Former 140-lb king Danny Garcia snatched the vacant WBC welterweight belt in a well-battled fight against Robert Guerrero at the Staples Center in Los Angeles last weekend. The win cemented his championship status in two-divisions and now he enters a landscape left wide open by former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. While the broader public may not have heard of Garcia before, he might be someone they’ll hear of soon as the new generation of welterweights takes form.
When Garcia first broke through the mainstream against Erik Morales in 2012, I had my doubts. Though he thoroughly dominated the action, it was against a shell of the Mexican legend, and contested at a weight well above Morales’s prime. Technically speaking, Garcia looked robotic and one-dimensional, and I thought any prime contender with decent skill could beat a one-hit wonder. But Garcia went on to prove the contrary, racking up wins against the best names in the 140-lb division, unifying against Amir Khan and beating the Argentine powerhouse Lucas Matthyse. Outgrowing the division soon after, Gracia crept his way up through a number of catch-weight bouts before finally filling in as a full welterweight by knocking Paulie Malignaggi out last August. He is now a legitimate belt holder at 147 at only his second fight in the division.
Another fact worth noting is that the title fight took place on the Fox, the first time the broadcaster headlined a prime-time card since 1998. With Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Championship showing fights on NBC, ABC, CBS and now Fox, it appears as though boxing is beginning to make its way back to free network television, a move that will seemingly help reverse the decline of the sport since becoming exclusive to cable providers and pay-per-view. As one of the principle charges under the Haymon banner, Garcia will likely be seen more by the public eye.
Garcia won Saturday’s bout by scores of 116-112 on all three judges scorecards, a decision that appears to be agreed upon by most media analysts. Guerrero, however, felt otherwise.
"I want a rematch, and that's it," Guerrero said post-fight. "Not one person out there thought Danny won but his team. I pressured him, I nailed him, busted his body up. I out-jabbed him. I thought I won the fight. The crowd thought I won the fight. It was a great fight. I am happy, I'm healthy. I will be back. I thought I won the fight, and I definitely want a rematch.”
A second fight between the two is unlikely, however, as far more lucrative and entertaining bouts loom on the horizon. Perhaps the best bout for Garcia would be against the winner of the highly anticipated welterweight matchup between Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman. Porter is probably best known for being the second fighter to beat Adrien Broner, and Thurman is a hard-hitting rising star of the division, as well as the WBA titleholder. When asked of the prospects of a unification bout between him and Garcia, Thurman (who was commentating on the PBC boardcast), replied, “I would love to fight Garcia,” and in post-fight interviews had a lot to say regarding the legitimacy behind Garcia’s title shot. It appears as the though Thurman set the trash talking early.
Should Thurman get past Porter on March 12th, a possibility for a unification bout between two undefeated fighters in their prime would be on the table, and with both fighters being managed by Haymon, the politics too often seen in cross promotional negotiations would be avoided. Who knows, it might even be broadcasted on network television, and if it is, when’s the last time the public got to see a legitimate championship fight between two top contenders that was widely accessible to the public? It would certainly be a breath of fresh air for boxing.
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