NEW YORK -- More often than not, whenever there is a major fight, there is also another one that may loom for the winner. That potential fight will get talked about and written about even during the buildup to the fight at hand.
However, that was not the case with regard to the welterweight world title unification fight between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia.
Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) won a well deserved split decision over Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) to unify two of the 147-pound titles on Saturday night before a boxing-record crowd of 16,533 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and a national television audience that helped CBS win the night with a 2.2 rating, according to Nielsen overnight ratings.
Yet when Thurman came to the post-fight news conference with his face showing some bruising near each eye from Garcia’s hard punches, he really had no idea what might be next -- despite the depth in the division and the fact that he now stands as no worse than the No. 2 man in the weight class (with titleholder Manny Pacquiao still No. 1 to many).
“I’m not sure,” Thurman said when asked what might be next.
Angel Garcia, Danny’s father and trainer, said angrily that there would be no rematch because he felt like the scoring -- 116-112 and 115-113 for Thurman and 115-113 for Garcia -- was wrong. He even said he thought maybe his son should retire. But chalk that up to the emotion of the moment. Hopefully, Angel was right that there won’t be a rematch, because it is unnecessary. Thurman was the rightful winner and the fight wasn’t good enough to warrant one.
“His father said no rematch. Danny might want a rematch. The fans might want a rematch,” Thurman said. “Who knows, man? There’s a lot out there but real talk, real negotiations, I have no clue, man. I want to keep giving you guys great fights. I can’t say what I want right now because I got what I want.”
What Thurman wanted was a win against the best, most accomplished opponent of his career and to unify the belts. He got that.
“So, right now I’m going to sit back and reflect, and I will be stepping back into the ring sometime later on this year,” Thurman said. “We’re going to have to see what manifests. There might be some sort of a rematch fight. There might be some form of a stay-busy fight. Then there might be a great fight in the near future because the welterweight division is a great division. The model stays the same -- I got an ‘0.’ I’m not afraid to let it go. If you can beat me, beat me.”
The most obvious possibilities (of which Pacquiao is not one, because Pacquiao is off looking for Middle East riches to fight Amir Khan):
A further unification against the winner of the fight between titleholder Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) and mandatory challenger Errol Spence Jr. (21-0, 18 KOs). They are slated to meet May 27 in Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England, though there’s a chance the fight -- which Showtime announced before the Thurman-Garcia bout that it had acquired United States rights to -- could move into early June.
The winner of the April 22 title elimination fight between former titleholders Shawn Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs), who Thurman outpointed in a close, action-packed fight last June, and Andre Berto (31-4, 24 KOs). The winner will be one of Thurman’s mandatory challengers.
A fight with Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs), who won the WBA’s “regular” title by decision against David Avanesyan on Feb. 18 and is Thurman’s other mandatory challenger.
When asked specifically about facing the Brook-Spence winner, Thurman said he is interested.
“Of course, that’s a great fight, and fighting the winner is important,” he said. “But when will it manifest? I don’t know. Do I want to see three world titles strapped around me? Of course I do. Do I want to see three world titles strapped around any one of the welterweights? Yes, I do. Why? Because Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is not just a boxer, but a boxing fan and the world of boxing deserves history.”