Danny Garcia held world titles at 140 pounds from early 2012 right up until June. That’s when it became clear that the two catchweight fights he’d most recently contested weren’t an aberration, but rather steps on the path to 147.
Robert Guerrero, who won world titles at 126 and 130 pounds, came up short in his most recent try for a championship at 147 when he fell to Keith Thurman in March. It was his second failed grab at the brass ring, the first coming in his 2013 showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Now that same title that Guerrero couldn't wrestle from Mayweather is up for grabs, thanks to the latter’s retirement.
Two men used to wearing the crown—one looking for a little bit of redemption, the other looking to prove he’s every bit as capable in this new division as he was in his old one.
It’s a world championship fight that has all the ingredients to be a pivotal dance in two careers come Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles (Fox, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
Both men weighed in at 146.8 pounds Friday afternoon. After Garcia made a show of kissing his right fist and both biceps, both fighers' fathers/trainers—Angel Garcia and Ruben Guerrero—exhanged words yet again. Robert Guerrero, who had remained placid through Danny Garcia's show, fired out a stern warning: "This is what I do. I come to fight. You see that '0'? It must go."
For Danny Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs), this isn't just a chance to protect that perfect record. It's a chance to test himself against another veteran 147-pounder, one who showed through his fights against Thurman, Yoshihiro Kamegai and Aron Martinez a metric ton of resiliency, heart and a chin to match.
Guerrero (33-3-1, 18 KOs) also presents Garcia something he hasn’t had to deal with since facing Zab Judah in 2013: a southpaw. And lefties can give Garcia some measure of challenge when it comes to his most vaunted weapon: his left hook.
“It’s a different angle, it’s a different look,” Garcia says. “But to me, it’s the same thing. I’ve just got to go in there and use my jab, use my angles and back them up. I like fighting southpaws, actually.”
He might like it, but whether he’ll enjoy fighting this particular southpaw is another matter entirely. Guerrero has lost twice in his last four outings, and in his two wins, he went to war with Kamegai and had to rally to overcome a game Martinez, who was winning the fight handily through the first four rounds.
When the losses start coming in bunches, it can make a man desperate.
Guerrero is hungry as can be, and Garcia is well aware of it.
“I’ve just got to go in there and be mentally and physically prepared for whatever,” Garcia says. “I’ve got to make adjustments. I know it’s probably going to be do-or-die for him, so I can't let him take anything away from me.”
Both men have shown a recent tendency to start slow. Guerrero didn’t seem to wake up until Martinez had him out on his feet in the fourth. In Garcia's last two fights against Lamont Peterson and Paulie Malignaggi, the Philadelphia native took until the middle rounds to warm up and impose his will.
The outcome of this fight could depend on who gets out of the blocks faster.
Guerrero admitted after the Martinez fight that he was too intent on wading in and brawling. He’s says he needs to get back to the blueprint that got him to the big time in the first place, and fight a more controlled fight.
Whichever Guerrero shows up, Garcia insists he’ll be ready.
“Whatever he brings to the table, I feel like I’m prepared for it,” he says. “I can box. It’s not a big issue.
"I’m a better boxer, I’m a better banger, I have a great chin and I have a big heart. I just feel like I’m a bigger puncher than him. I’m just a better fighter.”
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