Garcia gets shot at big time vs. Morales

Mexican boxing legend Erik Morales made his professional debut on March 29, 1993. Nine days before that, Danny Garcia turned 3 years old. Saturday, the two go head to head in the ring, as the undefeated Garcia, now 24, tires to claim the 35-year-old Morales’ WBC light welterweight title (HBO, 10:15 p.m. ET).

"I grew up watching him and never thought I’d be in ring with him," Garcia said. "He did a lot for boxing, and I’m blessed to be in the ring with him."

Do not mistake that respect for surrender though, as Garcia knows what a big opportunity this is. A crowd-pleasing hard puncher with 14 knockouts in his 22 wins, Garcia’s past two opponents, Nate Campbell and Kendall Holt, represented a step up in competition for him, and he handled both challenges. It’ll be it’s another step up Saturday when he faces Morales (52-7, 36 KOs).

"I’m ready for the big fight. I trained really hard,” Garcia said. “We had a 10-week camp and usually, we do eight, so I did extra to prepare. We sparred more rounds, ran more miles, trained harder, and stepped everything up a notch. I’m ready and I’m very prepared."

The light welterweight and welterweight divisions are considered among the most loaded in boxing. With big names like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, Tim Bradley, Victor Ortiz, Devon Alexander, among others, fighting at these weights, a win against Morales could propel Garcia toward bigger opportunities.

"I’m focused and I’m ready to be a world champion,” Garcia said. “Mostly, I’m ready to get the credit I’m supposed to get. After I beat him, the sky’s the limit."

Garcia’s speed, youth and power will be a lot for Morales to deal with, but in his past few fights since returning from retirement, the ring legend has shown that he still is a dangerous opponent, and the challenger is well aware of that.

"He’s definitely a cagey veteran and a good counterpuncher that has been in big fights before,” Garcia said. “He has good experience, but that’s all he has against me/ I’m in great shape and I definitely have the skills."

Boxing fans can turn tune into HBO for a chance to see the torch get passed. Morales is confident that will not happen, however. Garcia would not make any predictions, except to say everyone who watches and those who attend in person will get everything they bargained for, and so will Erik Morales.

"I’m going to bring a lot of excitement,” Garcia said. “I’m a crowd-pleasing fighter who brings a lot of speed, power. I love taking risks and I love making fans get (on) their feet."