Robert Guerrero believes he’ll get the best of Danny Garcia in their title fight on January 23 for a number of reasons. The fact he’s had more experience fighting at 147 pounds is not one of them.
“I fought at 122 pounds a few times early in my career, so I’m naturally the smaller guy,” says Guerrero, a former world champ at 126 and 130 pounds, and an interim titleholder at 135 and 147. “People seem to forget that I jumped up several weight classes to fight at . It’s an evenly matched fight as far as weight.”
Robert Guerrero made the jump from 135 to 147 pounds back in July 2012, and his upcoming title bout with Danny Garcia at Staples Center in Los Angeles (Fox, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) will mark his seventh consecutive contest in the weight class.
Conversely, Garcia has spent most of his pro career fighting at 140 pounds—where he won a world title—and as heavy as 144 pounds until August, when he defeated Paulie Malignaggi in his first bout at 147. The fight against Guerrero will be his second in the division.
“Garcia’s coming up in weight. But again, he started off at a higher weight than I did,” says Guerrero, who turns 33 on March 27, a week after Garcia’s 28th birthday. “I’ve been here for a few fights, but I don’t think my size will be a factor.”
If you believe Guerrero’s father and trainer, Ruben Guerrero, Garcia’s lack of experience at 147 could be trumped by the possibility that the Philadelphia native is simply a better and stronger fighter at the higher weight.
“Sometimes, fighters need that extra weight to become more powerful,” Ruben Guerrero says. “Against Paulie, Garcia showed he can bring up his power, and he might actually be a stronger puncher at this weight. We must respect his power.”
Malignaggi, a former two-division champ at 140 and 147 pounds, represented the 10th current or former titleholder Garcia has beaten in his past 11 fights, an impressive list that includes Erik Morales (twice), Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, Zab Judah, Nate Campbell and Kendall Holt.
Of those boxers, all but Campbell, Holt and Malignaggi—who lost via ninth-round TKO—hit the canvas against Garcia, with Salka and Khan each getting flattened three times.
“ We all know Danny Garcia is a big, strong puncher, but so am I. All it takes is one punch. ” Robert Guerrero
Despite those knockdowns, Garcia says he noticed a lack of intensity and steam on his punches when he challenged Mauricio Herrera in March 2014 in his final bout at 140 and Lamont Peterson in April at 143 pounds. He won both fights by narrow majority decisions.
“When I fought at 140, I was always mean while trying to cut weight,” Garcia says. “A lot of times I would go in there and just fight. I wasn’t feeling strong anymore [at 140].
“I'm happier now. I'm able to think more, be a lot smarter, my punches are crisper, my stamina’s better. … I feel a lot stronger.”
You would think that would spell trouble for Guerrero, who has struggled to stay on his feet of late. He went down in the ninth round before losing a unanimous decision to Keith Thurman in March, then hit the canvas in the fourth round against Aron Martinez in June, although he rallied to win a split decision.
But while cognizant of Garcia’s power, Guerrero is confident he can avoid it, in part because he’ll have a two-inch reach advantage despite yielding a half-inch in height to the 5-foot-8½ Garcia.
“We all know Danny Garcia is a big, strong puncher, but so am I. All it takes is one punch,” says Guerrero, who has never been knocked out as a pro. “I’m a different fighter with a different style. I feel I can do a lot of things that will give him problems. On fight night, you’ll see what those things are.”
If nothing else, Guerrero can at least lean on the fact that Garcia, despite his unblemished record, hasn’t been completely invincible. In addition to barely escaping Peterson and Herrera, Garcia’s decisions over Judah and Matthysse, while unanimous, were tight despite the knockdowns.
Still, Guerrero insists he’s preparing for the Garcia who dominated Malignaggi.
“He’s been in some close fights … but you’re as good as your last fight,” Guerrero says. “He cracked the wall through a division, now it’s time to step in with me.
“We put a great game plan together, and we're excited to get out there and execute it.”
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