By Frank Lotierzo
Danny Garcia fights Samuel Vargas 25-2-1 (13) on November 12th in his hometown of Philadelphia. The undefeated Garcia, who holds the WBC welterweight title, will then oppose undefeated WBA title holder Keith Thurman on March 4th of 2017. That’s the word from Showtime which formally announced their winter boxing series this week. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn is the front runner to host the bout which will air on either Showtime or on CBS in prime-time.
Thurman 27-0 (22) and Garcia 32-0 (18) are the successors to Floyd Mayweather’s belts after he retired in September of 2015. And both have lobbied to be the fighter that Mayweather faces in his anticipated comeback when he shoots for his 50th consecutive win, breaking the 49-0 tie he shares with Rocky Marciano. With both Thurman and Garcia being undefeated, they have a cache that is worth millions in the eyes of Mayweather, and that’s why I have some doubts as to whether or not Thurman-Garcia comes off, because if Floyd is going to fight again — and nothing short of the world stopping from rotating could convince me that he’s not — he has to do it reasonably soon. It’s going on 14 months since Mayweather fought Andre Berto. He’ll be 40 years old this coming February and sitting out much longer will make him less and less money in the bank to jog past an elite fighter the likes of Thurman and Garcia who are in the midst of their prime.
As of this writing, I wouldn’t have the slightest reservation picking Floyd to win nine out of 12 rounds against either Thurman or Garcia. Neither Keith nor Danny possesses one discernible tool in their arsenal, aside from youth, that could cause Mayweather to stumble. Floyd would make them both look like they were chasing a balloon next to a cliff, and eventually they’re going to fall off. However, they are both viable opponents for Floyd in that they’re undefeated and hold a legitimate title belt. So Floyd could profess via the media: “you can’t say I’m fighting a nobody, my opponent is undefeated and a world title holder.” No doubt Mayweather would beat that line to death. And in all honesty, he’d be hard to call on that because Thurman and Garcia reside at the top of the food chain in the welterweight division.
If we know anything about Mayweather, it’s how much he loves beating fighters with undefeated records. And both Thurman and Garcia are well aware of that. It’s almost a given that being undefeated gives them a huge leg up on being Mayweather’s comeback opponent. With the only difference being, Garcia’s undefeated record keeps him in the mix to be Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent as well, assuming Pacquiao beats Jesse Vargas on November 5th. (I think it’s safe to assume Pacquiao wants no part of Thurman and won’t go near him when it comes time to lining up his next big bout.)
Garcia is a smart cookie. Danny knows being undefeated gives him a heads-up on getting a shot at either Pacquiao or Mayweather. From a style vantage point, he’d be duck soup for Mayweather, and because he’s not necessarily a big welterweight, he’s ideal for Pacquiao. And that is why I am skeptical that Garcia will really go through with fighting Thurman in a bout that’s not even remotely close to being PPV worthy.
Thurman can try and shame Garcia all he wants…..“Enjoy your last cherry of the year … I’ll be waiting to take that green belt in 2017! #OneTime #KOs4Life #2Belts,” said Thurman on his Twitter. That sounds cool. Thurman fans and Garcia critics will love it, but it won’t budge Garcia in the least. Danny knows that boxing, as a pro, is about getting the most money you can without getting hurt physically. He’ll gladly shoulder the criticism, as long as he preserves his record and scores a fight with either Mayweather or Pacquiao, and then laughs his way to the bank when the check for millions clears.
When I survey the calendar, I see it turning in Garcia’s favor. And here’s why. Let us assume Pacquiao beats Jesse Vargas next Saturday night, and Garcia beats Samuel Vargas the following week on November 12th. That clears the way for both Pacquiao and Mayweather to announce their next bout by March of next year. In addition to that, by his 40th birthday in February, Mayweather will most likely have announced his plans for his comeback….and don’t put it past Floyd to do it on his birthday, February 24th. As long as Danny Garcia is a title-holder and undefeated heading into next year, he has to be the front-runner because of all the chips he brings for either Mayweather or Pacquiao to claim. Not to mention that he’d be made for Mayweather stylistically, and he’s not too physically challenging for Pacquiao.
That is why I’m leery about Garcia fighting Thurman. It’s not that I sense Danny has any trepidation about touching gloves with Thurman, it’s just not the right business decision until he knows for sure that he’s not going to get a shot at either Mayweather or Pacquiao. If he fights Thurman and loses, his shot for the lottery payday is gone for a good while. By the time Garcia and Thurman climb into the ring, both Floyd and Manny will more than likely have announced their next bout, which takes Garcia out of the mix.
Yes, Thurman vs. Garcia has the ingredients to be a very fan friendly bout with two fighters in their prime with the utmost bragging rights up for grabs. But from a business perspective, it’s not the ideal time for Garcia. For Thurman, it’s a great fight because it’s doubtful that he’s on the radar of either Mayweather or Pacquiao. But without Garcia all in, there’s no fight.
It is for these reasons that I doubt Garcia will fight Thurman next March. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao need a legitimate opponent for their next fight, and no one fits the bill better than Danny Garcia. His record and title give him the cache, and he’s less dangerous for either one of them compared to Keith Thurman.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com