determined opponent. The scores could have gone either way and in the final analysis Golovkin-Jacobs was one of the few occasions in boxing where both combatants exited as deserved winners. 


Pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez and former junior bantamweight titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvisai engaged in an epic war on the Golovkin-Jacobs undercard. Sor Rungvisai, a little-known, hard-hitting southpaw from Thailand immediately announced his presence with a hard left hand to the chest that dropped Gonzalez in the opening round. By the end of the second round, Gonzalez had successfully battled back with expert displays of combination punching, throwing almost every punch imaginable and landing with pinpoint precision. 

Rounds three through six were vintage Gonzalez displays. He blasted Sor Rungvisai around the ring with a relentless offensive attack. Although Sor Rungvisai continued to land, Gonzalez's clean punching repeatedly snapped his opponent's head back and forced him into retreat. In particular, Gonzalez had sustained success with a right hand/left uppercut combination, of which Sor Rungvisai couldn't find a proper defense. 

However, as the fight progressed, a series of head butts (from my vantage point, none of them intentional) opened up two cuts over Gonzalez's right eye and as the bout continued, Roman's face was a bloody disaster. Rungvisai's consistent sharp left hands didn't help matters either as Gonzalez's cornerman, Miguel Diaz, couldn't contain the bleeding.

From my perspective, Gonzalez started to fade in the seventh round and struggled in the back half of the fight. Although he continued to march forward, his offensive attack lacked its previous dynamism. With Gonzalez not fighting at his same ferocious clip, Sor Rungvisai became increasingly emboldened. Earlier he had retreated after feeling Gonzalez's power but in the latter rounds, he remained in the pocket, firing hard left hands and withstanding Gonzalez's forays.  

Gonzalez rallied with a huge 12th round, where he unloaded his arsenal attempting to end the fight. Although, Sor Rungvisai made it to the final bell, he was in survival mode at several points in the round. On my card, I had the fight a draw, as one of the judges had it. However, the other two saw Sor Rungvisai winning by two points, acceptable scores in my opinion. 

Nevertheless, the decision was wildly unpopular in the arena and very few on social media had Sor Rungvisai winning. I certainly think that the fight could've played much differently in the stands at Madison Square Garden than how it did on television (where I was watching). Gonzalez was clearly the aggressor throughout the majority of the fight. He continued to press forward and fire shots. However, Rungvisai countered very well off the ropes. Those shots are far easier to see on television with multiple angles than in an arena hundreds of feet away. In the second half of the fight, Sor Rungvisai seemed to be connecting with the stronger blows. 

Ultimately, Glenn Feldman, Julie Lederman and Waleska Roldan turned in defendable scorecards. It should be noted that East Coast judges are far less inclined to score aggression than those in other jurisdictions. To them, clean punching matters more than other scoring criteria such as ring generalship and effective aggression. I'm not saying that Saturday's judges were right or wrong, just that different regions in the U.S. look at scoring fights differently. I'm fairly confident that Gonzalez would've won Saturday's fight had it taken place in Nevada or California, jurisdictions that seem to place more emphasis on the fighter who comes forward. 

Gonzalez may have lost his "0" on Saturday but his effort only helped build his legend. Overcoming an early knockdown and gushing blood throughout the bout's second half, he demonstrated why he has endeared himself to fight fans the world over. He sought no excuses and refused to look for a way out of the fight. He faced a rugged, hard-hitting, proud opponent and refused to yield. 

Although clearly acknowledging Gonzalez's courageous display on Saturday, it should be stated that he hasn't looked comfortable at junior bantamweight (115 lbs.). Against Carlos Cuadras and Sor Rungvisai, he took significant punishment. Gonzalez started his career at 105 lbs., and three divisions north – and a whole lot of ring wars later – he seems to have met his physical limit. At 29, he's also at an age when many smaller fighters tend to decline rapidly

Unfortunately for American boxing fans, most of Gonzalez's best moments in his career transpired in Japan, Nicaragua and Mexico. Until 2015, his fights weren't consistently broadcasted in the U.S. Thus, the overwhelming majority of American fight enthusiasts were deprived of watching Roman's awesome peak. And while HBO deserves belated credit for bringing Gonzalez stateside, a lack of imagination and a bias against smaller fighters kept him away from U.S. airwaves for far too long (again, I do credit HBO for eventually committing to Gonzalez). 

Hopefully, U.S networks will become more imaginative with their boxing programming. There will be other smaller-weight fighters who can captivate American audiences if given the proper exposure. Luis Nery, a 22-year-old Mexican bantamweight knockout artist, may be one such fighter. He's in line to fight Shinsuke Yamanaka, the bantamweight king, later this year. If Nery emerges with the title, and it's certainly a possibility, a U.S. network should jump on him; that could be a wonderfully fruitful relationship. 

If he wants them, Roman Gonzalez still has several attractive fights on the horizon. Alluring rematches against Juan Estrada, Cuadras and Sor Rungvisai would be welcome at HBO and there's always the big-money option against Naoya Inoue in Japan. It's certainly possible that Gonzalez can reclaim a title for a final coda to his memorable career.

Gonzalez will be remembered as a can't-miss fighter. As offensively gifted as any in the sport, he plied his trade with a technical mastery and ferocious zeal unmatched in contemporary boxing. Ultimately, it's unfortunate that so many fight fans were deprived of seeing his best in the ring, but even in the autumn of his career, Gonzalez demonstrated why he was such an extraordinary talent. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder/head writer of
He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Podcast Archive

I've archived all of my recent podcasts. You can find them on the left column of under "Recent Podcasts." If you are accessing the page via mobile device, scroll down to the bottom of the page, click "View Web Version" and then you will find the archive on the left column. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder/head writer of
He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Punch 2 the Face Podcast

Listen to this week's Punch 2 the Face podcast. We interviewed K2 Promoter Tom Loeffler about Golovkin-Jacobs, Roman Gonzalez and Joshua-Klitschko. Also on the show, we discussed David Lemieux's devastating knockout of Curtis Stevens. Other topics include Demetrius Andrade, Friday's Michael Conlan fight, Kauffman-Mansour and more. Click on the link below to listen. 

Blog Talk Radio link:
iTunes link:
Stitcher link:

Adam Abramowitz is the founder/head writer of
He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Opinions and Observations: Thurman-Garcia

"He had technique but I had superior technique. And I was able to read his technique. Ultimately, it comes down to who lands the most punches and who is the most was a nice night of boxing in my opinion."
– Keith Thurman 

Danny Garcia has notched a number of impressive wins in his career. He defanged the wild beast that was Lucas Matthysse. He trapped a jackrabbit in Amir Khan. In both of those signature victories, Garcia waited patiently in the pocket to exploit an opportunity. For Matthysse, it was a counter right hand that helped to close his eye. Against Khan, a sweeping left hook ultimately changed the fight.  

Until Saturday, Garcia's style had suited him well throughout his time in the professional ranks. With a mixture of poise, opportunism and execution, he had defeated a number of talented fighters to become a multi-divisional titlist. Yes, he had a couple of close calls and perhaps a win or two that was fortunate, but Danny's talent and approach in the ring had propelled him into becoming one of the top American fighters of his era.  

However, as Saturday demonstrated, Keith Thurman presented a series of challenges for Garcia that required him to ditch his preferred, deliberate style in favor of something more daring. But ultimately, Danny just couldn't leave behind the girl he brought to the dance. 

Early in the match, Thurman was the sharper fighter. Landing a variety of big punches, he bested Danny with power and accuracy. As he continued to pile up points, he decided to turn the fight into a boxing match. Instead of trading bombs in the pocket, he circled the ring and connecting with quick flurries.  

Garcia needed to land a devastating punch or a series of powerful shots to change the trajectory of the fight. He did throw his patented counters in the pocket, but most often his biggest shots failed to connect. As rounds continued to go Thurman's way, Garcia stuck with his usual ring style, unable to adjust or adapt. In the fight's final third, he did pick up the pace somewhat but he wasn't able to hurt Thurman or fully seize the initiative. Ultimately, there wasn't a real Plan B.  

When the final scores were announced, one judge was kind enough to give Garcia the nod but to be frank, only the most magnanimous of ring observers could find seven rounds for Danny. I thought that he won three. Maybe he took five. But he certainly didn't do enough to win. Saturday's action required a different Danny Garcia, one who fights with more urgency, one who takes more risks in the ring. That fighter never materialized.  


When trying to identify an elite or next-level fighter, one attribute I find significant is a boxer's ability to change his style to win a fight. In short, can a boxer who's down on the cards, use another approach to get a victory? 

On occasion, even the best boxers find themselves behind in a fight. And part of the reason why the elites deserve their hosannas is the adjustments they make against difficult opponents. Consider some of the truly elite fighters from the modern era. They often exhibited this characteristic of changing their style to win. Pernell Whitaker went for the knockout of Diosbelys Hurtado. Sugar Ray Leonard had to become the slugger against Tommy Hearns. Floyd Mayweather engaged in a shootout against Marcos Maidana. None of these fighters preferred to win in that style but they had to transform their approach in hopes of salvaging a victory.  

However, it's not just enough to want to do something different; these fighters were successful enough to win with the alternate style. So there are two parts to this equation: the recognition that a preferred style isn't working, and the ability to win with a different approach.  

The cold reality of Garcia's performance on Saturday is that Danny was unable to realize that he was well behind in the fight, and/or he was unwilling to change his approach to get a victory. Thurman was landing more frequently and with better scoring blows. As he boxed more in the second half of the fight, he was winning the battle of ring generalship. He dictated when most of the action would commence.  

What Garcia needed to do was to sell out for the win. He had to up the tempo and apply consistent pressure. One punch should've become three- and four-punch combinations but only seldom did Garcia let his hands go freely. Even when Garcia would connect with a counter right or a left hook, there was nothing coming behind it.  

Perhaps one reason why Garcia didn't go after Thurman more aggressively later in the fight was Keith's impressive power punching display in the first round. In an attempt to trade fire-with-fire in the opening frame, Garcia got the worst of the action. Keith scored with a potpourri of power shots: right crosses, left uppercuts, looping right hands and left hooks. After the rough opening foray, Garcia fought more conservatively. And even as he slightly increased his punch output in the fight's final third, he never let his hands go like he did in the first round.  

Garcia isn't a natural pressure fighter. He's more often a pocket fighter, a counterpuncher, someone who wins by being more intelligent and poised. Yet, the final half of Saturday's fight didn't call for poise and intelligence, but instead action and urgency. Garcia needed to take Thurman out of his comfort zone, rough him up and take risks. But throughout the fight, Danny still had his cruise control set to 55 mph. In the championship rounds, he upped it to 65, but by that point, he should've been careening around the ring with reckless abandon. 

Ultimately, Garcia was too controlled and that caution contributed to his loss. When it was obvious to almost everyone in Barclays Center that something radical needed to change, Garcia never went to the next gear. He either didn't have it or didn't want to push it, not the response of an elite fighter.  


Kids, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a fighter named Keith Thurman whose punches were so wide you could literally drive a Mack truck between them. When Keith was a boy... 

Ok, let me end story hour early tonight but that part about Keith being wide, well that was 100% true. He would throw shots from across the arena. When they landed, they were often spellbinding; when they missed, he was a sitting duck.  

It's worth recounting these earlier times because the Thurman of yore probably would’ve gotten knocked out on Saturday night. Garcia threw his best counterpunch haymakers – the sweeping left hooks and the chopping right hands – but Thurman evaded them all night. When Garcia went big, he was unsuccessful. Many of his shots sailed by Thurman while others just whisked past his chin or nose. Garcia just couldn't land his home run.

Much has been made about Thurman's gradual shift from a knockout artist to a boxer-puncher. And that transition has certainly been impressive. When he initially appeared on premium TV, Thurman was a crude slugger – a damn entertaining one – but crude nevertheless.  

Flash forward five or so years and Thurman would be scarcely recognizable. Boxing just as much as slugging, getting in and out of the pocket, blocking and parrying shots, moving lightly on his feet, Thurman has emerged as a polished combatant. He still lands big shots but he's ready to defend counters. In tough fights against Diego Chaves, Luis Collazo and Shawn Porter, he's learned that he can be vulnerable in the ring. He now respects what his opponents can do and understands the importance of a game plan.  

Dan Birmingham's tireless work in the gym has helped elevate Thurman to the next level. Thurman seems fully prepared for what his opponents’ best weapons are. When hit cleanly, he knows how to tie up, use his feet or fire back. On Saturday, he seemed to know where and when Danny would throw his counters even before Garcia did.  

It's clear that Thurman has considerable intelligence and is an apt pupil in the gym but it's Birmingham's attention to detail that has helped prepare Thurman for this stage of his career. Thurman fought confidently on Saturday but he executed in a way that reduced Garcia's effectiveness. After the first few rounds, Thurman fought his fight, not Garcia's. From Thurman's perspective, Garcia offered nothing unforeseen.  

With his work with Winky Wright and now Thurman, Birmingham has clearly established himself as one of the elite trainers in boxing. On the surface, there are few commonalities between Wright and Thurman. Wright was a flat-footed southpaw with little athleticism or power but had an almost impenetrable defense. Thurman is an athletic, hard-hitting banger who took a lot longer to grasp basic defensive fundamentals. However, the through line with both fighters is their intelligence in the ring. Like Wright, Thurman doesn't beat himself and he has an acute understanding of what he needs to do to win. In addition, both Wright and Thurman have been almost devotional in their praise of Birmingham. 

A humble guy, Birmingham most likely would deflect my compliments and steer them to his fighters. And that modesty is refreshing in a sport where many coaches think that they are the stars. But let's make sure Birmingham receives his due: he has shaped two unconventional fighters into elite talents. That they so scarcely resemble each other in the ring further speaks to his greatness.

Adam Abramowitz is the founder/head writer of He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thurman-Garcia: Keys to the Fight

Undefeated titleholders Keith Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) and Danny Garcia (33-0, 19 KOs) clash in a welterweight unification fight on Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This matchup features two of the higher-profile fighters in American boxing as well as one the sport's more confrontational figures in Angel Garcia, Danny's father and trainer. Thurman-Garcia has had a long gestation period. Thurman hasn't been in the ring since June although he was on-hand for Garcia's last win in November against Samuel Vargas. After that fight, Thurman confronted Garcia during the post-fight interview and a verbal conflagration ensued. Thurman-Garcia was officially announced almost immediately after that episode.

To the greater boxing community, this fight will answer several questions. Although many have predicted greatness for Thurman, Garcia will represent his proving ground. Will Thurman rise to the challenge or will he come up short, like other betting favorites have against Garcia? (Thurman is essentially a 2-1 favorite.) And boxing enthusiasts have waited for years to see Garcia take on another elite boxer. Will his success at 140 lbs. translate against the best at welterweight? Also, will the winner of this fight want to challenge the victor of the Kell Brook-Errol Spence matchup scheduled to unfold later in the year? Saturday will provide some needed answers. 

Below are the keys to Thurman-Garcia. My fight prediction will be at the end of the article.

1. Ring Geography

Perhaps the most important aspect of Saturday's fight is where the action will take place. Thurman will have a decided speed advantage. He can certainly box on the run or quickly potshot and get out of the pocket. Those approaches will help reduce Garcia's ability to counter and may be Thurman's best avenue to picking up points. Garcia has good footwork but he's not the athlete that Thurman is. He struggled with Lamont Peterson's movement and failed to land decisive blows in that contest despite getting the nod on the judges' scorecards. 

Neither fighter really is at his best at close range. Although Thurman does have a punishing right uppercut and Garcia can cause damage with his left hook, both of those punches are rather long and they are at their best from mid-range. It's unlikely that Thurman-Garcia will develop into a phone booth war.  

In the pocket, both fighters have a multitude of offensive weapons. Danny will feature his full complement of counterpunches, including his right hand (which he throws from a variety of angles and trajectories), left hook and uppercuts. Thurman can score from that distance with his jab and three major power punches: right hand, left hook and right uppercut. The conventional wisdom for this fight states that when the fight is at mid-range, Garcia should be at his best. His counters are creative, accurate and crisp. He also finds ways to punish his opponents for their mistakes. However, Thurman can certainly excel from this distance as well. His considerable power manifests at mid-range. It could be anyone's fight in the pocket. 

2. Who wins the exchanges?

Thurman may have the better natural power of the two punchers but he also makes more mistakes in the ring than Garcia does. He can get very wide with his shots, leaving him out of position to defend. Like most counterpunchers, Garcia often will take a few rounds to figure out his opponent. It's certainly possible that Thurman could win the fight's early exchanges before Garcia fully commits to his punches or makes adjustments to Thurman's speed. 

Over his last few fights, Thurman has improved at not fighting as straight up and he now consistently attacks behind his jab. These technical and strategic improvements have helped him against his recent opposition. Although never a defensive marvel, Thurman now picks off shots better because of a technical improvement with his glove positioning. Overall, he's become more defensively responsible than he was earlier in his career. Nevertheless, Thurman was certainly hit hard at points by Shawn Porter in his last fight. And if Garcia lacks Porter's urgency in the ring, he does have far superior accuracy and poise than Thurman's last foe. Garcia will have opportunities to connect.  

Variety will be very important for both fighters. Thurman will want to use his jab, but not so much that Garcia starts timing him with overhand rights. Employing angles against Garcia will be helpful. As for Garcia, he can't just wait for big counters. At times, he'll need to put punches together to create openings; he'll have to make his own luck instead of counting on potential Thurman mistakes. 

Both of these fighters have a variety of tools to best or hurt an opponent during exchanges. Will it be Thurman's speed and power or Garcia's accuracy and variety of counterpunches that will be more effective?

3. What will Danny improvise?

To Danny Garcia's detractors (and they are legion), they can't understand how a fighter who is so "ordinary" on the surface beats quality fighters. (And to be fair, much of the antipathy toward Danny is attributed to a couple of questionable decisions that he won.) Garcia doesn't have superior speed (hand or foot), athleticism or power. 

But there are two aspects of Garcia's that are exceptional in the ring: his poise and his improvisational ability. I think it's clear that his poise is well understood by now. He wasn't rattled by the ferocious punching of Lucas Matthysse. Amir Khan's considerable hand speed advantage was eventually neutralized. Garcia never beats himself in the ring. He remains calm, even when under duress. 

But Garcia's gift of improvisation is rarely discussed. He can throw all sorts of right hands: crosses, looping shots from distance, overhand rights and hooks (he's a rare conventional fighter who throws a right hook). Even though Zab Judah took away Garcia's left hand, Danny still found a way to land his right from seemingly every angle and trajectory. When Lucas Matthysse wound up getting out of position, Garcia maneuvered himself to score a knockdown. Everyone remembers the sweeping left hook that Garcia landed against Khan. 

Garcia takes what is given by his opponent and finds a way to capitalize. If a foe puts up ear muffs, Garcia goes to the body. If Garcia only has one hand to work with, he'll use that arm to win. His gifts of surprise and improvisation help level the playing field against bigger punchers and athletically superior opponents. 

4. Round-to-Round Consistency

Since the end of 2011, Garcia has had seven fights go the distance. All of them have been competitive. He's had fights where he's won the opening rounds (Judah, Peterson) and others where he's come on in the second half (Matthysse, Morales I), but he has yet to put 12 consistent rounds together. At times, Garcia has been a front-runner but he's also been a slow starter. What is apparent though is that he can lose focus in fights and he's yet to prove that he has top conditioning over 12 rounds. 

Thurman has his own issues with consistency but his are of a different variety than Garcia's. Thurman often gets trapped between styles. He can box, bomb, load up on knockout punches, run, or trade in the pocket. However, not all of these stylistic shifts flow seamlessly. At points he'll be indecisive about how to attack, and in what manner. The result is that he'll have rounds where he'll fail to impose himself decisively. He'll box for a touch, move around the ring, potshot, throw a big shot or two, but it all won't add up to a winning round against a more committed opponent. 

Both Garcia and Thurman have exhibited issues with consistency. Garcia doesn't seem to have enough physically to impose himself over 12 rounds. Instead, he'll pick his spots at points or take rounds off. Occasionally he will sleepwalk during fights once he's up big. Thurman just doesn't always know what he wants to do. The lack of a cohesive plan can harm him. Whoever minimizes these consistency issues stands to fare better on Saturday. 

5. Recuperative Powers

Like almost all fighters, Thurman and Garcia have been hurt in the ring. Thurman almost went down from a body shot against Luis Collazo. Jesus Soto Karass clocked him with an uppercut and even Diego Chaves' ferocious body attack in their first four rounds forced Thurman to try to win on the outside. Garcia was staggered against Zab Judah, absorbed huge shots from Lucas Matthysse and was roughed up by Lamont Peterson during the second half of their fight. Although neither Thurman nor Garcia was knocked down in any of these fights, it's clear that they can be vulnerable. 

To this point in their careers, it seems as if Thurman doesn't take shots as well as Garcia does but he also appears to rally better after being hurt. He forced Collazo to quit just a round after he was hurt. He wound up stopping both Chaves and Soto Karass. Once Garcia's been seriously hurt, he hasn't responded as well. Judah was the fresher fighter in the championship rounds and almost everyone can agree that Peterson was the boxer who caused far more damage in their fight, even if he didn't win enough rounds to get the victory. 

For this particular matchup, it should be fascinating to see how each fighter responds to getting hurt. In my estimation, Thurman will be the biggest hitter that Garcia has faced north of 140 lbs. As for Thurman, I don't think that he has ever faced the type of sharp puncher that Garcia is. Perhaps Thurman gets hurt easier but if Garcia is in real trouble maybe he doesn't come back? Who really knows? However, I definitely want to find out which one can take the other boxer's shots better and who can recover more quickly. 


It's going to be close. I think that Thurman will pull out to an early lead. He'll take the initial rounds by boxing on the outside. His jab and athleticism will win the fight's first third. Eventually, the distance will be closed by a combination of factors: Thurman will start to get too brave and/or Garcia will figure out Thurman's rhythm and timing. As the fight progresses, Garcia will have success with left hooks to the body and straight or overhand counter rights. Although Thurman will have moments in the pocket, I think that he'll realize that he's much safer working at a distance. 

The fight will essentially come down to a series of swing rounds where Thurman boxes and moves while Garcia is the aggressor, although not necessarily an effective one. I don't expect the fight to be fantastic to watch aesthetically but it should be tense and competitive throughout the 12 rounds. Ultimately, I think that Thurman does just enough boxing to squeak by with a decision, although many will believe that Garcia's periods of clean punching should've earned him the victory. 

Keith Thurman defeats Danny Garcia by split decision.  

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter
SN Boxing on Facebook
Contact Adam at: