Garcia Wins Welterweight Title With Decision Over Guerrero
Danny Garcia continued his campaign in the welterweight division by beating Robert Guerrero via unanimous decision and adding another world title to his collection — one of the belts that had been left vacant in the wake of Floyd Mayweather’s retirement.
Garcia was previously the 140-pound champion. He had flirted before with the idea of going up to welterweight and officially made the move last year. His first fight as a full-fledged 147-pounder came against Paulie Malignaggi, who doesn’t have much power and is toward the end of his career.
Guerrero, too, has seen better days. His last big win was a 2012 war with Andre Berto. Then he lost to Mayweather in 2013, won a brutal battle over the lesser-known Yoshihiro Kamegai in 2014, put up a decent fight against Keith Thurman before losing a wide decision in 2015, and then looked close to done while picking up a controversial victory over Aron Martinez later that year.
Guerrero looked somewhat rejuvenated in the opening rounds against Garcia, though, pressuring him and landing some good punches. Garcia used boxing to try to evade Guerrero, hard counters to try to deter him, and body shots to try to wear him down. All of that worked. Guerrero’s attacks began to slow, and Garcia found more and more success hitting him clean and hard, then moving and starting over. Guerrero attempted to battle back, including an enjoyable exchange in the final round, but it wouldn’t be enough. All three judges had Garcia the winner, scoring it 116-112, or eight rounds to four.
The victory brought his record to 32-0 with 18 KOs, put a belt around his waist and a bull’s-eye on his back. He’s in one of the deepest weight classes in boxing; there is a long list of fighters who could either give him tough fights or at least make for good fights.
That list includes Amir Khan, whom Garcia stopped in 2012 when both were junior welterweights; a unification bout with the winner of the upcoming fight between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter; a unification bout with Kell Brook should he get past Kevin Bizier; a rematch with Lamont Peterson, whom Garcia won a disputed decision over last year; talented contender Errol Spence; former 140-pound titleholder Chris Algieri; or even Berto, who isn’t a top 147-pounder but would be guaranteed to go down firing. A unification bout with the winner of the third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley is highly unlikely due to the politics of boxing.
Guerrero’s now 33-4-1 with 18 KOs, is 2-3 in his past five fights and very well could’ve been 1-4. He believes he won the fight with Garcia. Even though he didn’t, he at least put forth the kind of performance in defeat that probably will land him in with one of the names listed above.
Breazeale Survives Mansour For Surprising Fifth-Round TKO
Boxing’s history books are full of the names of former athletes who tried to transition from team sports to one-on-one combat, only to fail once they reached the point where their physical gifts alone weren’t enough to overcome those who had been fighting longer and at a higher level.
Former college football player Dominic Breazeale still looks as if he may someday be one of those names. Yet he can’t be written off and written down in that infamous section of the history books just yet. That’s because the 6-foot-7 heavyweight prospect was tough enough to get through some difficult moments against Amir Mansour and did enough to pull out a victory that had seemed unlikely given the way the fight was going.
Mansour caught Breazeale with a hard southpaw left hand halfway through the second and nailed him with the same shot just as the round was ending. He dropped Breazeale with a right hook early in the third and was able to score with the same punch about a minute into the fifth. Each time, Mansour loaded up on power shots to try to put Breazeale away. Each time, however, Breazeale weathered Mansour’s attacks, recovered and kept throwing back.
A Mansour victory seemed inevitable nonetheless. He had a lead on the scorecards. He’d shown that he could hit and hurt Breazeale. But what viewers couldn’t see was that Breazeale had already hurt him. A shot Breazeale landed in the second round made Mansour bite down and into his tongue, which swelled up and bled and made it tough for Mansour to breathe. Mansour’s jaw ached as well. Those injuries caused him to call it a night after the fifth round was over. He’s now 22-2-1 with 16 KOs.
Breazeale was good enoughas an amateur to represent the United States in the 2012 Olympics, but his flaws and limitations as a pro have been exposed in his past two fights. He was lucky to escape with a controversial unanimous decision over Fred Kassi last September. He deserves credit for the shot that wounded Mansour in the second round, but he’s also fortunate for the damage it did. Mansour’s difficulty breathing may have been why he didn’t have the stamina to finish Breazeale off earlier.
Kassi and Mansour are good tests for rising prospects. Breazeale barely passed those tests, however. He’s 17-0 with 15 KOs and still has time to improve, but he’s got a long way to go. For now, it looks as if his rise won’t be too far and his fall won’t be too surprising.
Vasquez Tops Injured Martinez With Sixth-Round Stoppage
Danny Garcia wasn’t the only welterweight to pick up a win in Los Angeles. While Garcia headed home with a world title, Sammy Vasquez scored a technical knockout victory over Aron Martinez that brought him one step closer to a title shot.
The 147-pound prospect out-boxed and outworked Martinez, who remained on his stool after the sixth round due an injured left elbow. It was a disappointing result for Martinez, particularly given the year he had in 2015.
Officially, Martinez was only 1-1 last year. In his eyes — and in the opinion of many who follow the sport — the gritty journeyman deserved to be 2-0. He’d given Robert Guerrero a very tough fight last June, only to come up on the short end of a split decision. He got another chance months later, taking on Devon Alexander in October and winning a unanimous decision. Those were two good performances against two former titleholders.
He didn’t have a good performance on Saturday. Martinez likes to come forward. Some fighters like to deal with that kind of opponent by moving away. But others know that a fighter who likes to come forward doesn’t like being pushed backward. That’s what Vasquez did at times. He also used movement to stay at a safe distance, coming forward with shots and then heading back out of harm’s way. Even when Martinez was able to get close, Vasquez either tied him up or weathered the assaults well.
That limited Martinez’s output, which given his lack of power is necessary for grinding his opponents down. The injury likely contributed as well. He threw only 30 punches per round, on average, according to CompuBox estimates. Vasquez was winning, and Martinez recognized that this just wasn’t going to be his night. He fell to 20-5-1 with 4 KOs.
Vasquez, 21-0 with 15 KOs, still hasn’t faced the better fighters at welterweight. He’s getting closer to having that opportunity. It’s a deep division, which means that it may not be too long before we see whether he belongs.