Danny Garcia out to prove himself vs. Shawn Porter, who simply doesn’t like his foe
LOS ANGELES — Shawn Porter is always quick with a smile and a handshake.
He’s respectful of his opponents; even complimentary. But there’s something about Danny Garcia he just doesn’t like. Porter can’t quite put his finger on it. Is it his demeanor? Nah. What about the way he looks? It’s not that either. Porter, for one reason or another, simply doesn’t care for Garcia.
And that’s OK. Garcia is the man standing in the way of Porter’s quest to once again reclaim a welterweight title, and jump into the mix for a high-stakes showdown with pound-for-pound entrant Errol Spence Jr.
Porter (28-2-1, 17 knockouts) lost his status as 147-pound titleholder when Keith Thurman eked out a decision win over him in June 2016. A victory over Garcia on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York (9 p.m. ET, Showtime), and Porter will have secured the biggest win of his career. They’re competing for a title vacated by Thurman, who hasn’t fought since March 2017 while batting injuries to his hand and elbow.
“I don’t even know why (I don’t like Garcia); I’m still trying to figure it out,” Porter, 30, says during an interview with The Ring. His father and trainer, Kenny Porter, has never heard his son say anything like that before. “There ain’t too many people in this world that rub me the wrong way, but there’s just something about him.”
Garcia, with his bushy eyebrows, lined-up fade hairstyle and flashy clothing, exudes confidence that borders on cockiness. Still, he’s soft-spoken; it’s his loud-mouth father and trainer, Angel, who does most of the trash-talking for him. Really it’s the patriarch of the Garcia clan that’s caught the ire of boxing fans, and trickled onto Danny himself.
The former two-division titleholder hails from the fighting city of Philadelphia, and his impressive power should have endeared him to the boxing public. His victories over Amir Khan and Lucas Matthysse proved he was an elite practitioner. But boxing fans on Twitter still hoped and prayed for his demise.
His defeat to Thurman in March 2017 was the first of his professional career. Despite all his success, a second loss in just three fights would be damaging.
“People hate greatness, right? That’s probably the only reason why; it’s gotta be jealousy,” Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) says to The Ring. “It feels different for the first time in my career. I’ll be trying to reclaim a title so I feel like I’m a prospect again and I have to go in there and prove myself.
“I feel like every fight now is to cement my legacy in the sport of boxing.”
The fight could be framed as the consolation bracket between men who were outpointed by Thurman, The Ring’s top-rated welterweight. Porter enters the fighter with a No. 4 ranking at 147 pounds, while Garcia languishes behind at No. 6.
The elite of boxing’s most talent-division is comprised of Thurman, Spence and Terence Crawford. Either Garcia or Porter will join them with a convincing victory.
“You’re going to see greatness come out,” Porter promises.
“If he opens up, it might be over in under five rounds,” Garcia predicts.
The matchup presents a compelling clash of styles. Porter fights with the adrenaline of a frat boy chugging red bull and vodkas at the homecoming tailgate. His relentless, hard-charging style suffocates opponents; your cardio better be on point if you’re going to fend him off.
Garcia is one of the best counter-punchers in the game, the perfect elixir to defeat non-stop pressure. His shots are delivered with uncanny accuracy, and he showed in his last bout that it’s not just the devastating left hook that can end the fight.
A perfectly placed right hand on the chin of a shopworn version of Brandon Rios ended matters swiftly in Round 9 of their February meeting.
“I’ve seen Danny Garcia fight five different ways in his career; I’ve only seen him fight one way,” Garcia says, espousing the first-person manner of speaking that hasn’t exactly endeared himself to fans. “I have to go in there and set the pace, set the tempo; go in there and just be Danny Garcia.
“I’ve grown a lot over the years as a boxer. Everybody knows I’m mentally strong. (The loss to Thurman) only gave me more motivation to train harder. I feel like I’m better and I’m a lot smarter and it’s going to show fight night.”
When Garcia was fielding questions from Showtime’s Jim Gray after he separated Rios from his senses, Porter suddenly was in the ring. He lives and trains in Las Vegas (though he hails from Akron, Ohio), and couldn’t pass up an opportunity to coax his desired future foe into accepting the fight.
“I’ve been wanting to bang this out with him for a long time now,” acknowledges Porter, who’s been publicly lobbying for the matchup for more than a year-and-a-half.
“He doesn’t have the resume that I have. He hasn’t been up against the toughest of the toughest, even with fighting Keith Thurman. We saw a lower-level Keith Thurman fight him. I just think that, top to bottom, it’s my fight to take.
Porter pored over YouTube videos of the Thurman-Garcia fight, “a little bit of a learning experience of what I can do to beat Danny.”
And if Garcia expects Porter to fight the same way he always has, he could be in for a surprise.
“People say he’s a great counter-puncher; people say he’s good at punching second. I agree with that,” Porter says. “If anything, using the speed, the power, not giving him enough room to think and create counter-punching (opportunities), I think those are the keys to the fight.
“I think the No. 1 thing is not to allow him to create a rhythm; not to allow him to use his patience and be comfortable in the ring. I think if I do that — apply my pressure, but also apply some good foot movement from the outside as well, I think the fight will take care of itself and I’ll become the champion.”
Whoever comes out on top, Spence will be waiting for a welterweight title unification fight next year.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger