For far too long, former world champion Danny Garcia has not been accorded the respect that his ability and his record suggest is due him.
Garcia is 34-2 with 20 knockouts, but with a little bit of luck could easily be 36-0. He’s 8-2 in world title fights and has had belts at both super lightweight and welterweight.
At the very least, through 36 fights Garcia has had a career that will force voters to think long and hard about electing him to the International Boxing Hall of Fame if he never fights again. But he’s still only 31 and has a lot of big fights ahead of him.
Yet, Garcia hasn’t gotten the public acclaim that other welterweights have earned. He is in what could easily be considered a golden era for welterweights, and with boxers like WBA champions Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao, IBF champion Errol Spence, WBC champion Shawn Porter and WBO champion Terence Crawford in the mix, it’s easy for a guy to be overlooked.
Crawford, who is the Yahoo Sports’ pick as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, will defend his title Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York in the main event of a pay-per-view card against Amir Khan.
Garcia will fight Adrian Granados on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, in a bout televised on Fox, and he’ll get an opportunity to make a statement on the same night that Crawford is going.
Promoter Leonard Ellerbe said he agreed with Yahoo Sports’ choice of Crawford as the sport’s top pound-for-pound boxer, but said the identity of the best welterweight is very much open to debate, in essence suggesting Crawford isn’t a true welterweight.
“Pound for pound, I believe Crawford is the best fighter in the world,” Ellerbe said. “He’s a terrific fighter. I’m just not sure he's the best welterweight in the world.
“Danny has a chip on his shoulder because other guys are getting a lot of attention, and justifiably so, because they’re coming off good performances. But when they say that, they’re forgetting about Danny. I’m not going to say everyone, but I think most believe Errol Spence is the best welterweight out there. I know Keith [Thurman] feels differently. I know Shawn Porter feels differently. You can better believe Manny Pacquiao doesn’t believe. And I just talked to Danny yesterday, and he has this massive chip on his shoulder because he believes it’s him.”
Garcia isn’t fighting the guy who will be 3,000 miles away, but he no doubt wants to make a statement with the way he performs against Granados. Garcia, for what it’s worth, knocked Khan out in the fourth round of a super lightweight title fight in 2012.
Seven years is a lifetime in boxing, but Garcia has been consistently good over those seven years since that KO. His only two losses were to Thurman and Porter, bouts which were close and which could have gone either way. The Thurman fight was a split decision and one judge had Garcia winning it.
“Those are definitely fights I want to avenge,” Garcia said of his losses to Thurman and Porter. “I want to avenge [my losses in] those fights because I obviously feel like I did enough to win both of those, but I can't worry about that right now.
“I feel like those fights will always be there in the future, in the near future, so I just have to make sure I go in there Saturday night and handle business, first.”
He knows it’s inevitable that his performance against Khan will be scrutinized given Crawford is fighting him. As good as Crawford is, it will be difficult for him to take Khan out as early and as dramatically as Garcia did.
And while sportsbooks have Crawford as an overwhelming favorite to defeat Khan, Garcia sees it differently.
“Khan’s is not an easy style to prepare for,” Garcia said. “He has fast hands and he has quick feet, so it’s definitely going to be an entertaining fight. Terence Crawford is not really a pressure fighter. He’ll try to knock you out with one punch or try to break you down and take you out of the lead.
“I honestly believe it’s a 50-50 fight. I think Terence Crawford has more momentum going into the fight than Khan, but I honestly think it’s a 50-50 fight.”
Ellerbe said the winner of Garcia-Granados will be in position to help prove the identity of the world’s best welterweights. The PBC plans to match its welterweight stars aggressively in 2019 and one of them could emerge as the clear choice.
That’s why Ellerbe believes Saturday’s bout is so crucial.
“It’s a huge fight for both Danny and for Adrian and it’s why I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that their careers are at stake,” Ellerbe said. “I don’t think there is a timetable and fights already made up, but I do have intimate knowledge that all of those guys are going to be fighting each other.
“So if you are Danny Garcia or Adrian Granados and you see what else is out there and what is potentially on the horizon in this division, you know you need to perform to keep your name in that group. That’s why I think this is such a fascinating fight.”