Garcia Topples Khan

By Kieran Mulvaney

Amir Khan - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

There was some talk, before Amir Khan stepped into the ring with Danny Garcia at the Mandalay Bay on Saturday night, that with a victory he could not only erase last December’s controversial loss to Lamont Peterson, but potentially even set himself up for a December megafight with Floyd Mayweather.

One huge counter left hook from Garcia was all it took to blow that idea to pieces.

Suddenly it is the undefeated but unheralded Garcia who is talking about the big money fights, and Khan who is looking at a career that has suddenly reached a crossroad.

Khan started brightly, landing long right hands behind a swift and stiff jab. The difference in hand speed was apparent, Khan’s immense advantages making Garcia’s punches look ponderous and painfully slow. But Garcia, despite looking slightly overwhelmed in the early going, kept his composure. Although a Khan left hook opened a cut by his right eye, his defense was tight, and as the minutes ticked by, he almost visibly grew in confidence.

In the third, Garcia gave up trying to exchange combinations with his speedier opponent and began targeting his body with thudding shots. But it was a shift back to Khan’s sometimes suspect chin that paid dramatic dividends. 

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Compubox Analysis: Khan vs. Garcia

By Compubox

Eight months after losing his WBA and IBF junior welterweight straps to Lamont Peterson, Amir Khan will seek to lift Danny Garcia's newly-acquired WBC strap Saturday in Las Vegas. Will "King Khan" get to wear another crown or will the undefeated Garcia add Khan's name to his growing list of prominent victims that include Nate Campbell, Kendall Holt and Erik Morales? Their CompuBox histories provide the following points to consider:

Eroding Defense?: In his last three fights against Peterson, Zab Judah and Paul McCloskey, Khan has become an easier target for their power punches. The aforementioned trio landed a combined 42.3% of their power shots, led by Peterson's 46.3% in December. During that span, Khan has been operating "underwater," defined as one whose opponents land at a higher percentage. In Khan's case, his last three opponents have landed nearly six percentage points more overall (33.6%-27.8%) and nearly nine percentage points more in power shots (42.3%-33.7%).

Conversely, in the four fights previous to that (Marcos Maidana, Paul Malignaggi, Dmitriy Salita and Andriy Kotenik), Khan enjoyed substantial percentage leads -- a combined 33.9%-22.3% overall, 27.4%-16.6% jabs and 41.7%-25.8% power. At 25, is Khan already showing signs of slippage, or is this a mere bump in the road?

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Fans Weigh In: Khan the Heavy Favorite, But @DANNYSWIFT Has His Supporters

Amir Khan, Danny Garcia - Photo Credit: Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

In what's likely to be his last fight at 140-pounds, Amir Khan hopes to leave his impression on the junior welterweight division—and the fans predict that he will. Our HBO Boxing Facebook poll had 56% of respondents forecast a KO for Khan and 26% who thought he'd win by decision. Only 150 out of 905 people thought Danny Garcia would emerge victorious. On HBO.com Michael Ray A. wrote, "Khan by UD. Too tall, too fast. Don't see Danny giving Amir any trouble throughout the fight." There is one place where Garcia gained traction—@DANNYSWIFT has a formidable Twitter following. And while his 12,500 followers are dwarfed by @AmirKingKhan's 1.1 million, they're an active bunch. Many of them echoed the sentiment of @aboxingfan who tweeted: "Garcia wins by tko on a counter left hook."

Here's some more of what you had to say:

  • Expecting the first two rounds to make it the fight of the year. Khan comes out to send a message and Garcia returns to make claim that he is the alpha dog. But then after that Khan's hand speed will out dazzle Garcia. Khan with a stoppage before the 10th. - V. Varrichio (HBO.com)
  • Khan is getting Danny out of there inside the distance. Speed of Morales and Campbell combined won't match @AmirKingKhan - @MrTactic (Twitter)
  • Garcia 11th round KO Philly left hook  - @spannymont (Twitter)
  • @HBOboxing khan wins too fast to powerful more experience in these big fights! hbo is the best for boxing! respect from England - @juangonzalvez (Twitter)
  • I think this is a chance to see how good Garcia really is. Khan can't afford to drop the ball here. I think Khan wins this by decision. – Seven Thirty (HBO.com)
  • @AmirKingKhan comes out fast, picks him apart with hand speed, 6th round TKO - @Neezy___ (Twitter)
  • Garcia is a good young fighter but Khan is that much better. Khan by decision. - @cjujitsu (Twitter)
  • Garcia looked pretty good against a seasoned Morales, but is obviously going to have a very strategic plan in place, Garcia's overall boxing skillset isn't quite up there with Khan's, but Garcia can pose problems in terms of using the correct strategy. – Riky Ricardo (HBO.com)

 

Peterson Behind Him, Khan Looks Ahead to Garcia

By Kieran Mulvaney

Freddie Roach, Amir Khan - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Two months later than planned, and against a different opponent than originally anticipated, Amir Khan will climb into the ring at the Mandalay Bay on Saturday night for his first fight since losing two junior welterweight belts to Lamont Peterson in Washington, DC last December.

Despite that loss, the WBA -- one of the sanctioning bodies whose titles he surrendered in a controversial split decision loss to Peterson -- has agreed to wrap one of its belts around him again even before he steps between the ropes on Saturday. The reason offered by the WBA for its move is that “no boxer [who] has tested positively for prohibited substances can … retain a title” – a reference to the fact that on May 8, eleven days before he was scheduled to fight a rematch with Khan, Peterson was revealed to have tested positive for synthetic testosterone.

The likelihood of Nevada granting Peterson a boxing license in light of that kind of news was about as high as Mike Tyson returning to the ring and fighting at welterweight; and so the fight was canceled. But Khan was not without an opponent for long, as into the breach stepped young Danny Garcia, himself the holder of a 140-pound trinket (this one bestowed by the WBC) that he secured by way of a hard-fought victory over veteran Erik Morales in Houston in March.

For Khan, the changes meant a switch of focus away from the white whale who had disturbed his sleep ever since that eventful night in the nation’s capital. It also meant an additional two months of work and preparation.

The change of course had undoubtedly interrupted a long-planned shot at revenge that he and trainer Freddie Roach had been plotting in detail, he conceded.

“I had to go back to the drawing board and think about what I was going to do, and how we were going to come back and knock out Lamont Peterson,” he said recently. “And that’s what we were aiming for. We made the fight, and then after I trained out of my skin – I’ve never trained so hard in my life – ten days before the fight I get the call that he had failed the test.”

But despite that, he sees similarities between Peterson’s style and Garcia’s, similarities that made it that much easier to pick up where he had left off when his preparations for a Peterson rematch had been so rudely interrupted.

“You have to remember that Lamont Peterson threw a lot of body shots in our fight,” he pointed out. “Danny Garcia throws a lot of body shots. Garcia’s an orthodox fighter; Lamont Peterson is orthodox. Peterson likes coming forward, Garcia likes to come forward. So technically, tactically, all we have to do is tinker with a few little things. We know what to do. That’s not really a problem.”

Whatever does happen, this may be the final time we see the Briton at this particular fighting weight. He has been around so long already – he won silver at the Olympic Games eight years ago – that it is a shock to realize he is still only 25, a young and growing man. As a result, larger challenges lie ahead.

“It’s getting harder to make the weight. I’m filling out. I’m getting bigger, and older and more mature, so it’s probably the best time to move up, and hopefully win another world title at welterweight,” he revealed. “That’s my ambition.”

Danny Garcia to Test Amir Khan

Amir Khan, Danny Garcia - Photo Credit: Will Hart

There’s no denying that Amir Khan is a superior pure boxer to Danny Garcia. He moves extremely well, and he has faster hands than his Philadelphia adversary. Add to this the fact that the slow-footed Garcia will be standing right in front of Khan all night, and it would appear he is tailor-made for the Brit.

Sometimes looks can be deceiving, however, says Bob Papa, the HBO commentator for ‘Boxing After Dark.’ “Khan may have more skills and ability, and Danny Garcia may be ready-made for Khan, but don’t ever discount Garcia’s heart,” Papa says. “Heart and drive can make up for less skills and boxing ability. Gatti was the poster child for that.”

The undefeated Garcia (23-0, 14 KOs) has demonstrated over his career that his will to win, like Gatti’s, has enabled him to beat opponents considered better than him. The 24-year-old Garcia was the underdog in his last two fights, most recently against Erik Morales and before that Kendall Holt, yet he came out victorious.

“Garcia wasn’t given a great chance against Morales,” Papa says, “because Morales had looked good in his previous fight on his comeback trail. But Garcia’s heart helped him to win. Holt was thought to still have enough left to keep winning, but Garcia wouldn’t be denied. Garcia beats guys he’s not supposed to beat because he just keeps coming.”

Garcia’s Energy Overtakes Morales

Kieran Mulvaney

Danny Garcia, Erik Morales - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Once, Erik Morales possessed a combination of skill, power and fighting spirit that enabled him to break down and defeat one opponent after another. Now, at age 35 and after 60 professional fights, that combination is no longer enough for him to defeat the one opponent who ultimately prevails over all fighters.

Morales deployed experience and guile against Danny Garcia in Houston on Saturday night, and in doing so was able to keep the fight close against a younger, faster opponent. But he was fighting Father Time as well as Garcia, and the tandem proved too much, as Morales fell to 52-8 and the undefeated Garcia lifted the WBC super lightweight title.

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Fans Weigh In: Fans Picks Morales, But @DannySwift Has Other Ideas

Erik Morales, Danny Garcia - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Generally speaking, boxing fans and Vegas have a similar idea of who's going to win a fight. Most of the times we ask for fight predictions they match up pretty closely with the official odds—but not this week. Erik Morales, despite officially being a slight underdog to Danny Garcia, is the overwhelming favorite in your hearts, securing 85% of the 1246 votes cast on our Facebook page. The 24-year-old Garcia took only 187 total votes. This might have to do with the legions of Mexican fans that Morales has thrilled throughout his Hall-of-Fame career, or maybe it's because of Morales's performance in his hard-fought battle against Marcos Maidana. One person who doesn't see things that way is Twitter user @DannySwift aka Danny Garcia. Garcia, who is extremely active on the social network, called out Morales for his inability—or unwillingness, as the case may be—to make weight, writing: "Papa morales came in 2lbs over weight, disrespect to the sport, that puts a extra 50k in my pocket!"

In the undercard bout, fans have flocked to the resurgent James Kirkland, picking him over Carlos Molina by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.

Here's more of what you had to say:

  • I think Morales knocks out Garcia and Kirkland goes the distance with Molina and wins the decision - @eve505 (Twitter)
  • If I were Danny Garcia, I have to be at my best not only physically, but also mentally. It will be a fatal mistake to look past Erik. Its easy to think that Morales will employ his boxing knowledge against a younger foe. But once the crowd gets involved into the fight, El Terrible will have no other choice but to oblige. All hell will break loose, and it will be the most thrilling part of the match. I actually like Erik's chances in catching Danny with his right maybe to the temple or to the jaw. – E.Corales (HBO.com)
  • Morales by UD; Kirkland by KO round 10 - @potlurisuneel (Twitter)
  • Don't believe the hype about Morales being back. So he held up against a one dimensional Marcos, doesn't mean he's back. Have Garcia winning. On the undercard can't say i've ever watched Molina fight, but have seen enough Kirkland fights to know his potential. Kirkland by KO – V. Varricchio (HBO.com)
  • Predictions for Saturday's @HBOboxing fights: @DannySwift Garcia TKO8 Erik Morales. Garcia too young and too hungry. #MoralesGarcia - @myuros (Twitter)
  • Kirkland has one of the weakest chins in the division - @locmyster (Twitter)
  • I think Garcia may squeek out a very close SD. I give Kirkland the edge, but definately wont sleep on Molina –  Riky Ricardo (HBO.com)
  • Garcia doesn't have many technical flaws for Morales to exploit. Add youth & stamina, too much for Morales to overcome. Garcia UD - @alexp4p (Twitter)

Garcia Hopes to Leave No Room for Doubt

By Eric Raskin

Danny Garcia - Photo Credit: Will HartThey say everything’s bigger in Texas. And that includes the size of the controversy when puzzling scorecards are handed in.

The Lone Star State has developed an unsavory reputation of late when it comes to the scoring of fights. The two most prominent recent examples are Tavoris Cloud’s unfathomable decision over Gabriel Campillo in Corpus Christi last month and Juan Diaz’s outrageously scored nod over Paulie Malignaggi in Houston in 2009. At this point, nothing any ring announcer can say at the end of a fight in Texas should surprise any fight fan.

Danny Garcia is no stranger to head-scratching scorecards, as he heard one announced at the conclusion of his most recent fight, a (seemingly) one-sided win over Kendall Holt in Los Angeles. Fortunately, Garcia got the victory, but it was a split decision in a fight that wasn’t even close.

“I was like, man, how can two judges give me nine rounds out of 12, and this judge gives him seven?” Garcia recalled. “I guess that judge was just watching [Holt] and not me. Maybe he had a better outfit on than me or something!

“That fight served as a reminder to me that you have to try to knock guys out. It happened a lot to me in the amateurs, I thought I won, but I left it in the judges’ hands and I lost. So my mindset when I turned pro was to knock guys out. But as I moved up in competition, guys started blocking shots, guys started taking better shots, so my main focus was just to box. Now I need to get back to scoring knockouts. I have to tell myself, ‘I’m not letting nobody take this from me.’”

On Saturday night in Houston, scoring a knockout won’t be easy, since Garcia’s foe, Erik Morales, has only been KO’d by one opponent in 59 pro fights, and that opponent was Manny Pacquiao. Also, as a beloved Mexican veteran, “El Terrible” is almost certain to be the crowd favorite. And we know how crowd reactions can influence even judges who have the best of intentions.

Garcia has a massive challenge in front of him in the form of a resurgent future Hall of Famer. And he may have an even bigger challenge than that awaiting him if the fight goes the full 12.

Who will become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao?

By Eric Raskin

Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather

It is wonderfully symbolic that the last two fighters to whom Oscar De La Hoya lost, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, now occupy the position held for so long by "The Golden Boy." For years, De La Hoya was the crossover superstar who served as the face of boxing to the mainstream public. Mayweather and Pacquiao, together, have done the same in the three-plus years since Oscar's retirement from the ring.

The torch is not always passed so directly, but it is always passed eventually. Mayweather and Pacquiao will not rule boxing forever. Given Mayweather's periodic retirement announcements and Pacquiao's frequent talk of being just a handful of bouts from the end, their two-headed reign could actually end relatively soon. And who will be the face of the sport then? At the moment, eight young stars are showing the kind of potential needed to lead the next generation. Who do you think is likely to step up?

Read More at HBO.com

Veteran Morales Aims to Teach Young Garcia a Lesson

By Kieran Mulvaney

When Danny Garcia fought his first professional fight, Erik Morales had already retired. He'd had a hugely successful career that included winning world titles in three weight divisions, as well as the adoration of Mexican fight fans and the admiration of followers of the sweet science everywhere.

But Morales, who hung up his gloves in 2007 after five defeats in his last six bouts, couldn’t stay out of action for long. He returned to the ring in 2010, and on Saturday night, he faces Garcia in a junior welterweight title fight. He will be looking to draw on the experience of 59 pro fights to beat back the young man’s challenge.

Among the pick of the crop his lengthy career:

KO11 Daniel Zaragoza, September 6 1997

In his first world title fight, Morales showed the strengths and weaknesses that marked his early career and made him such a popular fighter. The 21-year-old took more punches than he needed to against the game veteran, and his footwork could have done with some refinement, but over the second half the fight, uppercuts and punishing body shots dropped Zaragoza and sent him into retirement.

 

W12 Marco Antonio Barrera, February 19 2000

Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera - Photo Credit: Will HartThe first fight of Morales’ epic trilogy against Barrera was probably the best, and highlighted both Mexicans’ willingness to stand and trade blows. In an epic see-saw slugfest, Morales survived a knockdown (which he argued was a slip) to eke out a close win.

 

 

 

 

W12 Manny Pacquiao, March 19 2005

Erik Morales vs. Manny Pacquiao - Photo Credit: Will HartAs Morales aged, he focused less on face-first brawling and more on technique. He used that technique to overcome a still relatively-raw Pacquiao, frustrating the Filipino by jabbing and moving away from the southpaw’s big left hand. It was Pacquiao’s last defeat, and the last win of Morales’ pre-retirement career.

 

 

 

L12 Marcos Maidana, April 9 2011

Erik Morales vs. Marcos Maidana - Photo Credit: Will HartThe transition from young fighter to veteran boxer was in full effect against the hard-hitting Argentinian. Maidana’s fists caused the Mexican’s right eye to grotesquely swell early on, but Morales showed guile, subtle defense and superior technique to outbox the younger man for much of the fight.

 

 



Garcia’s hands are much less heavy than Maidana’s, but he is more skilled than the Argentinian. The question is, can he be as skilled as Morales? Will youth be victorious or will experience prevail?