Boxing: Thurman wins title unification bout

Keith Thurman celebrating his split decision win against Danny Garcia on March 4, 2017.
Keith Thurman celebrating his split decision win against Danny Garcia on March 4, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

New York (AFP) - World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight champion Keith Thurman defeated Danny Garcia by a split decision Saturday night to claim the World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight belt in a unification clash between the pair of unbeaten champions.

Thurman successfully defended his title for the third time, winning a tactical defensive struggle by scores of 116-112, and 115-113 on two of the judges' scorecards.

The other judge had it 115-113 for Garcia.

Saturday's match-up between the 28-year-old Americans was only the third time in history that two undefeated fighters fought to unify welterweight world titles and the first since Oscar de la Hoya faced Felix Trinidad in 1999.

Thurman is the first fighter in the division to hold multiple titles since Floyd Mayweather held the WBA, WBC and World Boxing Organisation (WBO) belts after defeating Manny Pacquiao in 2015.

There were no knockdowns as the 12-round fight at the Barclays Center turned into a strategic battle.

Thurman was the aggressor, scoring early then staying out of trouble in the final rounds for the victory.

Garcia went long moments without throwing a punch, seemingly content to wait for Thurman to attack then try to counter, but Thurman always seem to land one or two good punches in the closing seconds of each round.