The War Report: Real Eyes (Week 9, 2017)

Keith Thurman w/ trainer Dan Birmingham | Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

Keith “One Time” Thurman, a peculiar boxer-puncher fighting out of Clearwater, Florida, put himself in the forefront of the welterweight division by beating Danny Garcia via split-decision Saturday night.

There was hope to realize a scintillating fight was about to unravel after an exciting opening round. It was there Thurman set an early precedent with his aggression, and an overhand right to the chin offered a desperate moment from Garcia just two minutes into a contest between fighters in their prime, and their titles on the line.

Garcia (right), Thurman (left) | Photo credit: Ed Diller / DiBella Entertainment

It would’ve been convenient for an exciting fight to take place given the prime-time slot it had on CBS, but it ended in stark contrast to the way it began. Thurman was on his bike for much of the final three rounds, and after having been the persistent puncher through the first third of the fight, he confidently put his fate in the hands of the judges. Refraining from upper body action and indulging in his well-conditioned legs at the end of the fight, Thurman went on to win a reasonable split-decision but their was no closing of the show as they say.

Thurman, 28, a book-reading, flute-playing, free-thinking, Prius-driving, spiritual knowhow with a lisp, had a cerebral approach in and outside the ring with Garcia.

Not even the loudmouth father/trainer of Danny could keep Thurman from taking the high road after the fight’s debouched press conference announcing the event. At Friday’s weigh-in, Garcia, 28, who’s motive is often gagged by his predecessor, was compelled to try and make Thurman flinch when fixated with Thurman’s intense stare. With his father breathing down his neck, perhaps the chirping from Angel, Danny’s Dad, forced him to try and intimidate Keith, but Thurman didn’t budge. The moment was actually quite impressive. Just before the first bell sounded the next day, Garcia was looking down while referee Michael Griffin laid out his final instructions. Thurman didn’t have anything to lock onto once showing that glare again, but perhaps the Real Eyes of his realized a sincere disposition given off by Garcia just before he went on to seize authority from the jump.

Not all premium match-ups guarantee a fight to remember, and it was unfair to both men that it was compared with “Sugar” Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns I (“The Showdown”) throughout the entire promotion. Perhaps one day their handlers will learn that historic comparisons should only come after the fact, and the only concern they should have is within this era of boxing. For detractors, it’d be an easy way to shit on the fight, but terrible it wasn’t — especially because it was terribly important for boxing to materialize.

Now the unified WBA and WBC welterweight title holder, Thurman notches the biggest win for a 147-pounder since the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr. He’s the spiritual opposite of Floyd, which is a refreshing, but it would be a missed opportunity if Keith became a guy who, at one time, used to knock people out as he embarks to become the face of this glamour division. His reign has only just begun, however, and Thurman is clear-headed enough to realize that going forward he can become a star if, and only if, he brings excitement.

Fight of the Week

Tony Bellew TKO11 David Haye (200+) | March 4 — London, England

It wasn’t a great fight by any stretch of the imagination, but the atmosphere and genuine resentment between Bellew and Haye heightened everything about this contrived circus of an event.

David Haye and Tony Bellew | Photo credit: Nick Potts

Bellew, the current WBC cruiserweight title holder, moved up to heavyweight for a chance at beating a domestic star of yesteryear and a sweet payday. Many believed Bellew could get seriously hurt once Haye landed a flush shot, but the Liverpool native didn’t let that happen.

An injury to Haye’s achilles had the 36-year old hobbled beginning in the sixth round, and it changed the entire dynamic of the fight. Quite frankly, it was a sloppy mess after that, but compelling under the right context of the situation. It even seemed like a scene out of a movie. With a poorly wrapped leg, Haye continued to fight through the injury and did well under the circumstances, but Bellew was in too much of an advantage. A flurry in the eleventh sent Haye through the ropes and on the outskirts of the canvas before it was waved off by referee Phil Edwards.

Honorable mention

Juan Hernandez TKO3 Nawaphon Por Chokchai (WBC 112) | March 4 — Bangkok, Thailand

A stoppage from referee Thomas Taylor put an abrupt end to a firefight between two flyweights fighting for a vacant title. Hernandez, Mexico City, Mexico, was hurt in the second round and Nawaphon rallied with his home crowd behind him. Hernandez, 34–2 (25),came back to return the favor early in the third until Taylor stopped it with Nawaphon, 36–1 (28), still on his feet. It was fun while it lasted.

KO of the Week

Erickson Lubin TKO3 Jorge Cota (154) | March 4 — Brooklyn, New York

Preceding a huge fight, on a big televised stage, and with an awkward opponent in front of him, Lubin, handled the situation perfectly Saturday night on CBS by landing a timely left hook to abruptly end things in the fourth round.

Lubin, 18–0 (13), a southpaw from Orlando, Florida, bent his knees before lunging in with a left hook that found Cota’s chin. Seeing has how his body flailed to the mat from the shot, it didn’t seem like Cota was going to get up, but the 29-year old Mexican managed to just beat the ten-count. With Cota, 25–2 (22), in front of him on weak legs, referee Albert Earl Brown made the judgement call before action resumed, and it seemed to be the right decision.

Erickson Lubin (154) | Photo credit: Tom Casino / Showtime

Cota’s awkward counter-punching style was the main ingredient to the makes of a stinker in the preceding rounds, but Lubin saved the TV opener with one punch. The fight was a WBC junior middleweight eliminator, and the win will eventually put Lubin in a mandatory shot at the title. Jermell Charlo holds the green belt at 154-pounds.

Honorable mention

Andrzej Fonfara TKO10 Chad Dawson (175)| March 4 — Brooklyn, New York

In a fight he was seemingly losing, Fonfara, 29–4 (17), came back to win by stoppage starting late in the 9th round. Dawson, 34–5 (19), hinted at retirement soon after.

Fighters of the Week

Keith Thurman (28–0, 22 KOs)

Keith Thurman (WBA/WBC 147) | Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

“I want to dedicate this win and all my accomplishments to my original trainer, Ben Getty,” Thurman said after the win. “Thank you for believing in me before anyone believed in me. So that I could be here, on this stage in front of this arena right here. You gave me a life I could only dream of, and we’re living it here right now. Thank you, rest in peace.”

Tony Bellew (29–2–1, 19 KOs)

Tony Bellew (WBC 200) | Photo credit: Associated Press

The soft-bodied 34-year old had a career resurgence once winning the WBC cruiserweight title last year, and he adds to his lore with a win no one had seen him achieving. He was thought to be crazy for stepping in with Haye — his physical opposite — but Bellew out-boxed him in a gutsy performance. Unbeknownst to the 19,000-plus at the O2 Arena and those watching world-wide, Bellew claims he broke his right hand early in the fight, adding to the intricacy of the storyline between rivals. A Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view overseas, both men overcame pain to save the main event from utter disaster, and while he had an advantage fighting against a guy with one leg, Bellew will get himself another big payday by taking a chance.

Honorable mention

Shinsuke Yamanaka (27–0–2, 19 KOs)

“God’s left” | Credit: Naoki Fukuda /

Yamanaka defended his WBC bantamweight title for the twelfth consecutive time after forcing a stoppage of Carlos Carlson, 22–2 (13), in the seventh round Thursday night in Tokyo. The Mexican challenger was no match for Yamanaka once feeling the effect of Yamanaka’s devastating left hand. “God’s left” is what the Japanese have named it, and Yamanaka inches him closer to Japanese boxing history with this win. The 34-year old is now one win away from tying Yoko Gushiken’s national record of 13 straight defenses of the WBA junior flyweight title in the late 1970's.

Hostile Agent of the Week

Angel Garcia

The overreaction of Garcia’s first defeat can be viewed above in a way only an Angel can tell. Apart from that, seeing as how is son was losing after the sixth round, Angel could be heard on the CBS broadcast telling Danny he needed to take Thurman “to a dark street.” Everything comes full circle in The War Report:


From this past week

World title bouts

Keith Thurman SD12 Danny Garcia (WBA/WBC 147 unification) | 116–112, 115–113, 113–115 | Thurman now the unified WBA and WBC welterweight title holder

Shinsuke Yamanaka TKO7 Carlos Carlson (WBC 118) | Yamanaka defends the WBC bantamweight title for the 12th time

Juan Hernandez TKO3 Nawaphon Por Chokchai (WBC 112) | Hernandez wins the vacant WBC flyweight title

Knockout CP Freshmart KO5 Go Odaira (WBA 105) | Freshamart defends the WBA strawweight title for the 3rd time.


Tony Bellew TKO11 David Haye (200+)

David Allen KO2 David Howe (200+)

Andrzej Fonfara TKO10 Chad Dawson (175)

Erickson Lubin TKO4 Jorge Cota (154)

Sam Eggington KO8 Paulie Malignaggi (147)

Richardson Hitchens TKO1 Mario Perez (147)

Sergei Lipinets TKO7 Clarence Booth (140)

Ohara Davies TKO3 Derry Mathews (140)

Mario Barrios TKO6 Yardley Suarez (140)

Antonio Moran TKO1 Richard Zamora (140)

Roman Andreev UD12 Abraham Ndauendapo (135) | 116–112, 117–111, 118–111

Lee Selby TKO9 Andoni Gago (130)

Kenichi Ogawa MD10 Satoru Sugita (130) | 97–93, 96–94, 95–95

Brian Viloria UD8 Ruben Montoya (115) | 78–75, 77–75, 78–74

Declarations of War

Fights made official this past week (In order of weight class)

Gilberto Ramirez vs. Max Bursak (WBO 168) | April 22 — Carson, California | “Zurdo” Ramirez, 34–0 (24), will finally make his first defense of the WBO super middleweight title after a lengthy recovery from an injury to his right hand. The 25-year old Mexican beat Arthur Abraham a year ago to win the title. A 32-year old from Kiev, Ukraine, Bursak, 33–4–1 (15), will make his American debut on a Top Rank pay-per-view…

Sergiy Derevyanchenko vs. Kemahl Russell (160) | March 14 — Tunica, Mississippi | This fight will be the main event of a Tuesday night Premier Boxing Champions card televised on Fox Sports 1.

Avtandhil Khurtsidze vs. Tommy Langford (160) | April 22 — Leicester, Engand

Andre Berto vs. Shawn Porter (147) | April 22 — Brooklyn, New York | Set to take place at the Barclays Center and to be the main event of a Showtime card, this welterweight match-up is sanctioned by the WBC as an eliminator to face it’s new title holder, Keith Thurman. Berto, 31–4 (24), avenged his first defeat by knocking out Victor Ortiz in his last fight, while Porter, 26–2–1 (16), fell to Thurman on points. Both of those results will be ten months in the past come fight night.

Lucas Matthysse vs. Emmanuel Taylor (147) | May 6 — Las Vegas, Nevada | Part of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. HBO pay-per-view, Matthysse, 37–4 (34), makes his return to the ring having not fought since October 2015. He was knocked out by Viktor Postol that night. Taylor, 20–4 (14), is a solid 26-year old opponent fighting out of Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland.

Oscar Valdez vs. Miguel Marriaga (WBO 126) | April 22 — Carson, California | The main event of a precarious Top Rank pay-per-view is the card’s best fight. Valdez, 21–0 (19), looks to defend his WBO featherweight title for the second time against a competent Colombian in Marriaga, 25–1 (21), who is the WBO’s №1 ranked featherweight contender. The card takes place at the Stub Hub Center — a locale that houses unexpected drama.

Jessie Magdaleno vs. Adeilson Dos Santos (WBO 122) | April 22 — Carson, California | Magdaleno, 24–0 (17), took the WBO junior featherweight title from Nonito Donaire last November, and has begin given a soft first defense. Dos Santos, 18–2 (14), isn’t in the top-15 of any of the four major sanctioning bodies rankings, but that will probably change come April. It’s part of the Top Rank pay-per-view quadruple-header, which will also feature the pro-debut of the 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist, Shakur Stevenson.

Imminent Conflicts

This week’s boxing schedule

Television (U.S.)

Friday, March 10th

Showtime (10:00 PM ET / 7 PT) | MGM Grand — Detroit, Michigan

Claressa Shields vs. Szilvia Szabados (160)

Antonio Nievas vs. Nikolay Potapov (118)

Wesley Tucker vs. Ed Williams (147)

James Gordon Smith vs. Joshua Greer Jr. (118)

Estrella TV (10:00 PM ET / 7 PT) | Belasco Theater, Los Angeles, California

Christian Gonzalez vs. Romero Duno (135)

Alexis Rocha vs. TBA (154)

Niko Valdes vs. TBA (168)

UniMas (11:00 PM ET / 8 PT) | Lemoore, California

Andy Vences vs. Angel Hernandez (140)

Danny Valdivia vs. Douglas Ataide (154)

Telemundo (11:30 PM ET / 8:30 PT) | Mexico City, Mexico

Mauricio Pintor vs. Patricio Moreno (147)

Joselito Velasquez vs. Diego Guerrero (112)

Saturday, March 11th

HBO (11:00 PM ET / 8 PT) | Turning Stone Resort & Casino — Verona, New York

David Lemieux vs. Curtis Stevens (160)

Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Rene Alvarado (130)

BeIN Español (11:00 PM ET / 8 PT) | Arena Ciudad de Mexico — Mexico City, Mexico

Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Anuar Salas (115)

CBS Sports Net (time TBD) | Downtown Las Vegas Event Center — Las Vegas, Nevada

Rico Ramos vs. Erik Ruiz (126)

Flavio Rodriguez vs. David Thomas (147)

Max Ornelas vs. Felipe Rivas (118)

Notable fights not on TV

In order of weight class

Friday, March 10th

Bakhtiyar Eyubov vs. Gilbert Venegas (147) | Detroit, Michigan

Luca Giacon vs. Robert Tlatlik (140) | Madrid, Spain

Tomoki Kameda vs. Pipat Chaiporn (126) | Tokyo, Japan

Jamie Conlan vs. Yader Cardoza (115) | Belfast, Northern Ireland

Saturday, March 11th

Manuel Charr vs. Odlanier Solis (200+) | Bonn, Germany

Antoine Douglas vs. Pablo Munguia (160) | Charenton, Lousiana

Jack Culcay vs. Demetrius Andrade (WBA 154 eliminator) | Ludwigshafen, Germany

Frederick Lawson vs. Sakima Mullings (147) | Accra, Ghana

Michael Katsidis vs. Josh King (140) | Toowoomba, Australia

Yves Ulysse Jr. vs. Zachary Ochoa (140) | Verona, New York

Mason Menard vs. Carlos Cardenas (135) | Charenton, Lousiana

Richard Commey vs. Hedi Slimani (135) | Accra, Ghana

Diego De La Hoya vs. Roberto Pucheta (122) | Verona, New York

Duke Micah vs. Jonathan Aguilar (118) | Accra, Ghana

Rex Tso vs. Hirofumi Mukai (115) | Macao, China