New York (AFP) - WBA champ Keith Thurman defeated Danny Garcia by a split decision Saturday night to claim the WBC welterweight belt in a unification clash between a 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.
"Ain't no robberies happening tonight," said Thurman, who improved to 28-0 with 22 knockouts.
Saturday's matchup 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 WBO belts after defeating Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
"I thought I outboxed him. I thought it was a clear victory," Thurman said. "You heard the scorecards. I knew it had to go to me.
"This is your boy Keith 'One Time' Thurman and still champion of the world. One time became 'Two Time' baby."
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, 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.
Thurman landed more power punches (102-81) and jabs (45-41) than Garcia. He felt he did enough in the first nine rounds to slow the tempo down the rest of the way.
"I was not giving the fight away. I felt like we had a nice lead and we could cool down," he said. "I felt like we were controlling the three-minute intervals in every round.
"There was some tough rounds, but at the end of the day I knew I did what I had to do to win."
Garcia suffered his first loss in 34 fights. He was warned for a low blow in the seventh round. At the end of the 11th he seemed confused and headed to the wrong corner before Thurman tapped him on the shoulder and pointed him in the right direction.
- Shrugs off loss -
Garcia thought he had won the fight raising his hands in victory after the first two scores were announced then shrugging off the defeat as Thurman celebrated another title defence.
"I came up short tonight but I gave it my all," Garcia said. "I thought I was the aggressor. I pushed the pace of the fight.
"I came to fight and it didn't go my way -- oh well."
Thurman is now 7-0 with three knockouts in world title fights.
He's hoping the victory brings a shot at Filipino superstar Pacquiao or Britain's Kell Brook, the International Boxing Federation champion who is 36-1 with 25 knockouts.