If there’s one major thing Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter have in common beyond their desire to beat each other for the WBC welterweight title Saturday night at Barclays Center, it’s that both dropped narrow decisions to Keith Thurman, who last owned the WBC belt that is up for grabs.
Thurman has been idle since pulling out a split decision over Garcia on March 4, 2017 while recovering first from elbow surgery and more recently from a hand injury, which is why his title was vacated. But Thurman and IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. both are expected to be ringside for the battle between Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs).
Despite the shared loss on their records, Garcia and Porter, who lost to Thurman by identical 115-113 scores just over two years ago, still rank among the elite.
“When I lost to Keith, he was a great fighter that night,” Porter said after a workout Wednesday at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. “It was a close fight. And when Danny lost to him, Keith was a great fighter that night. This makes for a great fight, the best fighter will win, and it’s going to be me.”
Whoever wins Saturday night undoubtedly would be in position for a mega-fight against either Spence or Thurman when he’s declared fit to return. But Garcia said, “I’m not worried about those guys right now. I’ve got to win on Saturday . . . It’s a high-level fight. [Porter] is hungry. He wants to be a champion. So, you’ve got to go in there and be smart and disciplined and fight a good fight.”
Garcia sloughed it off as a matter of opinion when told Thurman is picking Porter to win, but Porter accepted the endorsement.
“It makes sense,” Porter said. “He’s been in the ring with both of us. Keith knows exactly what I bring to the table, and he knows it’s going to be too much for Danny. It’s going to be the work rate, the things that are keeping him off balance, not allowing him to catch a rhythm. It’s going to be the power, a different level of speed that he’s not used to. He’s going to be giving it up all night.”
Asked what he learned from his loss to Thurman that he might apply against Porter, Garcia said, “I’d probably start faster and be more aggressive.”
After his loss to Thurman, Garcia was out of the ring for nearly a year before returning with a ninth-round TKO over Brandon Rios seven months ago to knock off the rust. Garcia said the win over Rios was great preparation for Porter. “It was a good style because [Rios] fights forward,” Garcia said, “and his aggressiveness prepared me for this fight.”
However, it plays out, the winner is in for a big score in what Garcia described as “a stacked division.”