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Danny Garcia's Next Fight: Top Contenders for Next Opponent

Lyle FitzsimmonsFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2014

Danny Garcia's Next Fight: Top Contenders for Next Opponent

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Philadelphia-born Puerto Rican champion Danny Garcia delivered what he anticipates will be his final performance in the 140-pound weight class on Saturday night in his ancestral homeland, downing challenger Mauricio Herrera via majority decision over 12 rounds atop a two-bout Showtime card.

    Two judges gave it to Garcia by 116-112 counts, while a third saw it even at 114.

    Incidentally, this Bleacher Report scorecard agreed with the majority, seeing it 116-112.

    The soon-to-be 26-year-old (his birthday is March 20) made the fifth successful defense of the World Boxing Council title he won in 2012 against veteran Erik Morales—and the fourth of the World Boxing Association strap he captured four months later against Amir Khan—while simultaneously running his professional record to 28-0 with 17 knockouts.

    "I thought my last fight was the last one (at 140 pounds), but apparently it wasn't,” Garcia said a few days before the Herrera fight, referring to his 12-round decision over Lucas Matthysse on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Saul Alvarez undercard last September in Las Vegas.

    Assuming his guess is correct this time around, the increasingly popular and conveniently connected Garcia won't be without potential suitors as a welterweight, both with foes whose ships he passed at 140 pounds and others who share his promotional allegiance with Golden Boy.

    He's actually no stranger to some additional weight, having tipped the scales between 140 and 147 no fewer than 19 times, including three fights at exactly 144 pounds—for defeats of Jesus Villareal (TKO 2), Marlo Cortez (KO 2) and Julio Gamboa (UD 6). The last time weighing in above 140 came in February 2011, when he stopped John Figueroa in two rounds at the Four Points Sheraton in San Diego.

    "Boxing is a business and fighters have different destinies. I'm still building toward mine," Garcia said. "A lot of the guys who've moved up are around my age, 25 to 30, so if I don't fight you at 140, then I'll definitely get you at 147."

    Here's a list of five guys we feel would be attractive candidates for an anticipated welterweight debut. Feel free to take to the comments section to have your say on who would or could be next.

5. Jesus Soto Karass

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    Darren Abate/Associated Press

    If you're looking for the classic gatekeeper opponent for Garcia's official transition to welterweight, look no further than Mexican tough guy Jesus Soto Karass, whose career has evolved into that of a measuring stick for fighters looking to make a mark at 147 pounds.

    The now 31-year-old went eight violence-filled rounds with Marcos Maidana in September 2012, pounded Andre Berto into a final-round TKO defeat when they met last July and gave unbeaten phenom Keith Thurman a rugged eight-plus rounds before bowing by TKO in December.

    He's the sort of guy, stylistically, who typically makes Garcia look good, and he's got enough street cred to provide for any fighter who beats him. If Garcia wants a legitimate means to test the waters in a new division, don't be surprised if Soto Karass is the guy who's dialed up.

4. Adrien Broner

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Admittedly, a match between Garcia and Adrien Broner would have had a lot more buzz surrounding it had Broner not been pounded for the majority of 12 rounds while losing his WBA welterweight bout to the Argentine in December.

    The two have been talked about in tandem in the past, and Garcia himself suggested to BoxingScene.com, per Bill Emes, that a match would make sense down the road when both were "continuing to build our legacies."

    It would have the makings of a crossroads for one man and a proving ground for the other if it got made later this year, with Broner attempting to rebuild his brand and Garcia trying to establish his.

    And even if it's not the next contest put together for the Philadelphian, it's hard to imagine he'll go through an entire career with meeting "The Problem" at least once.

3. Marcos Maidana

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    WBA welterweight champion Marcos Maidana was certainly among the former 140-pounders that Garcia had in mind when he suggested, "If I don't fight you at 140, then I'll definitely get you at 147."

    Maidana was a narrow winner at 140 against Erik Morales, the man against whom Garcia ultimately won the WBC's world title; and he lost a unanimous decision against Amir Khan, whom Garcia stopped in four rounds while capturing the WBA's championship belt.

    And now that Maidana's reached the belted class at 147, he's even more attractive. 

    While it's likely to most that the Argentine will be title-less after his date with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May, it's not hard to imagine that he'd like to bounce back later in the year with a foe like Garcia.

2. Paulie Malignaggi

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    It would have been hard to fathom a Garcia encounter with Paulie Malignaggi after the latter was pounded into submission by Amir Khan in 2010, but thanks to the "Magic Man's" unlikely rebirth at 147 pounds, it's now become a very real possibility.

    And should the Brooklyn native get past Shawn Porter and earn the IBF title belt when those two fight on the Bernard Hopkins-Beibut Shumenov undercard in April, it would reach legitimate top-of-the-marquee status, especially at the spanking-new arena in Paulie's backyard.

    Malignaggi suggested to BoxingScene.com, per Emes, that Garcia was a tantalizing possibility for a fight when he finally decided to rise up to 147. Now that the moment's at hand, it's surely a deal that'll at least get looked into before too long.

1. Luis Collazo

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    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    Garcia was ringside in Brooklyn in late January when Luis Collazo returned to boxing prominence by stopping Victor Ortiz in two rounds. Returning the favor, Collazo, who also has Puerto Rican roots, told BoxingScene.com that he planned to be in the building for Garcia's fight Saturday night.

    It's hardly surprising, then, that this one is the leader in the clubhouse when it comes to potential Garcia opening acts at welterweight. Both have passionate fanbases, and both have drawn good crowds in Brooklyn, which would make the bout an ideal attraction in the new arena.

    A defeat of the rugged Collazo, who held the WBA's welterweight title in 2005-06 and later lost narrowly to Andre Berto in a WBC title match, would be a significant feather in the cap for Garcia as he follows through on a desire to ultimately meet both divisional and pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.

     

    NOTE: Unless otherwise cited, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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