On Saturday, April 27, Danny "Swift" Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) will defend his WBA and WBC welterweight titles against Zab "Super" Judah (42-7, 29 KOs) live from the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Garcia is a marketable rising star in boxing who has taken out some of the old guard—Nate Campbell and Erik Morales—and some of the new as well—Kendall Holt and Amir Khan. A win against an accomplished former champion like Zab Judah will only add more credence to the notion that Garcia is boxing's next big thing.
Judah has built up an impressive resume over his 17-year career, facing some of boxing’s most well-known champions such as Kostya Tszyu, Miguel Cotto, and Floyd Mayweather. Make no mistake about it, the Brooklynite has been on the big stage before. The difference this time is that Judah is the veteran, possibly looking at his last shot at a title.
Both men carry the immense pride of their respective cities on their back—Garcia is from Philadelphia, and Judah is from Brooklyn. Garcia and Judah have not minced words during the buildup to the fight, so come Saturday, tensions will be high.
Will Judah be able to put a complete fight together and capture glory one more time? Or will Garcia be able to prove he is one of the best fighters not only in the welterweight division but in all of boxing. Read on as I break down the four key categories going into Saturday night’s championship bout.
Stats courtesy of BoxRec.
Danny Garcia is an athletic boxer who can move with pretty good fluidity. He usually uses quick movements to get to a certain spot in the ring and then unloads his shots.
At times, Garcia will look too hard for the knockout and forgets about using his jab. When this happens, he squares up and fights flatfooted.
Against Amir Khan, he landed only five of 37 jabs through four rounds (per BoxingScene.com). Up until this point in his career, the lack of pure boxing hasn't hurt Garcia all that much because he's been able to close the gap against his opponents and land his power punches.
Zab Judah has always possessed beautiful boxing movement in the ring. When he’s on his A-game, Judah moves effortlessly, landing quick combinations that are set up by a stiff jab. Because he's so fast, Judah can effectively land punches from different angles as well.
In the early part of his fight against Lucas Matthysse, Judah showed the ability to out-box and out-move one of the biggest punchers in the sport. He will need to employ a similar game plan against Garcia in order to be successful.
Judah is, by far, the superior boxer. The X-factor will be whether Judah can maintain his stamina and poise throughout the bout as Garcia tries to walk him down.
If Garcia gets into the routine of loading up on one punch, you can bet he's pretty much thrown any strategic boxing plan out the window. If Judah can take advantage of this, he'll set himself up for a win.
Garcia swinging for the fences
Danny Garcia has 16 knockouts in 25 fights, good for a 64 percent knockout percentage. Because Zab Judah has been down multiple times in his career, it’s safe to say that Danny can end this fight with one big overhand left or right.
Even when he’s getting out-boxed—like he was early on against Amir Khan—Garcia can land shots that have the power to change the entire face of a fight. The knock on Garcia is the way he loads up on his power punches, oftentimes telegraphing them.
Having stopped 29 of his 51 opponents for a 56.86 knockout percentage, it’s fair to say that Judah possesses good punching power. His power will serve him best if he’s able to put together quick combinations and dart out of Garcia’s range. He doesn't need to set up one big punch. He may be able to break down Garcia over 12 rounds.
What he doesn't want to do is get into a close-quarter showdown and try to prove he's stronger. Judah needs to maintain space between himself and Garcia, better than he did against Vernon Paris.
At this point in his career, his legs just may not allow it. One thing is for sure, if Garcia is able to land the shots that Paris did in close, it will be a short night for Judah.
Garcia gets the nod in the power department because of his dynamic one-punch power. He doesn't possess the technique that Judah does, but regardless, he consistently finds a way to land hard punches.
Even if Garcia isn't landing in high volumes, the key will be to touch Judah to the body and slow down his movement. Judah recently said in an interview with The Ring that Lucas Matthysse is the hardest puncher he’s ever faced. Garcia will definitely be looking to change that opinion on April 27.
Danny Garcia has holes in his defense and can be hit cleanly by any opponent. An over-the-hill Erik Morales was able to land a number of blows on Garcia in their first bout.
To his credit, though, Garcia has a good chin and the will to overcome some of his opponents hardest blows. He has good upper-body movement, and when he feels it is necessary, he's isn't afraid to clinch.
All that being said, Garcia's best defense is his offense. In his fights against Ashley Theophane and Amir Khan, Garcia showed that he likes to stay in the pocket, take his opponent's shots and throw some menacing counters.
Zab Judah's defense is both helped and hurt by his rapid reflexes. He is very adept at slipping punches and turning his opponents around. But, on more than one occasion, Judah has relied too heavily upon his upper-body movement and quickness as his primary means of defense.
Judah can't fall into this habit against Garcia. Pulling his head straight back to avoid punches is a surefire way to get knocked out. Judah needs to use good footwork to help maintain a healthy distance and make Garcia exert energy by trying to cut off the ring.
Judah gets the slight edge. The big question is can Judah maintain his superior defense throughout the entire fight? Can he slip punches and score with counters throughout the night? The answer is probably not.
After Round 6 or 7, the 35-year old Judah will likely start to get fatigued and rely more on upper-body movement than his legs.
Even in his prime, when he was arguably the fastest professional boxer in the world, fight fans will remember that Judah was caught pulling straight back with his hands down by a slower Kostya Tszyu.
Normally, it would be good for Danny Garcia to try and work behind a busy jab, but because Zab Judah is a southpaw, the jab becomes less effective. Garcia shouldn't totally forget about the jab, but he should concentrate on landing some other punches as well.
A major part of Garcia's game plan should be throwing the straight right to the head and body to slow Judah's movement down. Once Garcia finds a home for the straight right, he can bring the big left hook behind it like he did against southpaw Mike Aranoutis.
Garcia also needs to push Judah against the ropes and keep the fight at a close distance. During inside exchanges, Garcia needs to make sure not to square up and leave himself open to clean punches.
To win this fight, Judah will have to be mentally prepared to box 12 full rounds. While Judah has promised to “kill two birds with one stone” by knocking out Garcia and making Angel Garcia eat his words (according to Tom Casino of FightNews.com), the smart thing to do is leave all of the promises and threats outside of the ring and look to follow a stick-and-move game plan.
If Judah can stay off the ropes, show Garcia different angles and feint effectively, he may be able to keep the young champion off balance and frustrate him in the process.
If Garcia is truly not taking Judah's southpaw stance and style into account—as he seemed to suggest in an interview with ThaBoxingVoice.com—Judah may be able to catch Garcia off-guard.
Garcia gets the nod. Both men have deficiencies in their tactics, so there are some big questions that can only be answered on fight night. Up to this point in his career, Garcia has been successful with his style and is willing to take some punishment in order to get results.
While Judah has always had the tools to out-box just about anyone in the sport, he has rarely been disciplined enough to maintain his effort throughout a grueling fight.
It is clear that both sides have tried to intimidate each other with some pretty harsh words. Is either fighter truly scared or shaken up? Probably not. But, the insults—which continued Wednesday, as seen in this clip courtesy of JPBoxingNYC (h/t Blip)—may distract one fighter to the point where he disregards his game plan in the ring in search of a dynamic knockout.
Zab Judah will likely start faster than Danny Garcia and jump out to an early lead behind good foot work and quick combinations from a safe distance. Garcia will not be deterred and should only take a couple of rounds to really get going.
If the heavy-handed Garcia is able to land to the body early—like Vernon Paris was briefly able to do—Judah will most likely lose his cool, and Garcia may be able to score a quick knockout. Regardless of how it ends, the intensity will be high, and we should see an exciting fight.
Garcia by late stoppage.