Saturday evenings Premier Boxing Champions showcase at the Staples Center in Los Angeles promises to deliver one of the best fights of 2016 when the undefeated Puerto Rican sensation from Philadelphia, Danny “Swift” Garcia, takes on former world champion and Mexican warrior Robert “The Ghost’ Guerrero in a welterweight world title battle.
The scheduled 12-round showdown headlines a Premier Boxing Champions card that will be televised live on Fox at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT.
(Photo Credit: premierboxingchampions.com)
In 2012 Garcia began his emergence as one of the fight game’s best young prospects when he captured the 140-pound WBC and WBA titles by beating the future Hall of Famer Erik Morales and by shockingly knocking out Amir Khan as well.
We’ve previously chronicled the rich legacy of Puerto Rican boxers, and Danny Garcia, in addition to representing the great fighting tapestry of the city of Philadelphia, also stands tall for the people of Puerto Rico.
That’s a duel-edged weight of responsibility that not many can carry, but thus far in his career, the undefeated Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs) looks like he’s ready to become one of boxing’s biggest stars.
We sat down with him to get some insight on his preparation and state of mind heading into this welterweight championship fight with Robert Guerrero, a fight that many feel has the potential to be a memorable war and another great chapter that will be added to the Mexican vs Puerto Rican boxing rivalry.
The Shadow League: How has training been going for this big welterweight championship fight against Guerrero?
Danny Garcia: Training camp went great. We did what we had to do. All the hard work is done and we put everything on the line for this fight. I’m just ready to go there and perform on Saturday.
TSL: What has the thought process been over these last few fights? You’ve taken every tough challenge as opposed to going the safe route. The last seven guys you’ve faced have over 230 combined victories and you’ve been in against many fighters who’ve been world champions. How has that prepared you for these next steps you’re taking in the welterweight division?
DG: It’s definitely been a tough task. Every day, me and my dad are mentally and physically preparing ourselves so that no one can beat us. Once you believe that no one can beat you, you’ll go in the ring expecting great results, so that’s something we always believe in.
TSL: Talk about your last fight with Paulie Malignaggi, because some people were surprised by how dominant you were against him. It was a very one-sided contest and you seemed so driven. What does that experience do for your confidence moving forward?
DG: Aw man, just like for this fight, I was very motivated. That was my first fight at 147 pounds, so I know how to go in there and become the top guy in the welterweight division. That’s how I’m approaching this fight. I’m ready to go in there and dominate.
TSL: Hardcore boxing fans know and love your style. With this fight being on FOX, more casual fans will be seeing you for the first time. Explain to the folks who might be seeing you for the first time, and don’t yet understand the magnificence of Danny Garcia, what they are going to see when they watch you go to work in the ring.
DG: From the walk into the ring through the actual performance, they’re going to see something different. They’re going to see style, explosiveness, technique, skills and character, among other things. We’re just going to go in there and be great. That’s the game plan, to be great and win over all of the fans around the world.
TSL: What kind of a challenge is Robert Guerrero going to present to you?
DG: He’s a very tough veteran who has been in the ring with a lot of great fighters. We’ve prepared ourselves for a 12-round fight. He wants to win this fight, so we’re coming in to execute a very smart fight. We are not taking him lightly and will have to be on our “A” game.
TSL: Guerrero has been in some down-and-dirty brawls. People are using the words “War” and “Historic” in trying describe how this fight could turn out. There’s also the Puerto Rican vs Mexican rivalry that’s in the mix as well. Why are people so excited about this matchup, calling it a potential Fight of the Year candidate?
DG: I come to fight and he comes to fight, so it’s all about how the fight turns out. Me and my dad have a great game plan going in and we’re just going to go in and execute the game plan.
TSL: You’re now the guy who is carrying the torch for the fighting city of Philadelphia on the biggest boxing stage in the world. How does it feel to you, knowing the great history and the aura around a great Philly fighter, and knowing that as you come into your prime, you’re the guy representing that great reputation and history?
DG: That’s the torch that I’ve been trusted to carry. It’s an extreme honor. The most recent guy was Bernard Hopkins, a middleweight champion with 20 title defenses. He unified the light heavyweight titles and became the oldest fighter to ever win a world championship. Those are some big shoes to fill. He’s a great champion. Now I’m the next guy coming out of Philadelphia. I unified the 140-pound division and I’m going into this fight to begin the unification of the 147-pound division. This fight is the start of me going into the record books in Philly and the larger boxing world.
TSL: This is only your second fight at 147. Some people say that Guerrero is much more comfortable there because he’s been fighting at that weight for some time. What would be your response to someone who says you would be at a disadvantage because of that?
DG: To be honest with you, I feel like I should have been moved up to 147. I feel like I’m the naturally bigger and stronger guy. Fighting at this weight has only made me stronger and it’s forced me to train harder. If anything, I feel like it gives me the advantage. I’m younger, I’m fresher, I don’t have to worry about cutting so much weight which forces you to be weak on the night of the fight. I’m ready for whatever.
TSL: This fight is taking place in Los Angeles, the city where stars are born. Some people think a dominant performance by you in this fight will propel you to that big superstar level. How do you feel, after having such tremendous support in New York City for your last few fights, about fighting him in Los Angeles, in the Staples Center?
DG: Los Angeles and California has one of boxing’s biggest fan bases. The Mexicans and Mexican-American fans out there love boxing. There’s no better place to do it. It’s Hollywood! It’s the Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and it’s going to be a historic night.
TSL: What is it about you, when you’re tested in the ring, that you’re able to find that next level of strength and withstand the storm? You’ve been in battles, fought some excellent fighters and you’re still undefeated.
DG: Like I said before, it’s about how I mentally and physically prepare for a fight. I refuse to give up. I refuse to lose. You might have the worst round of your career, but you have to weather the storm. The very next round has to be the best round of your career. So, round by round I make adjustments and get the job done.
TSL: Your last 11 fights, you’ve been in the ring with 10 guys who’ve been world champions. That’s beyond impressive, to still be unblemished considering who you’ve knuckled up against. When you were a kid growing up in Philly, was this the vision that you had for yourself, being one of the best boxers in the world?
DG: That was always the vision. I knew I wanted to be a top level athlete. When I first stepped into the boxing ring, it felt so natural to me. The vision has always been to be a world champion. But man, it’s been a journey. I’m cherishing every moment of it. I’m only 27, but I feel like I’ve accomplished so much in my life. And I’m hungry to keep going and doing more.
TSL: People see the undefeated record, but don’t see all the hard work. What are some of the struggles, the tough things that drive you?
DG: I’ve been through some things in my life that I don’t ever want to go through again, so that motivates me. You think about those tough times when you don’t feel like running in the morning, and that wakes me up and makes me want to be the best person I can be, both in and out of the ring.
TSL: What are you working on in the gym, adding to the tool box of your skill set to make you the top fighter in the world at 147, and ultimately get to the place you want to get to, and that’s to become an all-time great?
DG: We’re just working on being smarter, getting the job done in a great fashion but doing it with some intelligence because we plan to be in this for the long run.