Danny Garcia won the signature belt in boxing’s glamour division, then vowed to embrace a philosophy resisted by his welterweight predecessor, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Garcia, 27, told reporters after defeating veteran Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision Saturday night at Staples Center that he’s seeking a busy, challenging run of fights.
Mayweather stirred great angst by waiting so long to fight Manny Pacquiao and by taking a year or more between bouts on three occasions between 2008 and 2013.
Garcia (32-0) claimed the World Boxing Council belt vacated by Mayweather with his Saturday victory, and said afterward, “I’m interested in whatever. I’m a champion now at 147. The champions have to fight the best fighters. Whatever match gets made, I’m ready.”
The Philadelphia fighter’s options are plentiful in powerful boxing manager Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
Khan was favored to beat Garcia in July 2012, but his punching speed advantage was overwhelmed by Garcia’s strength and smarts, with Garcia winning by fourth-round technical knockout.
Garcia and his father and trainer, Angel Garcia, share a dislike of Khan and his complaints about fights with Mayweather and Pacquiao that didn’t materialize. Khan (31-3) has fought once since December 2014.
"[Khan’s] been inactive, so I don’t think it’s a good idea to fight an active fighter if you’ve been inactive. But I beat him once and I’ll beat him again,” Garcia said.
With Khan and the retired Mayweather among the 12,052 in attendance Saturday — Mayweather was in town for a Lakers game, a PBC official said — Garcia displayed a champion’s mettle by withstanding early pressure from Guerrero, then cruising to victory by scores of 116-112 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Referee Jack Reiss, right, talks with a mask-wearing Danny Garcia before his WBC welterweight title fight against Robert Guerrero.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Danny Garcia, right, lands a right to the head of Robert Guerrero during their WBC welterweight title fight Saturday night at Staples Center.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Danny Garcia can’t escape a jab by Robert Guerrero during their WBC welterweight championship bout.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Danny Garcia connects with a right during his WBC welterweight title bout against Robert Guerrero.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Robert Guerrero, left, congratulates Danny Garcia after he won their WBC welterweight title fight by unanimous decision on Saturday night.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Danny Garcia celebrates with the WBC welterweight title belt draped over his shoulder after defeating Robert Guerrero, at right, by unanimous decision on Saturday night at Staples Center.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
“I’ve been under a lot of pressure in my career — fights I was the underdog or counted out in,” Garcia said. “I told Robert at the weigh-in, ‘I was born for this belt.’ He said, ‘I was born for this, too,’ and I said, ‘Hey, I was born for this because I’m going to win tomorrow.’ I love big fights, the atmosphere, love the people who don’t want me to win. It brings out the dog in me.”
Garcia credited his boxing schooling and athleticism — he said he played baseball, basketball and football as a youth — for the triumph.
The fight turned to Garcia in the sixth round, which he spent peppering Guerrero with hard right hands to the head.
In his second welterweight bout after previously standing as a light-welterweight champion, Garcia said he landed punches in the round that “knocked out a lot of other” 140-pounders.
“I was able to time him,” Garcia said. “I knew he was doing the same patterns over and over, so I just adjusted. I’m good at making adjustments. My dad said, ‘Let the right hand go . . . use your angles and get out of there.’”
“It took Danny awhile to find those big shots. Danny started to relax, and in the big-round fatigue-ness, he was able to time [Guerrero] and once he got the timing . . . he got into a rhythm and groove and he’s now the champion of the world,” Thurman said. “He did a good thing tonight.”
Guerrero, of Gilroy, Calif., begged for a rematch, saying he’d even fight in Philadelphia, but Garcia replied, “He’s a tough fighter who comes to fight, has never been stopped, but I beat him clean. I just want to go on to bigger and better things.”