When Danny Garcia steps into the ring Saturday night vs. Robert Guerrero for a vacant welterweight title in Fox’s first primetime fight card in nearly 20 years, he’ll be about a 9/1 favorite. He’s the undefeated former junior welterweight titlist who has notched big wins in his career vs. Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse and Paulie Malignaggi, and though he’s not currently considered a top-10 pound-for-pound fighter, the talent and potential is there.
But there’s also a sense of disappointment that surrounds Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs). After mowing down the dangerous Matthysse in September of 2013 to defend his unified title, he barely escaped with a majority decision against the unheralded Mauricio Herrera before knocking out the overmatched Rod Salka. Then, unable to make the 140-pound junior welterweight limit, he moved up to welterweight where he looked uneven in winning another majority decision against Lamont Peterson before knocking out the faded Malignaggi.
Even his match vs. Guerrero (33-3-1, 18 KOs) hasn’t gotten much positive press, because even though Guerrero won titles as a featherweight and a super featherweight, he’s never beaten an elite fighter (with the possible exception of Joel Casamayor, who was at the end of his standout career during their 2010 match). Guerrero also has lost two of his last four fights. Sure, those two defeats came at the hands of Floyd Mayweather and Keith Thurman, but in his last bout, Guerrero narrowly beat Aron Martinez though plenty of observers believe Martinez had won.
Yet, despite all that, Saturday’s fight could be compelling for a primetime audience. Here are three reasons why this fight, despite all the apparent deficiencies, could be a fun one to watch.
1) Garcia says he feels better at 147 pounds than he did at 140: It’s apparent that it became a struggle for Garcia, listed at 5-foot-8, to make the junior welterweight limit, so even though he was the recognized champion of the division, he began inching his way up in weight 17 months ago. While Malignaggi is past his prime, the fact Garcia stopped him in the ninth round showed that he could carry his power into a heavier weight class. The step-up in weight for the 27-year-old, he said, has been good for him. “When I fought at 140, I was always mean while trying to cut weight. I was never in a good mood. I think that’s why a lot of times I would go in there and just fight,” Garcia said. “But now I’m able to think more; I’m able to be a lot smarter. My punches are crispier and my stamina is better. I’m able to run more miles, train harder, more endurance. I may have had the energy at 140, [but] at 147, I just feel a lot stronger.”
2) Can Guerrero turn his career around at the age of 32, or is he teetering on the brink of retirement?: Guerrero was never truly an elite fighter, but in his past few outings, he’s looked like he’s at the nadir of his career and might soon be better off retiring. He was badly outclassed by Mayweather in 2013 and nearly shut out by Thurman last March. Though Martinez — who’s fighting the undefeated Sammy Vasquez on the undercard tonight — wasn’t expected to be a problem for Guerrero last June, this is what happened in the fourth round.