Danny Garcia vs. Mauricio Herrera: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2014

Danny Garcia vs. Mauricio Herrera: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

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    On Saturday night in Puerto Rico, WBA, WBC and lineal light welterweight champion Danny Garcia returns to action for the first time in 2014 against Mauricio Herrera. The undefeated Garcia has spent the past two years making himself into one of the top rising stars in the sport. 

    At just 25, the Philadelphia native is positioned to become one of the sport's top attractions in the next few years. His father and trainer, Angel, is a native of Puerto Rico, and the father and son will be treated to an enthusiastic homecoming at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez.

Tale of the Tape

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    Per BoxRec     Danny Garcia     Mauricio Herrera
    Record:     27-0, 16 KOs     20-3, 7 KOs
    Height:     5'8.5"     5'10"
    Reach:     68.5"     71.5"
    Weight:     140 lbs     140 lbs
    Age:     25     33
    Stance:     Orthodox     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Philadelphia, Pennsylvania     Riverside, California
    Rounds:     152     162

    BoxRec has Herrera's height listed as 5'10", but I don't think that's accurate. I saw him fight Karim Mayfield live and rewatched his fight with Ruslan Provodnikov on video to prepare this preview. I'd guess he's closer to 5'8". 

    I do believe the listed reach, though. Herrera is a rangy fighter who knows how to use his length. 

    Riverside and Philadelphia are two of the best boxing cities in America. Both these guys come from great boxing backgrounds. They are two experienced professionals who know their trade.

Main Storylines

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    Danny Garcia is the lineal light welterweight champion and also owns the WBC and WBA belts. Lamont Peterson still holds the IBF title, but he was destroyed in three rounds by Lucas Matthysse last May in a non-title fight, and Garcia beat Matthysse by convincing unanimous decision last September. 

    So Peterson is a champion in name only at this point. Provodnikov owns the WBO belt at 140 pounds after a brutal stoppage of Mike Alvarado last October. In an ideal world, he would be the guy Garcia fought.

    But Provodnikov is promoted by Top Rank while Garcia is with Golden Boy, and unfortunately, the two most powerful promotional groups in the sport refuse to work together and make the major fights that matter. 

    So Garcia will fight Herrera instead. Herrera is not a bum and actually has a win over Provodnikov on his resume, from January 2011. But the 33-year-old Herrera lost his last two fights at the world-class level, in 2012, to Mayfield and Alvarado. 

    Herrera beat a couple of journeymen in 2013, Ji-Hoon Kim and Miguel Huerta, while fighting close to home in California. This is a major opportunity for him that I expect he will be well-prepared for.

    But Herrera has been in some brutal fights and has a lot of wear and tear on his body.

Strengths

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    Danny Garcia is a well-rounded, complete fighter. He has good defense, dangerous offense and the ability to transition smoothly between the two. 

    He mixes his punches well, working to both body and head. He's a smart fighter who studies an opponent, probing for holes to exploit. And he's got jarring, fight-changing power in his aesthetically pretty lead left hook. 

    Mauricio Herrera has excellent length and knows how to exploit it with straight punches and lateral movement. He has a solid jab and a very tricky lead right. 

    Herrera is an extremely durable fighter. He hung tight in the pocket against the ferocious Provodnikov and kept coming all fight against the rugged Mayfield.

Weaknesses

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    Danny Garcia is a solid boxer, but he's a bit of a brawler at heart. As a result, he puts himself into position to get hit, especially against an opponent who can keep him at the end of his punches. 

    Against Amir Khan, he was consistently beaten to the punch early on, as Khan landed on him from the outside. Garcia was able to adjust after the first two rounds and win inside of four, but I have to think Herrera will be watching those first two rounds for pointers. 

    Mauricio Herrera has minimal punching power, and that's a problem given the tendency he has for mixing it up on the inside. Although he has a solid chin and a ton of heart, at this point in his career, he has been in some wars. 

    Damage accumulates on a boxer's body. After a year staying active against second-tier opposition, I wouldn't be surprised to see Herrera look like an old 33 in his return to world-class competition.

Danny Garcia Will Win If...

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    On paper, this should be Garcia's easiest fight since 2011. But fights don't happen on paper.

    Garcia is coming off a huge win last September against Matthysse. He has to stay focused here and avoid becoming overconfident and stumbling against an experienced veteran. 

    But Garcia doesn't strike me as the sort of young fighter who is going to look past an opponent. So winning here should be largely a matter of executing the game plan he's consistently executed over the past two years.

    Garcia needs to apply smart pressure and avoid getting hit with stupid punches as he moves inside of Herrera's range. Herrera might not be a particularly powerful puncher, but he is an accurate one.

    So if Herrera can damage or cut one of Garcia's eyes, he has the chance to make this fight much more dangerous than it needs to be for Garcia. To avoid that, Garcia needs to cover up on Herrera's jab and then throw his dangerous lead hook over the top of Herrera's jab hand as he returns.

    Garcia needs to look out for Herrera's lead right. When Herrera throws it, he should slip to the side and pound Herrera downstairs to the ribs. Garcia should invest in an aggressive body attack in the opening rounds before shifting up top later in the fight.

Mauricio Herrera Will Win If...

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    To have a chance in this fight, Herrera is going to need to establish a crisp, effective jab. It sounds simple enough, but Garcia has taken the jab away from some pretty good fighters in the past with his dangerous left hook. 

    So Herrera will need to double up the jab or string it together with combinations. In a sense, the fact that Herrera is not a very powerful puncher might work to his advantage in this fight.

    Herrera has never been able to win fights by loading up and looking for the one big punch, like Lucas Matthysse, for example. He's always needed to rely on combination punching.

    Herrera is going to need to use a lot of movement and keep Garcia at the end of his jab. He has to anticipate Garcia's left hook and disrupt it with a lead right.

    Herrera can only win this fight with guile. He's going to need to use smart tactical movement to control the tempo of the fight.

Prediction

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    Herrera is a smart, durable veteran, and he certainly isn't showing up in Puerto Rico this Saturday just to provide a warm body for Garcia to look good against. This is a life-changing opportunity for him, and he'll do everything in his power to capitalize on it. 

    But Garcia has almost every physical advantage here. He's younger, stronger and quicker, with far more punching power. 

    And Garcia is a tactically smart fighter, as well. Herrera might have some success early on using his jab and movement to frustrate Garcia, but the young champion will make the necessary adjustments. 

    Herrera is a durable fighter who has never been stopped. But in this case, I think Garcia will pile up enough damage to cause a late stoppage. 

    I think Herrera will finish the fight standing, but he won't make it to the final bell. I see Garcia winning by Round 10 TKO. 

    A good future opponent for Garcia would be undefeated Karim Mayfield, who already has a win over Herrera.