Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime
Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter will meet on Saturday night for the vacant WBC welterweight title. For a division overflowing with talent, matchups between the elite have been sporadic. With the recent Fox and Barclays deals announced by Premier Boxing Champions, we can only hope this bout is a precursor for a 2019 that determines who the best is at 147.
Tonight’s bout is one where my pick has seesawed every few weeks. Initially, I picked Garcia by competitive but clear unanimous decision. As an effective counter-puncher, I saw Garcia being able to catch Porter with enough eye-catching power shots to nick any close rounds. We all know about Garcia’s deadly left hook, but since coming to 147 he’s shown how adept he can be with landing the right hand. Just ask Brandon Rios.
Then I started to review Garcia’s toughest bouts in recent years against Mauricio Herrera Lamont Peterson, and Keith Thurman. Garcia is at his best when he can be stationary and time opponents. When he’s forced to move, whether to chase down an elusive foe (Thurman) or due to his own rhythm being disrupted by timely jabs (Herrera), he’s much less effective. In the late rounds against Peterson, Garcia was punished to the body and at times in full retreat. Although not an overly physical fighter, Peterson is strong and was able to push off Garcia’s clinches while ripping the body.
“Danny has to have a target in front of him,” said Peterson’s trainer Barry Hunter before the 11th. “We’re not going to give him that. He [Peterson] can hunt him down now. Control angles. Behind the jab walk him down and put him on his heels [and] he can do nothing.”
These elements are why Porter will be a nightmare matchup. Having competed as high as middleweight, the physical strength is firmly on his side. To date, the only fighter that’s been able to hold his ground in the trenches against Porter was Kell Brook, a strong puncher and natural welter who’s also competed well at 154 and 160. Unlike Peterson, Shawn Porter isn’t going to wait until the last three rounds to turn up the aggression. He’ll be mauling and wrestling from round one.
Garcia doesn’t have the footwork to get away from Porter’s rushes like Keith Thurman, so the pace and wrestling will test their stamina reserves. My money is on Porter being the fresher fighter down the stretch.
I’ve been ringside for two Shawn Porter fights — his rematch against Julio Diaz and breakout title win against Devon Alexander. The former was a fight where Shawn fought angry and with a chip on his shoulder having fought to a draw with Diaz in their first encounter. He punished Diaz with hard hooks inside and outworked him to a wide decision win. The only other time I’ve seen him fight angry was against Paulie Malignaggi, whom he demolished in four one-sided rounds. I feel Porter is bringing a similar mentality to the ring against Garcia, who he feels pushed this fight off for over a year.
This fight will not be pretty but fascinating to watch. Expect Garcia to start fast but as the pace slows and clinches mount, pay attention to Porter’s body work. With Garcia’s power and counter-punching ability, you can never count out the possibility of him walking Porter into enough big shots to pull out the victory. But having witnessed Porter’s bull-in-china-shop routine shake off the best bombs from Keith Thurman, I see Porter’s durability and pressure being enough to dominate the championship rounds and take a bruising majority decision win.