With Floyd Mayweather retired and Manny Pacquiao ready to call it quits in just a few months, Danny Garcia is looking to become boxing’s top welterweight. The undefeated fighter takes another step towards his ultimate goal on Saturday night when he faces Robert Guerrero at Staples Center.
Garcia last fought on Aug. 1, defeating Paulie Malignaggi with a ninth-round TKO in his welterweight debut. The 27-year-old improved his career record to 31-0, but his star isn’t nearly as bright as it was a few years ago. Less than impressive wins against Lamont Peterson and Mauricio Herrera, as well as a second-round knockout of the largely unknown Rod Salka have Garcia needing a convincing win against a legitimate opponent to prove that he’s a top pound-for-pound boxer.
Garcia's last big victory came two years ago when he defeated Lucas Matthysse to retain his junior welterweight championship. He has since vacated the belt, looking to win the vacant WBC welterweight title in Saturday’s fight.
''We should have went up right after Matthysse,'' Danny Garcia’s father and trainer, Angel Garcia, said. ''I wanted to do catch weight, I wanted to take my time with him. It didn't work out the way I thought it was going to work out. We still won, it wasn't like we lost.''
Odds makers and experts alike expect Garcia to win the first welterweight championship of his career. He’s a -800 favorite over Guerrero, who has +500 betting odds at Bovada.lv to pull off the upset.
Guerrero reached his peak in late 2012 when he defeated Andre Berto and earned a fight with Mayweather. But after giving Mayweather little trouble and losing a unanimous decision to Keith Thurman two fights later, Guerrero might not have much of a chance against Garcia. He won a 10-round split decision over Aaron Martinez in June.
While Garcia is confident that he will live up to expectations, Guerrero thinks the fight is bigger than some are making it out to be.
"The Garcia’s can try to downplay the Mexican vs. Puerto Rican rivalry all they want, but the fact is, this rivalry has been the cornerstone of great boxing matches since before I was born. We are both born in America, but our roots go back to Mexico and Puerto Rico, so expect the rivalry to continue. I can't wait to silence all the critics who are writing me off," Guerrero told reporters last week.
The winner of Saturday’s fight will go on to face Amir Khan, whom WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman says must get his title shot before June.
Garcia knocked out the aging Malignaggi in his first fight at 147 pounds, but four of his previous five bouts went the distance. It might be a one-sided fight, but there’s a good chance it’ll last all 12 rounds.
Prediction: Garcia by a majority decision