Garcia and Guerrero both deserve plaudits: Weekend Review
Danny Garcia: Garcia just keeps rolling. The former junior welterweight titleholder met fierce resistance from Robert Guerrero as the two battled for the vacant WBC welterweight title before 12,052 Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles. And, keep I mind, it was Garcia’s first fight as a full-fledged 147-pounder. No problem. Garcia patiently played the counterpunching sharpshooter against his hard-charging opponent, particularly after he got his timing down around the fifth round. He didn’t land an unusually large number of punches but his long-range shots to the head were the most telling blows of the fight: Garcia outlanded Guerrero 156-87 in power punches, according to CompuBox. That’s why Garcia walked away with a unanimous-decision victory – 116-112 on all cards – and the title belt. The Puerto Rican-American (32-0, 18 knockouts) has remained unbeaten even though he has faced a string of top-tier opponents the past several years, which is impressive any way you look at it. Will his run continue at 147? It won’t be easy in a deep division, which includes the likes of Amir Khan, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and the fast-rising Errol Spence, all of whom share PBC as a promoter. I thought the Garcia who beat Guerrero could compete with any of the above. He looked quick and fit and boxed well. I wonder about his power at 147 given the number of point-blank shots he landed without scoring a knockout but that might have more to do with Guerrero’s durability than anything else. Garcia has always found ways to win fights. He did it again against a determined opponent on Saturday. And no one should be shocked if he continues to do it going forward.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Robert Guerrero: We should’ve known better than to write off Guerrero. Yes, the former two-division titleholder has been in a number of taxing wars in his eight-year career. And, yes, he was only 2-2 in his last four fights (losing one-sided decisions to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Keith Thurman) going into Saturday. That’s why he was as much as a 10-1 underdog. Fools. No one considered the heart of this warrior. Guerrero, 32, has ability, experience, a sturdy chin and unshakable belief in himself, a formula that has served him well throughout his career and can still give top-level opponents problems. Garcia learned that on Saturday. Guerrero looked anything but shot, attacking with passion and considerable effectiveness. He won only four rounds (Rounds 1, 4, 10 and 12 on two cards, Rounds 1, 4, 5 and 12 on the third) but kept the pressure on a younger, undefeated opponent who many believed would dominate him. Garcia acknowledged afterward that he had to dig deep. Of course, Guerrero was disappointed after the decision was announced; he said repeatedly at a lively post-fight news conference that “I won that fight” and he wants a rematch. I don’t see that happening because Garcia has his sights set on bigger prey but one could argue it would be justified. Whatever happens, Guerrero (33-4-1, 18 KOs) earned another shot at a top 147-pounder if that’s what he wants. Not bad for a fighter who started as a featherweight 15 years ago and was all but dismissed going into his fight on Saturday. I personally have nothing but admiration for him.
The two televised fights that preceded Garcia-Guerrero had strange endings. Dominic Breazeale is fortunate he remains undefeated after his fight against Amir Mansour. The 6-foot-7 U.S. Olympian went down hard in the third round and had lost the first three rounds on all cards. To his credit, Breazeale survived, won the fourth and landed some vicious shots in a dominating fifth. Then, suddenly, it was over. Mansour (22-2-1, 16 KOs) complained that his jaw was injured – apparently it was broken – and didn’t come out for the fifth. Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs) deserves credit: He kept his composure after going down and bounced back to win the fight. That said, he looked vulnerable. Then, in the subsequent fight, Sammy Vasquez (21-0, 15 KOs) was outboxing Aron Martinez (20-5-1, 4 KOs) when Martinez couldn’t come out for the seventh round in a WBC welterweight title eliminator, giving Vasquez a TKO victory. Martinez said he injured his left elbow around the third round. Vasquez is a quick, skillful boxer but it remains to be seen whether he can hang with the top welterweights. It was bad break for Martinez, who was coming off a breakthrough upset of Devon Alexander. ÔÇª Middleweight prospect Rob Brant (19-0, 12 KOs) gave us an early KO of the Year candidate on Friday in Tucson, Arizona, where he knocked out Decarlo Perez (15-4-1, 5 KOs) with a brutal straight right hand. No count necessary. ÔÇª Powerful Las Vegas-based heavyweight Joseph Parker (18-0, 16 KOs) continued his ascent by stopping Jason Bergman (25-12-2, 16 KOs) in the eighth round Saturday in Samoa. I look forward to seeing how the 24-year-old Kiwi will fare against next-level opposition.