Danny Garcia vs. Robert Guerrero: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

Briggs Seekins@BriggsfighttalkFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2016

Danny Garcia vs. Robert Guerrero: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

0 of 7

    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The vacant WBC welterweight title is up for grabs Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, as undefeated Danny Garcia battles veteran contender Robert Guerrero. 

    Garcia previously held the WBC, WBA and Ring belts at light welterweight. Guerrero is a multiple-division champion. 

    Since the retirement of lineal welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., the division is in a state of complete Balkanization. The winner of this clash will have one of four competing claims to the crown. 

Tale of the Tape

1 of 7

    Elsa/Getty Images
    Per Boxrec Danny GarciaRobert Guerrero
    Record:31-0, 18 KOs 33-3-1, 18 KOs
    Height:5'8 ½"5'8"
    Reach:68 ½"70"
    Weight:147 lbs147 lbs
    Stance:OrthodoxSouthpaw
    Age:2732
    Hometown:Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Gilroy, California
    Rounds:187259

    Danny Garcia is the slightly taller fighter here, but Robert Guerrero has a slight edge in reach. Physically, they are very closely matched. 

    At 27, Garcia is an experienced competitor who has faced more than a half dozen world champions. Guerrero has been through wars in the ring, and at 32, he has a lot of miles on his tires. 

Main Storylines

2 of 7

    Eric Jamison/Associated Press

    As noted in the introduction, this fight is for the vacant WBC welterweight title, which was left open when Floyd Mayweather retired following his defeat of Andre Berto. Barring a draw, all four belts at 147 pounds will be locked down after this weekend. 

    In 2012 and 2013, Garcia emerged as one of the hottest young stars in the sport.  He won the WBC and WBA belts at 140 pounds in 2012 by beating future Hall of Famer Erik Morales and stopping Amir Khan with a stunning, Round 4 TKO.

    In 2013, he beat Zab Judah and then won a unanimous decision over Lucas Matthysse, in one of the year's most highly anticipated fights.

    His popularity has waned since then, though. In March 2014, he edged Mauricio Herrera by hotly disputed majority decision. His August 2014 KO of Rod Salka was an absurd mismatch. In May of 2014, Garcia won another majority decision over Lamont Peterson.

    Garcia's wins over Herrera and Peterson were close fights, and it's wrong to call them robberies. But I did personally score both in favor of the losers. Garcia looked sharp in his welterweight debut against Paulie Malignaggi last August, stopping him in nine. 

    Robert Guerrero has been in some of the roughest fights of the past half decade. He battered Andre Berto in November 2012, earning a shot at Floyd Mayweather. After losing to Mayweather in May 2013, Guerrero took a year off and then came back in June 2014 to defeat Yoshihiro Kamegai in a non-stop slugfest. 

    Guerrero took a lot of punishment in an exciting, but one-sided, loss to Keith Thurman in March of last year. He was knocked down by fringe contender Aaron Martinez last June and escaped with a split decision. 

    Guerrero is a true warrior, but it's tough not to think he's a faded version of himself by this point. 

Strengths

3 of 7

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Danny Garcia has a sensational left hook. He's a solid overall offensive fighter who works behind a stiff jab, mixing up his punches to both the body and the head.

    Garcia does well at both dictating the pace by getting off first and at waiting to find the space to counter his opponents' attacks.

    Robert Guerrero can box well on the outside, using lateral movement and a quick jab to set up his straight left. But he has a brawler's heart and is very dangerous in phone-booth fights, where he uses good head and shoulder movement to set up blistering uppercuts and clubbing overhand lefts. 

Weaknesses

4 of 7

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Danny Garcia has had some difficulty with fighters who use clever movement. They were close fights, but I had him losing against both Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson. 

    Robert Guerrero is 32. That's a young man in most respects, but it can be old for a prizefighter, especially one who mixes it up the way that Guerrero does. He's been punished in even some of his biggest wins. 

    Guerrero struggled in his last fight, a split-decision win over Aaron Martinez, a decent but hardly spectacular, fringe contender with only four KOs in 25 fights. 

Danny Garcia Will Win If...

5 of 7

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Danny Garcia wants to get off first with his jab in this fight, in order to dictate the pace and keep Robert Guerrero in range for the big left hook. He should also look to land the hook as a counter, over the top of Guerrero's straight left. 

    Garcia should hold the center of the ring and force Guerrero to bring the fight to him, looking to punish him as he comes forward. He needs to avoid chasing Guerrero and allowing the more experienced fighter to lead him into traps.

    It seems inevitable that parts of this fight will see the two men exchanging furiously at close range. Garcia will need to stay composed at those moments, covering up and then finding the space to counter Guerrero to both body and head. 

Robert Guerrero Will Win If...

6 of 7

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    If Robert Guerrero can be the better ring general and dictate the terrain of the battle, he has a good shot to emerge the winner in this fight. He wants to fight at long and close range, avoiding the middle distance, where Garcia's explosive left hook is especially dangerous. 

    From the outside, Guerrero should look to double his jab, while circling to his right, moving into position to come straight down the middle with his left cross.

    In back of that straight left, Guerrero should move all the way into the pocket, following the first, straight, left with a clubbing, overhand variety. Once he's inside, the Ghost should turn it into an ugly, violent slugfest.

    Guerrero needs to play the part of a smart brawler in this fight. To beat the younger man, he needs to employ his guile and bet on himself being the grittier man with the bigger heart.  

Prediction

7 of 7

    Elsa/Getty Images

    This is a clash between two good offensive fighters. So fans should expect to see an entertaining bout. 

    Robert Guerrero was involved in one of the most exciting fights of the year in both 2012 and 2014. In 2015, his heart and determination alone made his loss to Keith Thurman compelling, despite being one-sided. 

    But this promises to be the sort of fight that shows Danny Garcia at his best. The former light welterweight champion has good vision and is good when exchanging. Guerrero has been through too many wars to match pace all night with the younger man. 

    Garcia will win by decision, about eight rounds to four. It will be a good fight, with Guerrero once more earning the respect of all true boxing fans. 

    With the WBC version of the welterweight bout around his waist, Garcia's next fight should be against one of the division's true stars. In a perfect world, he'd face the winner of Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter, in a WBC-WBA unification bout.