After going unbeaten in the light welterweight division, Danny Garcia has decided to make the jump to the next weight class. He’s set to take on Paulie Malignaggi at Barclays Center on Saturday night as part of his welterweight debut for Premier Boxing Champions.
Garcia, 27, has gone 30-0 in his professional boxing career. After easing past most of his division rivals, Garcia won his last two fights at a catch-weight of 142 pounds and 143 pounds, respectively. Now he’s set to face a former champion at the 147-pound limit.
“You’re going to see a lot more energy in the ring,” Garcia told reporters, regarding his move to welterweight.
“You’ll see a smarter fighter. I’ll have more agility and we’re going to go in there to get the job done. At the end of the day it’s about being 100 percent prepared. I did everything right this camp and I’m ready. The game plan is to go in there and be Danny Garcia and be spectacular.”
Having defeated the likes of Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse and Zab Judah, it looked like Garcia was set to become one of boxing’s next big stars. While he continues to stay undefeated, the quality of Garcia’s victories have forced him to receive his share of criticism.
Garcia’s last three victories have been somewhat underwhelming. He defeated both Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson in majority decisions, but some believed that the undefeated boxer didn’t do enough to win. Sandwiched in between those victories was a second-round knockout of Rod Salka, who didn’t belong in the same ring as Garcia.
Malignaggi will be no pushover. He was a welterweight champ entering his fight against Shawn Porter in April 2014, and he’ll have the backing of his hometown Brooklyn crowd. But Malignaggi isn’t one of the top fighters in the division, and Garcia is expected to win decisively.
Porter knocked out Malignaggi in the fourth-round of their April 19 fight last year, giving him two losses in his last three fights. Malignaggi also lost a split decision to Adrien Broner in June 2013 at Barclays.
A win for Malignaggi might be considered the biggest upset of 2015, considering he’s such a heavy underdog. Bovada.lv gives Garcia -1200 betting odds to get the win, and Malignaggi has +700 odds.
Malignaggi realizes that he hasn’t done enough in recent fights to warrant being the favorite, but he isn’t counting himself out.
“I think justifiably Danny is the favorite,” Malignanggi told PIX11 in New York. “But can Paulie win the fight? Absolutely.”
Three of Malignaggi’s losses have come via knockout, but there’s a good chance he’ll be able to go the distance on Saturday. Garcia has 17 knockouts in 30 fights, but four of his last five wins have come by decision.
Prediction: Garcia by unanimous decision