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January 24, 2016

Philly's Danny Garcia adds WBC welterweight title to resume

Danny Garcia is always self-contained in and out of the ring. The usual flamboyance that often times accompanies pro fighters is left up to his father, Angel, one of the kings of histrionics in the boxing world. Danny, however, stays in his control bubble. His pace, his speed, his distance. You won’t see him go crazy at weigh-ins or press conferences. You won’t see him throw wild, off-balance punches in the ring, either. Nothing flashy or exuberant. Venturing outside of his comfort cocoon is something he’s rarely done.

Saturday night was one of those times. “Swift” fought backing up — and fought well. He countered the hard-charging Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (33-4-1, 18 KOs) with uppercuts, lead rights, straight rights and straight right-left hook combinations. He stymied the veteran southpaw every time he tried roughing up the Philly fighter, boring through Guerrero’s occasional elbows, headbutts, forearms and the sporadic punch that came through Garcia’s high guard.

It all translated into a unanimous 12-round decision for Garcia before a Guerrero-partisan crowd of 12,052 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles — and another major belt for Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs), whose victory captured the vacant WBC welterweight title.

“I'm excited. Guerrero is tough. No one has ever stopped him. He came to fight, he was in shape. I'm taking nothing away from him. I'm so happy. I am glad it went the way it went."

In the end, there was Garcia, holding aloft his five-month baby girl, Philly Swift Garcia (that’s her name), with the famous green WBC title belt draped over his chest. Judges Rey Danseco, Max DeLuca and New Jersey’s Steve Weisfeld were all agreement, scoring easily for Garcia with 116-112 tallies — each giving Garcia six of the last eight rounds.

Adding more to this fight was the fact that it was the first primetime fight on Fox network TV in 20 years since Mike Tyson devoured Buster Mathis Jr. in three rounds on December 12, 1995, at the Spectrum. According to the Nielsen weekend ratings, the Fox national broadcast averaged 2,518,000 viewers (the third most-watched PBC telecast) peaking at 3,392,000.

A greater audience got a chance to see Garcia in a main event.

He didn’t disappoint.

Garcia landed 163 of 495 total punches thrown (32.9 percent) and won the fight almost single-handed. He hardly used his jab, as evidenced by landing just 7 of 153 (4.6 percent) thrown. Mostly, Garcia sat patiently as Guerrero bull-rushed forward and timed him with power shots and punishing straight rights, connecting on 156 of 342 (45.6 percent). In comparison, Guerrero landed 108 of 436 total punches (24.8 percent), 21 of 116 jabs (18.1 percent) and 87 of 320 power shots (27.2 percent).

“It was what I expected,” Garcia said. “I knew I would win at least eight or nine rounds. I knew there would be some headbutts in there. He head-butted me so much on my forehead. I was throwing my combinations, using my legs like my dad told me to do. I knew he was going to come to fight. He’s a rugged warrior. I’m back where I belong. I am now a two-division world champion.

“I'm excited. Guerrero is tough. No one has ever stopped him. He came to fight, he was in shape. I'm taking nothing away from him. I'm so happy. I am glad it went the way it went. I just want to take some time off, let my body heal and take one day at a time.”

Angel, of course, was less diplomatic than his son.

“I thought it was a good fight,” Angel said. “There were a lot of headbutts. He is a dirty fighter. At the end of the day, Danny pulled it off, it doesn't matter what people say. “I knew Robert was going to be at 100-percent. It was a world title fight. Anytime it is a world title fight, no one is going to slouch.”

Somehow, Guerrero, his face scarred up and bruised, saw a different fight.

“I want a rematch and that's it,” Guerrero demanded. “Not one person out there thought Danny won, but his team. I pressured him, I nailed him, busted his body up. I out-jabbed him. I thought I won the fight. The crowd thought I won the fight. It was a great fight. I am happy I’m healthy. I will be back. I thought I won the fight and I definitely want a rematch. The doubters don't bother me. I showed how strong I am and what I could do. That's why I come out and fight the way I do. "It's all for the fans. That's why they bring me back. They love it and they enjoy it. They were entertained tonight. They thought I won the fight, but that's the way the ball went.”

In one of the undercard features, Amir Mansour, a 43-year-old heavyweight from Wilmington, Delaware and who trains in Philadelphia, put on a dazzling, wild-swinging display in giving favored undefeated Dominic Breazeale, a former college football quarterback, all kinds of fits. Mansour had Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs) down and in trouble in the third. He looked like he was going to surprise everyone with an upset, but Mansour left himself open with a counter right in the fifth and decided not to answer the bell for the sixth, giving Breazeale a 5th-round TKO.

At the time Mansour (22-2-1 16 KOs) decided he couldn’t go on, claiming he had a broken jaw, he was ahead 48-46 on two of the judge’s scorecards and 49-45 on the other scorecard.