Angel Garcia proudly holds up a poster promoting his son’s 147-pound title unification bout with Keith Thurman, and points to Thurman being on the left side of the poster, as favorite, or the so-called “A-side” fighter in the match-up.
It’s not viewed as a slight within the Garcia camp. The underdog role – the “B-side” – is one that Danny Garcia has come to embrace on the path to multiple world titles and a 33-0 professional record. It’s tough to be a B-side when you’ve put together the résumé that Danny Garcia has in 10 years as a professional. But this fight provided the opportunity, and Angel Garcia insists that he wanted it that way.
That type of hardcore seasoning is what the younger Garcia believes gives him an edge on Thurman heading into their meeting next Saturday night – the headliner of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on CBS, presented by Premier Boxing Champions. Broadcast coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
“My honest assessment is he’s a built-up champion,” Danny Garcia said. “I came up the hard way. I’ve had to take the title off of the champion (at 140 pounds), everything against me. From the gloves, to the size of the ring to the promotion, everything was against me. He’s never had that before.”
Garcia won a vacant 147-pound belt – previously held by Floyd Mayweather Jr. – in January 2016 by edging Robert Guerrero in a gritty, 12-round war. He was out of the ring for 10 months before tuning up for the Thurman bout against Samuel Vargas in November.
While he hasn’t been through waves of adversity in the ring in his brief time at 147 pounds, few can question his accomplishments at 140, where he cleaned out an entire division and was a unified champion in an impressive run of 2-plus years.
Garcia didn’t have many soft touches on the way up to the top at 140 pounds, including the two most significant wins of his career – unification championship bouts with Lucas Matthysse and Amir Khan.
He was an underdog in both and won both in convincing fashion.
“I’m pretty seasoned for my age,” he said. “I feel like I was made for this big stage. That’s what separates me from a lot of these other fighters. A lot of other fighters get to that big stage and they freeze up. Me, you know what I do. I come and deliver.”
Garcia fought five times at 140 pounds as either a unified champion or to unify belts. He’ll now do so for the first time at 147 pounds against Thurman in a bout that has been hyped since moments after his one-sided victory over Vargas last November.
Thurman was ringside that night, working as an analyst on the Spike broadcast. As Garcia’s hand was raised after the fight, Thurman had already been brought into the ring to formally announce their upcoming bout. Garcia knew what to do from there.
“The whole time I was training for that fight, I was training for this fight, so I just had to get over that one fight, and I knew he was going to be there. So I had to let the people know,” he said. “It’s kind of like wrestling. I really meant (what I said), but sometimes you also have to give the fans what they want, and that’s entertainment.”
Garcia lit the flames in just that manner, grabbing the microphone and stoking his hometown crowd in Philadelphia into a blaze with one line: “If y’all wanna see me whip this guy’s ass, make some noise!”
From there, it was a blur of red-faced screaming between the two sides.
“I was ready to fight right there,” Garcia said. “I would have fought him right there if they put the gloves on.”
Those theatrics play into what has also made Garcia so successful in big-time title fights – the mental edge he builds up, no matter the opponent. This fight is no different. He gives a ready assessment of what he’s up against Saturday night in comparison to past challenges.
“He’s probably like fourth or fifth,” Garcia said, ranking Thurman against former opponents. “You’re talking about Amir Khan, Olympic silver medalist, two-division champion. Lamont Peterson. Those guys have skills. I’m just fighting someone with a lot of momentum who thinks he can knock everyone out, that’s it. Once I break his momentum, then what?”
Should he follow through, it would lead some to believe that Garcia’s long list of detractors would automatically shrink.
One of boxing’s more polarizing stars, he has his theories on why so many love to hate him. Without that legion of naysayers lingering, though, it would be hard to continue billing himself as an underdog – his favorite role of them all.
“I beat their favorite fighters and they’re still mad about it,” Garcia said. “I came up the hard way. They don’t understand why I’m still here. They don’t. I earned my way by beating people. I wasn’t sitting next to anyone on a jet promoting me. I created my brand. I created Danny Garcia off the strength of me beating good fighters and nothing else.”