Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter set for welterweight title fight

NEW YORK (AP) — The similarities are striking.

Both are welterweights who are trained by their fathers. Both are former champions. Both are focused on reaching the mountaintop once again after losses to Keith Thurman. The similitude between the two even extends to the venue.

Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter have travelled parallel paths, which makes it fitting that they will meet for the World Boxing Council’s vacant welterweight title Saturday night at Barclays Center.

“It’s going down,” Porter said.

How close are they? Garcia — the top-ranked WBC welterweight, followed by Porter. Jessie Vargas, Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, and Egidijus Kavaliauskas round out the top five — has opened as a slight favorite according to bookmakers.

“I know people have won money on me before,” Porter said during Thursday’s final pre-fight press conference. “And it wasn’t because I was the guy expected to win. So there’s going to be a lot of people out there winning a lot of money, and I’m looking forward to doing what it takes for them to get paid.”

Garcia is 34-1-0, and is coming off a TKO win over Brandon Rios in Las Vegas on Feb. 17. His only loss was the split decision to Thurman. Porter is 28-2-1, and has won four of his last five fights. His only loss in that time was via unanimous decision on June 25, 2016, to Thurman for the World Boxing Association’s World Welterweight Title.

“Keith got the luck of the draw with both of us,” Porter said. “My fight was more competitive, and my fight should have been, if anything a split decision for me.”

The title had been vacated by Thurman in April due to injury. Thurman had not fought since beating Garcia to unify the WBC and WBA 147-pound titles on March. 4, 2017. After the fight, Thurman had bone spurs and calcium deposits in his right elbow surgically removed. A proposed fight in May had to be postponed after Thurman suffered bruised left hand during training, although an opponent had not been announced. Thurman is still the WBA welterweight champion.

“It means the world to me,” Garcia said about the prospect of winning the WBC welterweight title for the second time. “This is a new chapter in my career. This is a new chapter in my career. Been in a lot of great fights. Been in a lot of tough fights. I’m a seasoned boxer. I’m a seasoned champion. Just regaining something that was mine. It’s like a bully, you know? Steals your lunch money. You can’t wait to get him back. And when you finally beat (him up), it’s like, ‘Yeah, I knew I (am) the man. You tried to pick on me because I (am) quiet.’

“It’s one of (those) moments where I have to prove (to) myself that I’m still the best fighter in the world.”

Regardless of who wins the fight, it will come in a place where both are comfortable. Saturday’s bout will be Garcia’s seventh fight at Barclays, and Porter’s fourth straight, and fifth overall.

“They understand that I sell here,” Porter said about fighting in Barclays. “I’ll get the crowd going, and vice versa. I love it. I love the crowd. I love the energy they bring to the fight.”

Along with the Garcia-Porter fight, the card has Yordenis Ugas facing off against Cesar Barrioneuvo in a welterweight fight, a heavyweight showdown with Adam Kownacki and Charles Martin, and Amanda Serrano challenging Yamila Esther Reynoso for the WBO junior welterweight title. Should Serrano win, she would become the first female fighter to win titles in six weight divisions, and only the third fighter ever to record the feat.

The others? Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya.

“I’m going to put on a hell of a show like I always do,” Serrano said. “I’m super excited. Six divisions. That’s up there with two of the greatest men. I’m more than honored to be part of that crew.”

The Garcia-Porter card is the 30th to be contested at Barclays, which opened in September 2012. During Thursday’s final press conference to promote the fight, Premier Boxing Champions and Barclays Center announced a partnership where the arena will be the PBC’s official home on the East Coast. The first card of the new partnership is scheduled for December.