Garcia outpoints game Guerrero, wins vacant WBC welterweight title
LOS ANGELES – Robert Guerrero was viewed as a decided underdog going into his welterweight bout against Danny Garcia on Saturday at Staples Center.
The prevailing thought among fans and media was that the 32-year-old veteran from Gilroy, California, had been in too many grueling ring battles during his 14-year pro career, and thus, ripe for the taking by the heavy-handed unbeaten former junior welterweight champ from Philadelphia.
However, Guerrero proved to have enough fight left to give Garcia a stern challenge over 12 punishing rounds. Garcia (32-0, 18 knockouts), the stronger and smarter fighter over the second half of the Fox-televised card, won a decision by unanimous scores of 116-112 but the 27-year-old boxer-puncher had to earn it.
Garcia picked up the vacant WBC title, and thus becomes a player in the crowded 147-pound division, but in the early going it looked like he had bitten off more than he could chew with the grizzled southpaw.
Guerrero (33-4-1, 18 KOs) was the aggressor from the opening bell, landing jabs, straight lefts (to the body and head) and right hooks. Through the first four rounds of the fight, he made Garcia miss and kept the odds favorite backing up, occasionally swarming the Philly fighter along the ropes.
Whenever Garcia landed a big counterpunch or flush potshot, Guerrero answered back with three and four punches. But just when it seemed as though Garcia was on his way to being outhustled, the younger fighter found his groove with his hit-and-move tactics in Rounds 5 and 6. He continued to throw a single power shot and backpedal away but he finally found his range against Guerrero and was able to make the gutsy lefty miss.
“I was throwing my combinations, using my legs like my dad told me to do,” Garcia said after the fight “I knew he was going to come to fight. He’s a rugged warrior.”
Garcia landed flush bombs to the chin that would have stopped or dropped most fighters during the late rounds, but Guerrero somehow doggedly walked through them. Still, his frustration was evident. By Rounds 9, 10 and 11, Guerrero was reduced to lunging and mauling on the inside.
However, in final round Garcia settled down enough for the two to engage in extended exchanges, to the delight of Guerrero and the crowd of 12,052 fans.
Guerrero was game and gritty to be the bitter end. He was also convinced that he won the fight.
“I pressured him, I nailed him, busted his body up,” Guerrero said. “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.”
Guerrero will have to get in line for another shot at Garcia, who could defend his new WBC title against that sanctioning body’s No. 1 contender, former foe Amir Khan, or he could position himself for a unification about against the winner of the recently announced WBA title bout between beltholder Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter.
Garcia, Khan, Thurman and Porter all fight under the Premier Boxing Champions banner.
“I’m back where I belong,” Garcia said. “I am now a two-division world champion.”