Danny Garcia on the pound-for-pound best: ‘I’m one of them’
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer rates Danny Garcia as boxing's third-best fighter behind pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Andre Ward, and Garcia agrees.
"I think that Richard is accurate. I fought the best. I never turned down a fight, and I beat the best," said Garcia, during a Wednesday conference call.
"I think that the pound-for-pound list is about fighting the best and beating the best, and like he said, there are a few good fighters out there who did it, and I'm one of them."
Garcia (27-0, 16 knockouts) will be in action again on March 15 in Puerto Rico, defending his RING and WBC belts against Mauricio Herrera (20-3, 7 KO) on Showtime.
Mayweather is THE RING's No. 1-rated fighter overall followed by Ward. Schaefer likes Garcia, next.
"Obviously, he's the unified world champion, and currently clearly the No. 1-rated super lightweight boxer in the world. But in my book, after Floyd and Andre Ward, I believe that there is Danny because of what Danny has achieved, cumulative, fight after fight," said Schaefer.
"When you do that fight after fight after fight, I really believe that the pound-for-pound list is reserved for exactly people like that…One guy that has earned it is Danny Garcia, and I think that Danny Garcia today, on my list, is No. 3, pound-for-pound."
A 25-year-old Philadelphia native, Garcia was last in the ring for a unanimous decision over Lucas Matthysse in the co-featured bout to Mayweather's majority decision over Canelo Alvarez last September.
Among his past seven wins, Garcia owns decisions over former titleholders Zab Judah, Kendall Holt, Nate Campbell and Erik Morales, as well as stoppage victories over Morales and former beltholder Amir Khan.
"Obviously, what Danny Garcia has achieved in the last few years, I think that there is no fighter in any weight class who has done that outside of Andre Ward and Floyd Mayweather, and that is taking on the best," said Schaefer.
Garcia fought as an overwhelming underdog against both Khan and Matthysse. A poll of RingTV.com's experts chose Khan to defeat Garcia by a vote of 20-to-1, while the insiders selected Matthysse over Garcia by a margin of 30-4.
"Danny went in as the underdog, and people were not giving him much respect. But I think that all of that changed in his last performance against Lucas Matthysse, I think that he made everybody believers, and, that is what is particularly impressive," said Schaefer.
"The fastest guy in the sport may be Amir Khan, and he neutralized that speed. He was confused maybe in the first few rounds, but he adjusted, adapted and dominated the fight. He took away the power the biggest puncher, maybe, in the sport, Lucas Matthysse, and he took away the experience of two of the most experienced fighters today next to Bernard Hopkins in Zab Judah and Eric Morales. This guy knows how to deal with speed at the highest level, and with power at the highest level, and with experience at the highest level."
WHAT ABOUT MAYWEATHER-GARCIA?
In the aftermath of his triumph over Matthysse, Garcia became a candidate for an eventual bout with Mayweather.
Since then, said Schaefer, interest in a Mayweather-Garcia fight has only increased.
"As it relates to Floyd, I'm getting more and more questions like, 'Hey, is Danny going to fight Floyd?' So there's more and more excitement building up about that fight," said Schaefer.
"So, assuming that Floyd handles the challenges ahead of him, do I believe that maybe sometime next year, or maybe a year from now, Cinco de Mayo in 2015, assuming Floyd keeps on winning, that we may see a Floyd-Danny Garcia fight? Absolutely. I can just imagine how much of an anticipated showdown that will be. He's young and he's going to be ready, and if the opportunity would have been today, he would fight him today. But, everything in its time."
But neither Garcia nor his father and trainer, Angel Garcia, has pushed for the bout with Maywather, who, like Garcia, is advised by Al Haymon.
"I'll let Al Haymon do what he does, and I'll let Richard do what they do," said Garcia. "We weren't really pressing for the fight. We just let Golden Boy do their job and we let Al do his job. I never question what Al does and I never question what my team does. You know, I'm a boxer at the end of the day, and I like to fight the best.
"Hopefully, the fight may happen one day…I'm still young, I'm 25 years old, I'm still growing, and I'm building my own legacy."
GARCIA RE-ASSERTS: 'I'M A PUERTO RICAN FIGHTER'
Although Puerto Rico has no reigning boxing world titleholders, Garcia has declared himself "a proud Puerto Rican." Angel Garcia was born in Puerto Rico, and has adamantly emphasized his son's sentiment during the promotion leading up to the bout with Herrera.
"I don't think that it's fair that you say that I'm not a Puerto Rican fighter because I'm wasn't born in Puerto Rico when my blood is Puerto Rican. So, I have to let the fans know that, 'Hey, I'm a Puerto Rican fighter,' and that's just the way that it is," said Garcia, adding that he was been embraced by Puerto Rican fans.
"They love me. They can't wait until I go there. They call me and they tell me every day, people from Puerto Rico that they love me and that they're excited for the fight and that they can't wait for the fight. There's no doubt in my mind that people in Puerto Rico are going to be there for me that night. This fight on March 15 will solidify me as a Puerto Rican champion."
In addition to a WBC heavyweight eliminator bout between 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Deontay Wilder and Malik Scott, the Garcia-Herrera card boasts a 130-pound rematch between Puerto Rico's Juan Manuel Lopez and fellow two-division titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon.
In June of 2008, Ponce de Leon was stopped in the first round by Lopez, who took his WBO junior featherweight title.
"It's great to have another Puerto Rican fighter and another Puerto Rican star on the card, so it's going to be a great night of boxing and it's going to be a great night for the Puerto Ricans," said Garcia, who idolized the island nation's former champion, Felix Trinidad.
"I was a Trinidad fans as a little kid. I've seen all of his fights. I've seen Miguel Cotto's whole career, and I've seen JuanMa's career. I've seen a lot of the great Puerto Rican fighters. I've always been a fan of the Puerto Rican fighters, and I'm happy to be one myself."
HERRERA SAYS HE HAS THE FORMULA TO BEAT GARCIA
Herrera, 33, has won his last two fights after having lost consecutive unanimous decisions to Mike Alvarado and Karim Mayfield in 2012. He also owns a unanimous-decision victory over current WBO 140-pound beltholder Ruslan Provodnikov from 2011.
"I felt that with the Provodnikov fight, that was a close fight, but that I had landed the most punches. I felt comfortable by the 12th round that I was going to take it. Provodnikov felt that I won, and that I was the better man that night, and that I outsmarted him," said Herrera. Provodnikov stopped Alvarado in ten rounds last October.
"With Alvarado, that was a different fight, and I fought a different style with him. We went in there and tried to push him back, and fought a bigger, tougher guy and a brawler with him. I thought that fight was pretty close, too. Alvarado missed a lot of shots and I felt that it was his turf, his promotion, and only one judge gave me one round. I figured that I had no chance. You could see the way that they were judging that I wasn't going to get that decision. It could have gone either way."
Against Garcia, Herrera said that his unique style will enable him to do against Garcia what Matthysse, Khan, Judah, Morales, Holt and Campbell could not.
"I don't think that it takes a really tough guy and a big name to beat Danny. It could just be a guy like me, who has some skills and some smartness in there and an awkward style that can defeat Danny, and that's what I'm really confident about. I think that the biggest difference between me and those guys is that a lot of those guys had an amateur background," said Herrera.
"I don't have a big amateur background, so I don't throw all of the basic punches and I don't have the basic rhythms that those guys have that Danny's used to seeing. I'm a little awkward on my shots, and I throw with power sometimes, and sometimes I have no power. Sometimes I can go with speed, or I can go inside, or I can control distance. I'm hard to hit sometimes. I think that all of that will make a big difference from those fights and against me."
Herrera's trainer, Willie Silva, believes that Garcia is in for a big surprise on March 15.
"Danny Garcia has never faced a guy like Mauricio Herrera," said Silva. "It's going be a nightmare for him that night."