Familiarity, Opportunity, Rivalry Surround Garcia-Porter

A chance to stake a claim as a true king in boxing’s welterweight division awaits Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter on Sept. 8, when the two clash over the vacant WBC Welterweight Title.

Garcia has formerly held the WBC’s 147-pound gold, as well as unified gold at 140 pounds. Garcia was undefeated, holding victories over the likes of Erik Morales, Amir Khan, Zab Judah and Lucas Matthysse while on top of the light welterweights before stepping up a weight class. He then defeated Robert Guerrero in January 2016 to win the WBC Welterweight Title but lost it to Keith Thurman in a March 2017 WBA/WBC title unification bout.

“This is a very important fight for me,” Garcia said at the open workouts. “This fight is an opportunity to prove that I’m still one of the best fighters in the world. I’m coming to get my belt back.”

Garcia rebounded from the loss to Thurman by returning to the ring in February and securing a ninth-round knockout victory over Brandon Rios. Following the fight, he was confronted in the ring by Porter, and the trash talk fired. The path to the fight continued after Thurman surrendered the WBC Title in April, allowing for the sanctioning body to mandate Garcia and Porter fight for the title.

But while some of the hype behind this fight has to do with the trash talk from February, the fighters also match up stylistically.

“Shawn’s style is exactly what I like to go up against,” Garcia said. “I want him to come forward and walk into my counter punching. I have power in both hands and I’m going to make him feel it. If he comes and opens up, I’m going to land a clean shot early. If he can’t recover, then I’m going to have a chance to finish him. I’m going to dictate the pace and fight my fight.
“I’m ready for anything. I’m prepared to fight backwards, forwards or whatever I need to do. I have to set the tempo and dominate. Shawn is very hungry, so it’s important for me to be smart and pick my spots. I know he’s going to try to jab his way in. Shorter guys like him tend to go to the body too.
He has skills but I’ve had great preparation to be ready for any of it. We have some stuff up our sleeve.

Like Thurman, Porter has been an unbeaten welterweight champion before, winning the IBF Title from Devon Alexander back in December 2013. Porter made a successful April 2014 title defense against Paulie Malignaggi but lost the title to Kell Brook four months later. He received a shot at Thurman and the WBA Title in June 2016 but came up short once again.

“This is a huge fight. It’s the biggest fight of my career and my life,” Porter said at open workouts. “I’ve been doing this since I was eight and I can’t think of an opportunity that I’ve wanted more in my life. This is my Super Bowl.

Both men have been training under the tutelage of their fathers, and that distinctive common part of both men has sanctioned the WBC to give the winning boxer’s trainer/father a special WBC Trainer’s Belt.

Porter says he expects Garcia to have studied the Brook fight to figure out how to stop him from coming inside, and he thinks Garcia will try to hold more than Brook did.

But Porter says he’s also studied Garcia closely and doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary.

“I’m not looking for any surprises on Saturday. I’m very familiar with his game plan and what he does well,” Porter said. “I expect to use my speed, box from the outside, be aggressive and win the fight.

“I think that my ability to mix it up is going to create a problem for him. The variance in my styles and punches is going to be too much for him. I’m going to keep him on his toes, keep him guessing and keep him off balance. That’s the key to winning Saturday.

I just don’t think Danny can handle me. He says I’m tailor-made for him, but we’ll see on Saturday night.
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