Danny Garcia knows this story already. So does boxing, for that matter. Fans again walk away from one of Garcia’s fights underwhelmed, while he walks away with another win and, in this case, the WBC welterweight belt. By now Garcia is accustomed to his role as a boxer who is easy to dislike and easier to ridicule, but on paper Garcia remains undefeated at 32-0 with 18 knockouts after decisioning Robert Guerrero last night. The belt part is still tricky, however.
When it comes to sorting through the champions, boxing’s landscape is such that even one of the heads of the infamous alphabet organizations, the WBA’s Gilberto Mendoza, Jr., has declared there are too many titles in the sport. So take Garcia’s newfound WBC champion status with a grain of salt.
Floyd Mayweather’s retirement left an opening atop a deep welterweight division that Premier Boxing Champions wanted to fill as quickly as possible. Both Kell Brook and Keith Thurman, two of the divisions belt-holders, were already within reach of the PBC, and Garcia’s new trinket brings the outfit one fighter closer to monopolizing a potential tournament at 147 pounds. But victories like last night’s don’t particularly help Garcia win over fans.
In a fair world Guerrero would be 2-3 in his last five bouts and an unconvincing welterweight contender, but a literal gift win over Aaron Martinez allowed him to challenge for this belt. Despite the shaky credentials, Guerrero went straight at Garcia, making the former junior welterweight champion uncomfortable in the first few rounds. It wasn’t until round four that Garcia found a home for his right hand and before long he was putting the left hook behind it.
Once Garcia found the rhythm he’d been looking for, Guerrero was largely reduced to following him around and walking headlong into his offense. And to cement the shift, Garcia landed a combination at the end of round six that rattled Guerrero, standing him straight up and forcing him to nod in recognition.
Garcia moved forward for much of the second half, taking away Guerrero’s mauling offense and leading him to the end of his punches with better footwork. There was no answer from Guerrero despite the cries from his corner to increase his output and cut off the ring, neither of which he could do as he seemed stuck in second gear. A rally from the Californian in the final round came far too late, and Garcia evened things out by successfully trading power punches in the closing moments of the fight.
All three cards tabbed scores of 116-112 for Garcia, but the pro-Guerrero crowd and Garcia’s inability to dominate or to offer many thrills killed the celebration. Post-fight interviews were cut short, the bad blood that seemed to fuel interest in the fight immediately dissipated, and any excitement exited along with the fans from the Staples Center.
Garcia’s future depends on what move he and his father make next, but there was no emergence of a potential heir apparent; the bout itself highlighted both Garcia’s shortcomings and boxing’s preference of money over clarity. Unless there is a clear effort made to match Garcia against Keith Thurman, Kell Brook or the winner of Manny Pacquiao vs Tim Bradley III, his new belt really means nothing and this win over Guerrero gets scattered among several other disappointing performances.
— Patrick Connor