Keith Thurman vs Danny Garcia & Erickson Lubin vs Jorge Cota
BY KID HERSH
From the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, came a welterweight unification match between two fighters that have a combined 60-0 record. To add even more to it - this fight is a welterweight unification on CBS! Sugar Ray Leonard was on the commentary team alongside Al Bernstein, Mauro Ranallo, and Brian Custer.
First up was Erickson Lubin (17-0, 12KO's) vs Jorge Cota (23-1, 20KO's). Referee was Earl Brown. The first round was a fairly tentative one, with my first impression being that of wondering if Cota is fully healthy due to the knee brace. Lubin was looking to stay on the outside and in the first round was working on a plan to get inside on Cota and land powerful blows without taking the full brunt of the Mexicans power. In the second round Lubin was still picking his spots and staying away from Cota, who has not landed a single punch flush yet. In the third round Lubin tossed the previous game plan out and decided to press Cota. He pushed him into the ropes and unloaded power punches. Cota was able to fight him off with his awkward style but they fought viciously to the bell. Then in the fourth round Lubin looked like he was fully warm, getting a knockout of the year candidate when he dipped down in a squatting type of pose (perhaps to loosen up, or show his domination) and then unloaded a looping overhand left that while a bit ugly knocked out Cota cold. Lubin wants to go straight for the title - and now he is right in line for Jermell Charlo's title.
Main event time for the super hyped Keith "One Time" Thurman (27-0, 22KO's) vs Danny "Swift" Garcia (33-0, 19KO's). The first round was a very fast start as typical for Thurman. He was pressing Garcia hard and nailing him with punches via getting off first. Garcia managed to land some in return but it was Thurman that stunned Garcia late in the round with an overhand right. Garcia of course held on and was calm but it showed that Thurman can hurt him and he is walking him down. Thurman continued outworking Garcia, who was looking to counter and again in round two had his moments but overall is not consistent enough to be winning the rounds. It would seem that he is banking on either hurting Thurman or coming on late. In the third round we saw more of the same, with Thurman taking over more and Garcia not really landing anything of note while one had to wonder if he was getting too complacent and letting the rounds slip away. Garcia had himself a great fourth round as he came forward and got busier with his punches. He was the ring general and landing jabs for the first time in the fight - which it is seemingly obvious that if he would get busier with them he would have further success! The fifth round was tough to score and evenly matched, with neither man really having the upper hand. The sixth and seventh rounds I thought were Garcia, with his body work early in the fight seeming to play a role now as Thurman is slowly fading - which I have seen in other fights. I cannot figure out if its mental or physical with Thurman but he always seems to start fights really hot but then cannot keep the momentum going. The coming rounds were still very close, with Garcia coming on strong and Thurman only bursting out in spots. Thurman was using the entire ring and picking his moments to throw while Garcia was zeroing in on the body while also landing some big hooks up top. The eleventh round saw Thurman using his footwork to seemingly "dazzle" the crowd but in reality he was just playing it safe and coasting because he thought he had enough rounds in the bank to win (via his corner telling him to "play it safe"). The twlefth round was pretty much the same - with my card being an edged out decision for Thurman, but not by much, due to many close rounds. The cards came in 116-112 Thurman, 115-113 Garcia, and 115-113 for the winner Keith Thurman.