As Danny Garcia views it, the WBC welterweight title belt really isn’t vacant. It’s something he misplaced via a split decision loss to Keith Thurman 18 months ago, but he’s coming to reclaim his property against Shawn Porter in what is expected to be an action-packed battle televised by Showtime Saturday night at Barclays Center.
The mere fact Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) has worn that WBC belt around his waist inspires confidence against Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs). “It means the world to me to get this belt back,” Garcia said Thursday at the final pre-fight news conference.
“This is a new chapter in my career. I’m a seasoned champion. This is a chance to regain something that was mine. This is one of the moments where I just have to go out there and prove myself.”
Garcia is a patient counter-puncher, but he faulted himself for not setting the tempo early against Thurman. At the same time, he’s hoping Porter’s typical aggression will play into his hands. At 5-7, Porter is a couple inches shorter than Garcia, who expects him to try and come in behind his jab and go to the body.
“Shawn’s style is exactly what I like to go up against,” Garcia said. “I want him to come forward and walk into my counter-punching. I have power in both hands, and I’m going to make him feel it.”
Told that Porter has said he might fight tactically from outside, Garcia said, “I’m ready for anything. I’m prepared to fight backward, forward or whatever I need to do. I have to set the tempo and dominate. Shawn is very hungry, so it’s important for me to be smart and pick my spots.”
Porter has been accused by some opponents of employing illegal tactics, such as leading with the top of the head and using his elbows. Garcia must be mindful of the cardinal rule of the sport to “protect yourself at all times.”
Porter warned him of as much, saying, “Danny has to know that he’s getting in the ring with a bull. This isn’t going to be an easy 12 rounds. I’m going to make him earn every inch.”
Besides claiming the WBC belt, the winner goes to the head of the line for a unification bout with IBF titlist Errol Spence Jr., who will be at ringside. “I absolutely want to unify with Errol Spence Jr. after I win,” Garcia said. “I want the biggest fights.”
Of course, Porter has other ideas. “The way I’m going to win this fight will change the conversation at welterweight,” Porter said. “You’re going to have to wonder whether Errol Spence Jr. or [WBO champion] Terence Crawford have what it takes to beat me. I’m here to put on a great show, win this title and do it in spectacular fashion.”