NEW YORK: Undefeated Americans Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia, rival champions in a welterweight division where Manny Pacquiao and Kell Brook also claim supremacy, announced a unification fight Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) for their crowns.
Thurman, 27-0 with 22 knockouts, will defend his World Boxing Association crown for the third time while Garcia, 33-0 with 19 knockouts, makes his first World Boxing Council title defense.
“I will unify the titles,” Thurman said. “I am the true welterweight champion.”
The 28-year-old US fighters will meet March 4 at the Barclays Center in New York with the winner a potential future unification foe for either 38-year-old Filipino icon Pacquiao, the World Boxing Organization king in the weight class, or Britain’s 30-year-old Brook, the International Boxing Federation champion.
After two years as an interim champion, Thurman beat US southpaw Robert Guerrero in 2015 for the crown, then kept the throne by stopping US southpaw Luis Collazo and taking a unanimous decision last June over compatriot Shawn Porter.
“I am the champ and I always will be,” Thurman said. “Danny Garcia is a fighter who I’ve asked for and who I have respect for. But he’s going to learn, just as my past opponents have, that my power and speed will rise above any swiftness he has.”
Garcia, whose nickname is “Swift,” was a super lightweight champion for three years and beat Guerrero for the vacant WBC title by unanimous decision last January. At Barclays Center, Garcia is 5-0.
“Barclays Center and Brooklyn are my home away from home,” Garcia said. “It’s going to be another Danny Garcia show. To me, Keith Thurman is nothing but a name. I’m going to show the world once again that I am a true champion.”
Pacquiao, 59-6 with two drawn and 38 knockouts, beat Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision two months ago in Las Vegas for the WBO crown. The Asian star is set to defend the title in April against Australian Jeff Horn (16-0 with one draw and 11 knockouts).
Brook, 36-1 with 25 knockouts, took his crown by majority decision over Porter in 2014 and defended three times before jumping up to middleweight and being stopped last September by unbeaten Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan.